Unique wines with Mediterranean colours and aromas
Taking part in a race towards global excellence, the winemakers in Languedoc-Roussillon grow sparkling wines, sweet wines, red wines, white wines, and a range of rosé wines… Unique wines with Mediterranean colours and aromas which are becoming increasingly sought after. Both in France and overseas.
“The Greeks were the first to plant vineyards in our region,” says a producer at the Collioure market. The history of wine growing on these shores of the Mediterranean dates back to the fifth century BC. Later, the Romans were also very successful in further developments of wine-growing. At that time, the wines produced between Nîmes and Narbonne were in competition with Italian wines. So much so, that Emperor Dominitien brought Languedoc wine prosperity to a halt in the year 92 by banning new vines from being planted within the empire, and by ordering that half of the vines within the provinces be uprooted. The vines as a source of power and wealth would then be rescued by the monks.
Languedoc wine growing had to face a series of crises from 1850. Powdery mildew had a devastating effect. Just like phylloxera in 1863, and the downy mildew in the late nineteenth century. Once a solution had been found, cultivation began to increase rapidly. The Languedoc vineyard was being flaunted as one of the largest in France at the beginning of the twentieth century. Because it consisted of high-yield varieties, the area was producing a large quantity of table wines, albeit of a poor quality.
The profession had to undergo a restructure in order to get rid of this image which had tarnished Languedoc-Roussillon for some time. Vine plants were dug up…. on mass. The winemakers showed innovation by restoring traditional and noble varieties such as syrah, grenache or mourvèdre. The change for the “Vin de pays” [local wine] designation was the first step towards quality improvement. And then, another step was taken with the accession to the AOC designation (AOC for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – controlled designation of origin), that was granted by the French INAO authorities in 1987. It is very difficult to be awarded the AOC designation. This recognition represented a major milestone in acknowledging Languedoc-Roussillon wines. It also gave them a huge boost.