Why Your Favorite Wine Bar Loves Languedoc — And You Should, Too
It's rooted in the Roman Empire but as popular as ever. Here's why.
In partnership with Vins Du Languedoc
Nestled along the French coast between the warm sun of the Mediterranean Sea to the east and the cooling Atlantic winds to the west, the Languedoc region of France stands as a monument to winemaking with a tradition dating back to the Roman era. Despite its ancient roots, however, Languedoc remains on the forefront of innovation – nine of the region’s 20 AOPs (“Appellation d’Origine Protégée,” or “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO) in English) are less than 20 years old – and is as popular as ever. In fact, you’ve probably started to notice Languedoc wines popping up on your favorite wine bar menus. If you haven’t yet, after seeing this, you definitely will. Here are four reasons why that trendy wine bar in your neighborhood loves Languedoc, and you should, too.
It’s rooted in rich tradition
As noted, wines have been produced in Languedoc for 2,500 years, but let’s skip forward a bit to 1993, when the region launched the world’s first all organic wine expo, the Millesime Bio, which is still going strong today. Nearly 25 years before that, in 1970, Alain Bouquet began his visionary research on disease-resistant grapes at L’ INRA in Montpellier, which sits squarely between multiple Languedoc AOPs. And, oh by the way, Languedoc winemakers were the first to ever produce sparkling wine, having harnessed the power of bubbles way back in 1544. So yeah, all of which is to say, they know what they’re doing because they’ve had a ton of practice – and that shines through in the final product.
It’s incredibly varied
The unique geography of Languedoc results in a truly amazing diversity of terroir and 26 different grape varieties covering 90,000 acres of vines. Three distinct climate zones define terroir:
In the Mediterranean coastal plains, warm summers and mild, wet winters, along with sedimentary soils and mineral-rich clay result in fully ripened grapes and healthy vine-to-water balance. Rich red blends and unique whites abound.
In the Atlantic zone to the west, a cool, moist climate shaped by converging dry and warm winds, plus rocky sandstone and limestone soil creates a distinct terroir resulting in distinguished reds and sparkling Limoux wines.
Lastly, the hills and mountains to the north are defined by warm days and cool nights, red sandstone and Jurassic limestone. These volcanic subsoils, along with higher elevations, inject depth and minerality to wines from this zone.
Land is also still fairly inexpensive in Languedoc, which means the more than 20,000 winemakers in the region are able to constantly experiment with different varietals and imbue each one with their particular flavor of southern French character. What you get from all of that is an astonishingly vast array of wines. There’s literally something for every taste, occasion or pairing.
It’s better for the environment
Languedoc experiences roughly 320 days of sunshine each year, which helps winemakers there to cultivate the most organic vines in all of France. More than 30 percent of France’s organic vineyards and 10 percent of the organic acreage worldwide can be found in Languedoc. And 27 percent of the acreage there is actively being converted to organic.
Plus, Languedoc appellations emphasize sustainability measures like non-invasive vine treatments, organic insect repellants, rainwater collection, protecting hedges and animal habitats and focusing on biodiversity. So you can feel as good about where your wine comes from as your wine makes you feel from drinking it.
It’s just plain delicious
If you’re intrigued by any of this, the best way to learn more is to taste it for yourself. We heard from a few places that are loving Languedoc in our backyard of NYC, which we’ve listed below. But you can savor these delicious wines anywhere. Just hit up your favorite local spot and ask if they have the stuff everybody is into lately.
Corkbuzz Union Square
13 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003
Harlem Wine Gallery
2067 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, New York, NY 10027
88 E 111th St, New York, NY 10029
Riverview Wine and Spirits
43 Bowers St, Jersey City, NJ 07307
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