Languedoc Is France’s Most Underrated Wine Region
Why the sun-drenched vineyards of southern France should be on your list
I really didn’t know much about France’s Languedoc wine region before I traveled there last October. Now, I can’t open a restaurant’s wine menu without immediately searching for Languedoc wines — maybe because drinking them takes me back to warm, sunny days sipping them in verdant vineyards and sidewalk restaurants, maybe because I just get really excited to see wines from this underrated region increasingly getting their due.
The Languedoc stretches from Provence to the Pyrenees, and vineyards benefit from Mediterranean sea breezes and soils rich with clay, limestone, schist and granite. Native grape varieties like grenache, syrah, mourvèdre, carignan, cinsault, picpoul, vermentino and viognier are used in abundance. Languedoc has been historically known for producing great value wines, but especially in recent years, that definitely doesn’t mean low-quality — in fact, I have yet to come across a Languedoc wine that I don’t like.
Whether you’re looking to check an amazing wine destination off your list or are simply craving a holiday in the South of France, here’s everywhere to stay, eat and, of course, drink in Languedoc.
Where to Wine
There are so many excellent Languedoc wineries, so this is only a small list of the vineyards you can visit during a trip. Here they are broken down by town, but during my visit, we never drove more than an hour between estates, and often they are 10 to 20 minutes apart.
This winery is located in Pézenas (where we recommend staying during your Languedoc adventure, more on that later), so it’s a must-visit. The Sutra de Germa-Gil family has been making wine for four generations, and you can try their delicious bottlings during a weekday afternoon visit to the tasting room.
This winery is situated between the Bassin de Thau (a string of lagoons that stretch along the French coast) and the clay-limestone hills where they grow 30 hectares of grapes. They offer free tours and tastings and often host events like concerts. Try the Le Chant des Dolia, a silky, minerally GSM (grenache, syrah and mourvèdre blend) with notes of red fruits and black pepper.
Fans of dry, high-acid whites will love picpoul, and Domaine de Campaucels makes one of our favorite bottles. You can even opt to book a stay at the winery’s 13th century home, which features an outdoor kitchen so you can cook a meal among the century-old pines. Be on the lookout for live music and other events.
This estate has been producing wine since the 11th century, and their 42 hectares of organic vineyards are some of the most picturesque we’ve seen. Mas Du Novi’s cellar is open seven days a week with no appointment necessary, so stop by to taste their excellent wines and explore the grounds (which includes a very old and quaint chapel).
A Renaissance château, olive groves and lush grounds accompany more than 50 vineyard plots that grow 18 grape varieties at Château Saint-Martin de la Garrigue. Not only can you visit for a tasting and a bite, you can also book the property for special events.
Part of the Gérard Bertrand wine portfolio, Clos du Temple is focused on one thing: making one of the best rosés in the world. The blend of grenache, cinsault, syrah and mourvèdre is aged in new French oak, and the best way to try it is in-person at the verdant hillside vineyard.
Located about a 10 minute drive from Pézenas, this lovely estate is worth a visit to try Allegria’s mourvèdre and syrah blends like Tribu du Volcan and La Belle Histoire. You can also book a sunset dinner, featuring a home-cooked meal with wine pairings (oui, s’il vous plait!).
Also a short drive from Pézenas, this organic vineyard grows 6.5 hectares of vines on basalt and clay-limestone soils. They are open for tastings by appointment Monday to Friday and for walk-ins on Saturday. Don’t miss the Champs des Bleuets, a bright, balanced blend of vermentino, grenache blanc and grenache gris.
Winemaker Lidewij van Wilgen is originally from Amsterdam, but she studied oenology and viticulture in France and has been the owner and winemaker of Terre des Dames since 2002. It’s a family affair, as her three daughters grew up on the estate and are now involved in the business. Her rosés are especially gorgeous, which you can try during their Tuesday summer tastings in English (and Thursdays in Dutch).
Not only is this historic monument (it was founded in 1139) one of the most beautiful abbeys in France, it’s also one of the oldest vineyards in Languedoc. Abbey tours and wine tastings are offered year-round, and the on-site restaurant Vigneron features meats and cheeses from local producers and produce from their organic vegetable garden.
Where to Eat
A 12-minute drive from Pézenas, this restaurant and guesthouse from Jean-Claude Mas is at the heart of Domaine Mas, which covers 150 hectares of vineyards. The multi-course lunch and wine pairing is the move, and afterwards you can tour the vineyards on horseback or buggy. If you’d rather come for dinner and can’t bear to leave, two lovely guest rooms (with a swimming pool, to boot) are available for rent.
Situated on a charming side street in Pézenas, Assiette d’Anatole serves regional French specialties, many of which are cooked on their wood-fired grill. They also have a great list of AOP Languedoc Pézenas wines to pair with the delicious food.
Chef Jean-Michel Sempé leads the team at Le Pré Saint Jean, where beautifully-plated dishes taste as good as they look. Think an artichoke tartlet with foie gras and truffles, and line-caught hake risotto with fennel and aniseed mussel jus — délicieux!
This lively restaurant in Montpellier features a wine tasting bar — simply ask the bartender to sample the wines you want to try, then purchase by the glass or bottle for your table. Order platters of cheese, charcuterie, grilled veggies, meat and seafood, and sweets to pair with your selection.
Located across the street from Montpellier’s Jardin des Plantes, this popular restaurant is known for its bowls, burgers and cocktails. Even a rainy day doesn’t stop locals from gathering under awnings and umbrellas to enjoy the all-day cafe.
Shellfish lovers have to visit this waterfront oyster farm and restaurant, where you can dine on mussels and oysters, fresh from the Bassin de Thau. Don’t forget a glass of the region’s picpoul de pinet, which pairs perfectly with seafood.
Where to Stay
When embarking on your Languedoc trip, you’ll likely have to fly in and out of Montpellier from Paris or elsewhere in Europe. If you decide to stay a night or two in the city (which you should because it’s great), Courtyard Montpellier offers modern rooms with a beautiful pool and nice restaurant (the breakfast is especially lovely).
Pézenas is an ideal home base for a trip to Languedoc, and this former distillery has been transformed into a charming hotel. Many of the rooms feature kitchens and balconies, which makes it feel like you’re staying in someone’s country home. Breakfast is served in the parlor every morning, and the pool, spa and wine bar are there to help you unwind after a day of tasting.
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