[Article] Languedoc’s variety is a force to be reckoned with
Its many faces have helped it create and stay ahead of demand for rosé and organic
The Languedoc is fast becoming one of the most dynamic wine regions of France, it is not only about volumes but also sophistication.
Part of this change is being driven by its rapid adoption of more environmentally friendly wine making techniques, with more and more producers swapping chemicals for organic. Responsible winemaking has taken on variety of different faces. For example, using cows and sheep to control weeds which could compete with the vines for precious resources. These animals also grace the region’s hard soils with their droppings, a natural source of fertiliser and magnet for earthworms, a welcome guest. Le Château de Ciffre, a magnificent 70 hectare-Estate, with 33 dedicated to wine making, is just one of the many vineyards across the region to make the move to organic over the past five years, for which it received certification in 2019. Today, the region is leading France in the production of organic wines – with 36% of its total production.
Wine makers are also increasingly planting trees and hedges around their vines to protect them from strong winds like la tramontane which would otherwise dry out the soil. The natural barriers also serve as homes for animals like birds and bats. These predators feast on insects like the butterfly responsible for grape worm. A wide variety of terroirs and climates have also boosted the region’s kudos and allowed producers to diversify by adding whites and bubbles to the already long list of renowned reds. Le vignoble de Limoux, whose appellation boasts these three types of wine, is a perfect example of how the region’s wine makers are now establishing themselves across the market. It’s no wonder the Languedoc’s long standing wine families are being joined by new faces, attracted by the region’s beauty and favourable terroirs. This influx is boosting the region’s wine making ranks and forging a mediterranean identity with its own distinct influences, tendencies and nuances. So Languedoc-Roussillon, with its 700,000 acres (2,800 km2), may be the biggest wine producing region in the world, but today it speaks more than volumes. Some of its best wines are produced under the 36 AOCs or AOPs designated appellation of Languedoc, which account for 11% of the total wine production. The main wine regions, which stretch across three departments, the Aude, Gard and Hérault, before extending down to the Pyrénées-Orientales where it meets Roussillon, are famed for their red blends made with Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault. Its multi-faceted identity has also made it easier for the region to innovate and adapt to the changing demands of the wine industry. This has been clearly exemplified by its increased production of rosé and organic wines over the past few years.