You can get far more bang for your buck with the Languedoc wines than many others of similar quality, as this region produces a big portion of France’s table wines, or “vins de tables,” and most of France’s country wines, or “vin de pays.” It is an ideal destination for touring the French wine country, visiting vineyards for tastings, or simply enjoying a glass at a café.
With a rental car or a tour group, it is rather simple to conduct a tour of Languedoc’s wine country. The best method is to select one or two of the many regional wine territories and drive around that area. You can’t miss the vineyards. Grape vines dot the landscape throughout this region.
As an interesting note, Limoux claims to have been the true spot where sparkling wine was invented, and locals say the famous Dom Perignon passed through the village on his way to Champagne and merely stole the idea. To this day, visitors can sample Limoux’s wonderful sparkling wine, called Blanquette.
The French government regulates the designation of exceptional wines as “appellation d'origine controlée,” or registered designation of origin, with requirements as to the growing methods, the yields and several other standards. Officials perform taste tests to be sure these wines are of high quality.
The Languedoc has ten “AOC” territories, and the “Vin AOC de Languedoc” office describes them as follows:
Corbieres wine territoryThis is produced in Carcassonne, Narbonne, Perpignan and Quillan, featuring young wines which have black currant or blackberry flavors. Ninety-four percent of these wines are red. The more mature wines have notes of spice, pepper, liquorices and thyme.
The reds are powerful, with aromas of old leather, coffee, cocoa and game. The grape varieties Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault are used for the red and rosé wines. Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc, Maccabeu, Marsanne and Roussanne are used for the white wines.
Coteaux de Languedoc wineThis is home to the oldest vines in France, extending along the Mediterranean coast from Narbonne in the west to Camargue in the east and as far as the foothills of the Montagne Noire and the Cévennes.
The red wines are velvety and elegant, with notes of raspberry, black currant, spice and pepper. Once aged, the wines develop notes of leather, laurel and scents of the garrigue (cade, juniper, thyme and rosemary). Grape varieties include Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Minervois winesThese wines are produced in an area bounded by the Canal du Midi in the south and the Montagne Noire to the north, stretching from Narbonne to Carcassonne.
The young wines are well-structured and elegant, with aromas of black currant, violet, cinnamon and vanilla. Once aged, they display characteristics of leather, candied fruit and prunes. They have silky tannins and are full and long on the palate.
The red wines are produced from Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault. The whites are produced from Marsanne, Roussanne, Maccabeu, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache, Vermentino and small-berried Muscat.
Saint Chinian wineProduced north of Béziers at the foot of the Caroux and Espinouse mountains, these wines use Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault and Lladoner Pelut grapes.
The young Saint Chinian wines have a good structure and notes of balsam, black currant and spice. The more mature wines develop complex aromas of cocoa, toast and fruits.
Faugeres wineTo the north of Béziers and Pézenas, this territory produces young wines that are well-structured but supple, with mineral notes and aromas of small red fruits, liquorices and spices. These wines are low in acidity and have elegant and refined tannins.
After maturation for 12 months, the silky tannins are further enhanced by notes of leather and liquorices. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault are the grape varieties.