Languedoc Wines

Languedoc Wines

A little history

Viticulture has thrived in southern France for countless centuries. Around the 6th Century B.C.E, vines were brought to the region by the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Etruscans, who not only imported wine but also began cultivating vineyards. The Romans further expanded the industry, forever linking wine with the local economy. In Lattara (present-day Lattes), a coastal town south of Montpellier, wine production began around 525 BCE, marking a similar timeframe to the production in Massalia (present-day Marseille). Lattara also developed as a prominent port for importing and exporting goods, including Etruscan wine. Evidence of wine production in Lattara includes the discovery of a limestone pressing platform and quantities of grape seeds, dating back to approximately 425-400 BCE, a century after the initial evidence of winemaking in the Massalia region.

During the 14th century, the wines from the St. Chinian area in the Languedoc region of southern France gained fame for their healing properties and were even prescribed in hospitals in Paris. However, with the onset of the Industrial Age in the late 19th century, the focus shifted towards mass-produced wines, particularly the inexpensive red wine called le gros rouge, to cater to the growing workforce. This led to the cultivation of highly productive grape varieties that resulted in high yields but produced thin and low-quality wines.

Unfortunately, like many other wine regions, the Languedoc and Roussillon areas were also affected by the phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800s. The 20th century witnessed the dominance of local cooperative wineries, while excessive planting of vineyards contributed to a surplus of wine production, leading to depressed prices. To combat this, a vine-pulling scheme was introduced in the 1970s, which incentivized farmers to remove less suitable vineyards and focus on cultivating vineyards in favorable locations. 

This law implemented various measures to regulate the wine industry, such as obligating the declaration of harvest volumes and stocks, implementing controls on wine transportation, and establishing an anti-fraud system. While this law aimed to alleviate the situation, it did not effectively address the underlying issue of over-production in Languedoc, instead, it created the perception that only government intervention could save Languedoc's wine production, when in reality, it was the imbalance in the market that had caused the crisis. However, this crisis did lead to some positive outcomes for the Languedoc wine producers. They recognized that they were all facing the same challenges and came together in a spirit of collaboration, forming unions and cooperatives. They gained support from influential local politicians and took decisive actions to address the situation.

War years created other periods of penury through lack of labour and, in the case of the First World War, by the huge quantities of wine taken up by the army. During the mid nineteen-twenties, the vineyard was back on track again to the point where the market became saturated once again partly though large quantities coming from Algeria. The world-wide crisis following 1929 once again sent wine prices into a tailspin. The government, encouraged by Edouard Barthe, member of parliament for the Hérault département, took measures such as prohibiting plantings, limiting yields, freezing stock, mandatory distillation and sustaining cooperative wineries whose numbers grew fast between 1919 and 1939. 

Lack of manpower was not the only consequence of the First World War, and, to a lesser extent, the Second World War: there was also a dearth of chemicals for fertilizers and hay for the horses as stocks and horses, then tractors and trucks had been requisitioned. Reconstruction took time but, as from the late 1960s, the specter of over-production was once again on the prowl. Mechanization and extensive use of chemicals increased yields. When importations of Algerian wine ceased in 1969, this was replaced by wine from southern Italy. Above all, Languedoc remained stuck in the rut of a system that had not seen that wine markets were changing: large volume everyday wines were fading fast to be replaced, progressively, with quality wines in far lesser quantities.



The region’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea helps provide greater consistency across vintages than in other areas of France.

For the most part, the region has a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild springs, autumns, and winters.

There are, however, varying microclimates throughout. They can be broken down into five groups.

Mountain: In the north of the region, the climate tends to be more continental, similar to that of the nearby Rhône.

Coastal: Along the coast, there is a strong Mediterranean influence, with abundant sunshine.

South: In the southern part of the region, the climate is similar to Roussillon’s—making it suitable for more production of Carignan.

Center: In the heart of the region, the climate is classically Mediterranean.

West: In the west, the region experiences a mix of continental and Atlantic influences, which help create ideal conditions for Languedoc’s sparkling wines.

