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Languedoc Wine - Visiting Vineyards

Updated on June 18, 2011

Languedoc wine terroir

Varied stone soils in the Jonquieres, one Languedoc wine-producing region
Varied stone soils in the Jonquieres, one Languedoc wine-producing region
Clay and calcium deposits near the Cite de Carcassonne, another wine producing area in the Languedoc
Clay and calcium deposits near the Cite de Carcassonne, another wine producing area in the Languedoc

About Languedoc wines

The Languedoc Roussillon is one of the largest wine producing regions of the world.  As of 2000, this one part of France produces more wine than the entire United States combined.  One third of France's wine comes from the Languedoc Roussillon, dwarfing the production of more famous regions like Bordeaux and Bourgogne. 

Languedoc wine is probably best known for Mediterranean varietals like Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Cinsault.  These are grape varietals that easily exhibit pepper, spice and everything nice.  You can get deep, ripe fruit flavors and a lot of mineral qualities too.  But it's sort of hard to generalize because the Languedoc is so large and so varied.  Some parts of the Languedoc like the Malpere and Cabardes actually produce typically Atlantic varietals in their AOC blends (i.e. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc). 

Terroir is also hard to generalize because of the extreme geological diversity in the Languedoc.  It's really a large region with a lot of different soil conditions that change very quickly over small spaces.  Several parts of the Languedoc exhibit almost schizophrenic soil composition that juxtaposes Mediterranean sea fossils and mountaintop calcium deposits.  Many people don't realize, but the Mediterranean Sea used to cover a large part of the Languedoc and Provence.  Inland cities like Montpellier and Arles used to be coastal when they were first founded.  It's a good illustration of just how fast things can change in the Languedoc.

Visiting Vineyards in the Languedoc

Visiting vineyards in the Languedoc is an extremely worthwhile pursuit for any wine-loving traveler.  But it's not as easy as you might think.  The Languedoc wine producers are still developing their touristic potential and are a few years behind more commercialized areas like Napa Valley and Bordeaux. 

If you don't speak French, your best bet is to find a seasoned wine guide or to follow an online review like Love that Languedoc.  If you do speak French, you can try to just call different wineries to see if they accept guests and learn important information like pricing, open hours, etc.

It might be a little inconvenient, but the very lack of commercialized tourism is what makes visiting Languedoc wineries so charming.  You can easily avoid the huge "disney-fied" tours that are just theme park rides with a gift shop at the end.  You can meet real winemakers who get their hands dirty and love making wine more than anything else in life.


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      shay o'neill 

      8 years ago

      thanks for the great information.

      we are going on our first wine tour to france in june staying in canaules ( the languedoc


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