In the sun-dappled terrain of this little-known yet evolving wine region the vineyards seem endless. A plentiful land with untapped potential, there is a wine type for everyone. Unlike winemakers in the more famous wine regions or Bordeaux or Burgundy, the creative vintners of the Languedoc Roussillon region are making their mark by trying different blends of more than 100 grape varieties. They have over 700,000 acres of land with widely contrasting climates on which to use their know-how and cutting-edge techniques.
The region of Languedoc Roussillon is one of the oldest and largest vineyards in the world. The area stretches from the Mediterranean sea to the Pyrenées Mountains. The soil is varied and some of the vineyards are laid upon ancient riverbed stones (similar to those of Châteauneuf-du-Pape) that go back as far as the 6th century BC, when the Greeks were the first to plant vines.
There are 40 AOC designations of red, white rosé and sparkling wines with often complex flavors, not to mention an array of fortified and sweet wines. This is the largest organically-farmed wine region in France.
When you think of “bubbly” you no doubt think of champagne. But it’s in this region that the world’s first “bubbly” was born. According to Sud de France, “In 1531, in a small Benedictine abbey in Saint-Hilaire (now Limoux), monks perfected the process of fermenting wine in glass flasks, making the world’s first sparkling wine more than one century before Dom Pérignon in Champagne.” Yes, the
sparkling wines of Limoux are surprisingly champagne-like…the bubbles come from a second fermentation in the bottle.
Corbières is Languedoc-Roussillon’s largest appellation with land that is rocky and dry. The intense, full-bodied rounded reds have spicy overtones and to well with red meat or game. Try a rosé that is refreshingly fruity and light. The dry whites have just a titch of floral flavor and go perfect with seafood.
Banyuls is a Mediterranean port that has kept its historic character and Catalan culture. The wine from this part of Languedoc Roussilon is a naturally sweet dark red that is perfect as an apéro with tapenade, or at the end of a meal with gateau chocolat for dessert.
Wines from Crostières de Nimes have been around since Roman times. The reds go well with meat and poultry. The rosé wines are deliciously pink served chilled on a summer (or any season!) afternoon and the whites go well with seafood.
So many different wines to talk about in Languedoc Roussillon, but I’ll save that for another blog.
Suffice it to say, here – influenced by the beauty of the coast, the hills and mountains, the plains and sun – creative cooks and chefs have ingredients at their fingertips for fabulous food and wonderful wine. What a combination! This must be the key to the secret of long life among the people of this area.
In the 2009 edition of Wine Enthusiast magazine, Lauren Buzzeo said, “With more than one third of France’s total wine production coming from this region, it is truly amazing that more people don’t know about the fantastic and widely varying wines of the Sud de France.”
Want to learn more? We’re offering an exclusive culinary tour of Languedoc Roussillon in May, 2014. Stay tuned for more details.