The climate and strong winds, which help prevent pests and disease by giving natural protection to the vineyards, contribute to the region’s ability to sustain a high level of organic production—36 percent of all organic French wine comes from the Languedoc – making it the country’s leader in this category. Overall, the region receives little rainfall, and in some areas the amount of rain is the lowest in France. But the Languedoc has reserves of water in most of its calcareous soils. Soil types vary, with clay and limestone being the most dominant, though there are areas where schist, shale, granite, pebbles, and sandstone are common.

The Appellations

10 Languedoc AOC:

Two AOC are solely making white wines

There are 4 Sweet Wine Appellations:

  • AOC Muscat de Frontignan (white)
  • AOC Muscat de Lunel (white)
  • AOC Muscat de Mireval (white)
  • AOC Muscat de Saint-Jean-de-Minervois (white)

3 Sparkling Wine Appellations:

Alongside these, there are also 14 designations or vineyard sites who have filed an application with the INAO for specific recognition:

11 Regional Designations:

  • Languedoc-Cabrières (red, rosé)
  • Languedoc-Grés de Montpellier (red)
  • Languedoc-La Méjanelle (red, rosé)
  • Languedoc-Montpeyroux (red)
  • Languedoc-Pézenas (red)
  • Languedoc-Quatourze (red)
  • Languedoc-Saint-Christol (red, rosé)
  • Languedoc-Saint-Drézéry (red)
  • Languedoc-Saint-Georges-d’Orques (red, rosé)
  • Languedoc-Saint Saturnin (red, rosé)
  • Languedoc-Sommières (red)

3 Sub-regional Designations:

In addition, the region also includes

19 IGP Sud de France denominations

Named not only for their viticultural aspects but also factors such as history and geography.

Heritage Sites

  • IGP Cité de Carcassonne
  • IGP Coteaux d’Ensérune
  • IGP Coteaux de Béziers
  • IGP Coteaux de Narbonne
  • IGP Coteaux du Pont du Gard
  • IGP Saint Guilhem Le Désert

Nature Preserves and Parks

  • IGP Cévennes
  • IGP Côtes de Thau
  • IGP Haute Vallée de l’Aude
  • IGP Haute Vallée de l’Orb
  • IGP Vallée du Paradis
  • IGP Vallée du Torgan

Historic Connections

  • IGP Coteaux de Peyriac
  • IGP Côtes de Thongue
  • IGP Pays Cathare
  • IGP Vicomté d’Aumelas

3 Departmental IGP Denominations

  • IGP Aude
  • IGP Gard
  • IGP Pays d’Hérault 

Key Grape Varieties

Languedoc’s AOC wines are predominantly red blends made with Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault.

Their flavor profile is dominated by red fruit and spices and is often associated with an herb blend called garrigue, containing rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, and juniper, that is typical of the region.

Red wines make up 60 percent of the Languedoc’s total production.

Rosé wines represent 19 percent,

White wines, 20 percent.

Approximately 93 percent of the wines produced in the region are still wines, while 5 percent are sparklers, and 2 percent are sweet Muscat-based vins doux naturels.


This variety has been cultivated in France since the Middle Ages.

While typically smooth and delicate, Grenache provides structure to Languedoc blends. It also has an aromatic flavor profile and an exceptional ability to age (provided yields have been controlled). Grenache is often combined with more tannic grapes, such as Syrah and Mourvèdre, in the region’s red blends. It produces round, elegant wines with notes of cherry and plum in youth, and jam, cocoa, and mocha with age. 


Wines made with Syrah tend to be robust and high in alcohol and tannins, which makes them good candidates for aging. Syrah gives low-acid, deeply colored, fruity wines with red fruit and strong floral notes, with hints of licorice, ginger, and spice. With age, Syrah develops resin and animal notes.


Grown throughout the southern Mediterranean, Carignan is a low-yield variety that produces powerful, intensely colored wines with strong tannins. It helps build the foundation in Languedoc blends, where it’s often combined with other, finer grapes, such as Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Carignan offers red and black fruit notes as well as typical regional notes of garrigue. Peppery, balsamic notes may develop as Carignan ages.


This variety’s history in France dates to the Middle Ages. Mourvèdre produces bold, full-bodied, tannic wines that are deep in color and firm in structure. It contributes complexity to Languedoc blends, and its flavor profile features blackberries, blueberries, and black currant, as well as baking spices and herbal garrigue notes.


