Languedoc & Roussillon Wineries
Think of France’s south coast and your mind will likely fill with images of the Côte d’Azur: of bronzed millionaires strutting along the manicured beaches of Monaco, Saint-Tropez, Cannes and Nice; of lines upon lines of poorly parked super cars. But such opulent sights are only part of the story.
Just to the west, the dual region of Languedoc-Roussillon possesses a more rustic, nay ramshackle charm. Here you’ll find a landscape ranging from rugged mountains to vine-covered hills and plains, a vast coast pocketed by beautiful lagoons, and cultural attractions like thriving Montpellier and the old Roman city of Nîmes.
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More About Languedoc-Roussillon
Since 2016 Languedoc-Roussillon has actually been a part of a larger, and newly established, French administrative region, Occitanie. However, in the minds of oenophiles these Arcadian lands will always be known by their old moniker and will forever bring to mind rich and full-bodied reds that offer a taste of the sunshine with which the Languedoc is blessed.
There are around 750,000 acres of vineyards in this region, approximately three times the area under vine in Bordeaux. To add further perspective, the Languedoc-Roussillon traditionally produces more wine than any one of Chile, Australia or South Africa! This should give you more than enough scope for a varied Languedoc wine holiday but with the regional capital Toulouse just a couple of hours from Bordeaux, it is really easy to enjoy a twin-centre wine break too.
With Provence a similar distance east of Montpellier and the wine regions around Barcelona and those of northern Spain also within striking distance, Languedoc may just be the perfect base for the wine holiday of a lifetime!
A tale of two regions – Languedoc and Roussillon
As you can probably guess from its double-barrelled name, Languedoc-Roussillon is actually formed from two distinct regions.
Languedoc, the more French of the two, is home to the vibrant, slightly Barcelona-esque capital of Montpellier, with its stately boulevards, leafy squares, and shady backstreets. Wander along the tree-lined Place Royale du Peyrou to watch the locals engage in their games of pétanque, or soak up the atmosphere and architecture of the Place de la Comédie, truly one of France’s finest squares.
Elsewhere in Languedoc the sun-baked city of Nîmes is home to some of southern France’s best-preserved Roman buildings, including a 2000-year-old temple and a magnificent amphitheatre, where you can still see bullfights and gladiator battles to this day. Just to the north east of the city meanwhile, you’ll find Le Pont du Gard, an impressive Roman aqueduct.
Further west you can visit the fortified city of Carcassone. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, perched on a rocky hilltop like something from a children’s fairy-tale, is one of Languedoc’s biggest tourist attractions.
Balancing Languedoc’s quintessential Frenchness, the region of Roussillon boasts strong Catalan influences thanks to it proximity to the Spanish border.
Here you’re likely to hear the locals speaking Catalan while you explore places like Collioure, which was pretty enough to draw the eyes of Picasso and Matisse, and Pic de Canigou, symbol of Catalan identity and the highest summit in the eastern Pyrenees.
Languedoc-Roussillon Wine Guide
Wine in Languedoc-Roussillon
With over 3700 wine makers across the region, many of them small independent producers, there’s a huge amount of variety to be found.
Languedoc-Roussillon is best known for its reds, with most made using Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre grapes. But that’s not to say there are no whites to enjoy. In fact, in terms of variety if not quantity, the whites leave the red for dust! And let’s not forget some of the region’s more outré wines, like Banyuls’ sweet reds, the creamy sparkling Blanquette de Limoux from Mauzac, and the delicious rosés of Côtes du Roussillon.
Like the region itself, the wines of this area can often come across as a little rustic. There are various appellations within the broader AC Languedoc, with well-known names such as Saint-Chinian, Corbieres and Minervois all quite different but with enough in common for them to be logically grouped together.
Such wines are typically ripe, with a good dose of alcohol and tannin thanks to the amount of sunshine, yet they still manage to be nicely rounded. The Languedoc tends to produce good barbeque wines, pairing well with charred vegetables and meat if you want to really bring a taste of that sunshine home. They are often great with flavourful sausages too – no real surprise given Toulouse was the capital of the former region of Languedoc.
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Languedoc-Roussillon Gourmet Guide
Most wine lovers tend to be equally devoted to the enjoyment of fine food and this southern corner of France delivers on that front too. Around Toulouse expect to see cassoulet on many menus, this hearty stew of beans, sausages and various meats sure to delight carnivores.
It is not all about animals, although the confit de canard (duck) and wild boar are other specialities, and truffles, asparagus, wild mushrooms from the Cévennes mountains forests, cherries, peaches and apricots are all superb when in season.
It should also be no surprise to see a Catalan influence as you head south and west. Expect to see tapas, lots of olives and more specifically dishes such as ollada, a soupy beef or pork stew, and brandade, a salted cod emulsion.
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