Friday, May 29th lovers of Languedoc wines will join together to celebrate this special region in the South of France. We made our third trip to the region last month, and can tell you the wines are better than ever!
Where is the Languedoc?
Pronounced “Lawn-guh-dock” by locals, and “Long-dock” by outsiders, the region curves around the Mediterranean Sea’s Golf of Lion, and encompasses 36 appellations and ‘delimited areas with protected origin status’, including 29 for still wines, 4 for ‘vin doux naturel’ (fortified sweet wines) and 3 for sparkling wines. The Languedoc appellation also includes 22 with protected geographical indication status (IGP), spread over 4 regions: the Aude, Hérault, Gard and Pyrénées-Orientales. Annual production of the area is over 190,000 hectolitres.
The largest and oldest wine-producing region in France, the Languedoc area itself has been around for at least 2,500 years. In the 1960s efforts began to bring together all the winegrowers who worked within the region into one AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée) but it took 47 years to finally bring together all of L’Occitane, Cathare and Catalan as “Languedoc,” via statute of 30 April 2007, now encompassing 531 villages in the Languedoc-Rousillon region.
The Languedoc produces many well‐known grape varieties including Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, as well as varieties like Piquepoul, Bourboulenc, Carignan and Mauzac that are hidden gems for many American wine drinkers. Many of the wines are extremely affordable, with an average retail price of about $15. You can learn much, much more about Languedoc here at Discover Languedoc Wines.
Why do we love Languedoc?
We first visited Languedoc in 2011 we when visited Montpellier, France, and then again in April 2014, when we visited the fortified Medieval City of Carcassonne. Last month we traveled again to Montpellier and the lovely gardens of Château de Flaugergues to meet with winemakers and taste the newest vintages. We enjoyed wonderful oysters, mussels and lamb with wines from the Mas d’Encoste. We hiked vineyards in AOC Terrasses du Larzac, at the base of the famous Larzac plateau, at the foot of Mont Saint-Baudille. We climbed AOC Languedoc – Pic Saint-Loup, the northernmost vineyard in the Languedoc. We spent an evening with Vinifilles, an association of female wine makers in the Languedoc, at Trinque Fougasse, the festive brasserie in the north of Montpellier.
We ate just-caught ousters from Étang de Thau, the largest of a string of lagoons that stretch along the French coast from the Rhône River to the foothills of the Pyrenees and the border to Spain paired with Picpoul de Pinet. We visited with old friends and made new, and discovered some small lot wines produced in Corbières and Saint-Chinian Berlou. We’re introducing some of these wines at a very special private tasting as part of the Languedoc Day celebration!
How Should I Celebrate Languedoc Day?
We encourage everyone to head to his or her local wine shop and purchase something to enjoy on Languedoc Day. Perhaps you enjoy oysters, mussels or shellfish? Ask for a Picpoul de Pinet.
Maybe cassoulet, some charcuterie or a savory lamb dish is more to your liking? Reds from Corbières, Fitou, Saint-Chinian or Minervois would be good choices.
Looking for a good wine to pair with fresh fruit go with a sparkling Blanquette de Limoux. Or maybe your prefer something a bit sweet? Then head for Les Muscats — Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat de Mireval or Muscat de Saint-Jean-de-Minervois.
We have assembled a wine tasting collection with help from our local shops as well as some bottles sent to us by Languedoc AOC representatives. This years we also brought several bottles back with us. If you are in Houston and looking for popular wine from Languedoc, try Specs’ Smith Street location. Unfortunately they are not all in one section, so you may need to look in several areas. The sales person may take you directly to the “Vin de Pays” aisle. But you can also find Languedoc wines in the Rose and Syrah aisles as well. For a really good selection from Limoux and Minervois visit French Country Wines at 2433 Bartlett St, just a block or two from Goode Company Barbeque off Kirby in Rice Village. Or head to one of four Richard’s Liquors and Fine Wines.
Sadly, few Houston restaurants feature Languedoc wines on their lists. It seems they play it safe with Burgundy and Bordeaux. We wish they would expand their horizons, because they could offer you some really good wines that wouldn’t cost you a week in groceries. We continue our mission to add Languedoc wines to area restaurant wine lists — and you can too. Just request something from the Languedoc whenever you ask to see the wine list.
Join the Conversation!
Get yourself out to a wine shop, and pick up a few bottles of wine from Languedoc. Tweet along with us on twitter using #LanguedocDay. Follow Languedoc Wines on Twitter (@LanguedocWines). In addition to Twitter, you are encouraged to find or organize a tasting in your own area. Wine lovers looking to celebrate #LanguedocDay in Boston or Seattle can visit LanguedocAdventure.com for restaurants featuring these wines and in‐store tasting events happening at local retailers on May 29 in conjunction with the L’Aventure Languedoc retail and restaurant promotion. Check out Languedoc Wines on Facebook as well at (Facebook.com/LanguedocWines).
#LanguedocDay is sponsored by Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc (CIVL), the joint trade council of the wines of Languedoc, representing the entire AOP wines sector and the IGP sector. The campaign is supported by the European Union.
Please help us celebrate this special region in France by hosting your own Languedoc Day event, and posting your comments about the wines on Twitter!
Á votre santé!