Known for its supple, juicy, and fruity wines, Cinsault yields wines that tend to be light ruby in color with notes of sour red berries, like strawberries, currants, and cranberries. This grape is also used in the production of the Languedoc’s excellent rosé wines.


Numerous other varieties can be found in Languedoc, including Bourboulenc (Malvoisie), Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan Blanc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Clairette, Fer Servadou, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Lledoner Pelut, Macabeu, Malbec (Côt), Malvasia (Roussillon Tourbat), Marsanne, Mauzac, Merlot, Muscat, Piquepoul, Rolle (Vermentino), and Roussanne.

Consumers are seeking out Languedoc wines as new “discoveries.” These are innovative wines that combine the best of traditional practices with new winemaking ideas and technology.  

Languedoc wines today

Today, the wines of Languedoc are undergoing an exciting revival. In recent years, the region has reinvented itself by prioritizing the production of high-quality wines, making it one of the most vibrant wine regions in France. Forward-thinking winemakers have combined traditional methods with modern techniques to breathe new life into the region's appellations. Their innovative practices in the vineyard and during winemaking have resulted in a diverse range of wines that showcase the unique terroir of Languedoc, including a significant percentage of organic wines, which sets it apart in France. As a result, the Languedoc AOC has become one of the fastest-growing wine categories in the country and has shifted its production focus to wines of truly high quality.

In 2019, the entirety of Languedoc and Roussillon produced 313 million gallons of wine, with Languedoc accounting for 90% and Roussillon for the remaining 10%. The winemaking approach in Languedoc shares similarities with the New World, as both regions embrace creativity and experimentation with grape varieties and styles. This has attracted a wave of ambitious "neo-vignerons" to the area, drawn by the accessibility of land and promising winemaking opportunities in this wine lover's paradise. Languedoc is now the number producer of organic wines in France.

Today the region’s red, white and rose are being sought out as new discoveries by consumers around the world who are seeking exceptional quality and value.

We have a wonderful selection of Languedoc wines on the Frenchie webshop.

Here are a few of them.


Clos Mortillet

A Languedoc AOP located just outside of Montpellier near the village of Pignan, there Alexandre produces wines that are cultivated 100% biodynamically, handpicked and vinified traditionally with an expressive and polished profile with fresh thyme, liquorice and cherry aromas.

Picpoul de Pinet Chateau St Martin de la Garrigue

Located between Beziers and Montpellier, near the Mediterranean sea, the Chateau de Saint-Martin-de-la-Garrigue extends over 63 hectares of vineyards, surrounded by 110 hectares of pine forests, scrubland and olive groves. The vineyard is spread over around forty plots, planted east-facing slopes. This position gives the vines their important exposure to the sun and also to a humid climate, thanks to the sea breezes.

Château Saint-Martin-de-la-Garrigue is a harmonious unity between nature's exuberance and human work. Each generation of wine-makers has left its mark. Rich and varied, the estate's range presents wines from 18 varieties (10 red and 8 whites). The whole estate uses sustainable and integrated vine growing methods, certified by Terra Vitis. The wine-making process is based around traditional methods.

Refined floral and mineral undertones, lively citrus aromas.  On the palate, density, freshness and lush roundness.

Domaine d’Aupilhac

That the Languedoc has finally overcome its reputation as a source of bulk wine is a testament to the efforts of pioneers like Grange des Pères and Sylvain Fadat of Domaine d’Aupilhac, who have worked tirelessly to shine a light on the region’s finest terroirs. Montpeyroux, a quiet old wine village in the foothills of the Cévennes mountain range, produces powerful reds that remain fresh and balanced, as cool nights and occasional summer storms provide respite from the overall hot, dry Mediterranean conditions. Sylvain creates this cuvée with all the varieties permitted in the appellation, yielding an excellent snapshot of Montpeyroux. With Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, and Cinsault, this beautiful, deep-purple beast offers iron-infused black fruit, wild spice, garrigue herbs, and dense, focused minerality from the fossil-rich limestone and marl soils. Delicious and invigorating today, it can also age effortlessly—proof that a great site and honest farming are key to genuine, long-lived wines.

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