The Languedoc is ‘the next classic region of France’
The sleeping giant of the Languedoc is “the next classic wine region of France”, according to Matthew Stubbs MW, due to the ever-increasing quality of its wines.
Speaking during a masterclass that showcased 14 wines from Languedoc pioneer Gérard Bertrand’s portfolio, at Bertrand’s flagship estate, Chåteau l’Hospitaliet, Stubbs spoke of how quickly the wines have evolved in quality.
“The Languedoc is the next classic wine region of France, but it needs to raise its profile as not many people know about the quality of the wines being made here.
“If producers want the Languedoc to be talked about in the same breath as the other fine wine regions of France, like Bordeaux and Burgundy, then you need flagship estates, which Gérard Bertrand has been establishing for years.
“The region boasts a fantastic diversity of terroirs and great wines are being made across the Languedoc. It reminds me of the Northern Rhône 20 years ago,” he said.
“The biggest surprise for me is how good the white wines from the region can be. Its profile is only going to rise, so my advice would be to buy the top wines from the region now, as they’re never going to be any cheaper,” he added.
One of the Languedoc’s big advantages when it comes to winemaking is the freedom the winemakers have to plant what they want and make the wines they want.
“It’s like the American dream in the South of France. Not having to follow the rules of the AOP gives winemakers more freedom, like they have in the New World.
“A lot of winemakers are choosing to label their wines as IGP for the freedom it gives them to experiment with grape varieties and winemaking styles,” Stubbs said.
With 246,000 hectares of land under vine, the Languedoc is one of the largest wine regions in the world; one-and-a-half times the size of Australia’s vineyard area.
Its diversity of soils, from clay and limestone to schist and granite, allows for a wide array of wine styles, from red, white and rosé to sparkling and sweet wines.
The Languedoc accounts for 40% of French wine exports in terms of volume – the equivalent of 450 million bottles of wine a year. Gérard Bertrand owns 15 wine estates throughout the Languedoc.
Having taken the reins at his family wine company after his father died in 1987, over the last 30 years Bertrand has been building up his eponymous wine company into one of the most powerful players in the Languedoc.
In 2002 he began converting his Cigalus estate to biodynamic viticulture, which is now practiced across his 15 estates, including the 9-hectare Clos d’Ora, which uses horses to plough the land.
His most recent release is a rosé called Clos du Temple, poised to compete with the best in the world, such as Garrus from Provence. Made from Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourdèdre and Viognier, the wine is aged for six months on its lees in new oak and costs around £150 a bottle.