Wines from the southernmost French appellation are trending again, thanks to daring young winemakers and characterful wines made to fall in love with
Wines from Languedoc are trending again, and there are plenty of modern bottles to covet and collect
Is it the new Bordeaux or Burgundy? A couple decades ago, the world’s biggest wine-producing region of Languedocroussillon might have been happy to claim so, but today it is proud to be Languedoc, the new world of French wines that’s slowly forsaking its vin de table reputation.
“It used to be the ‘wine factory’ of France, but the situation has changed dramatically,” notes Boon Heng from Wein & Vin. “Top French producers such as Michel Cases of Lynch Bages (Bordeaux) and Anne Gros (Burgundy) have recognised that there are good terroirs there. Languedoc’s producers are more relaxed and warm hearted. It’s quite common to be welcomed to dine with the family or stay in the estate. As a region, it’s a charming but rugged outback with garrigues (scrublands) and low-lying hills.”
Freedom came with the introduction of the Vins de Pays category in the 1980s, which allowed producers more control over grape varietals and where to plant, outside of the French Appellation d’origine Protégée (AOP) )—formerly Appellation d’origine Contrôlée (Aoc)—rules.
To gain more perspective, we turned to Basile Guibert, the youngest son of Veronique and Aime Guibert of Mas de Daumas Gassac, one of the pioneering families of the “grower” style Languedoc which started in 1972. He happens to be based in Singapore as the company’s ambassador to Asia, although he and his three brothers are firmly stewards of their fully organically farmed vineyards, some 52 small plots among 3,000 hectares of protected forest.
“French regulations exist to protect the consumers and enhance a vision of a specific terroir with a specific set of rules. But what if you’re a French winemaker who wishes to create something unique, that has a story or a style that goes beyond what an AOP label allows? Then you have to look at what has happened in Languedoc across 30 years where the greatest wines (Roc d’anglade, Granges des Pères, Mas de Daumas Gassac) haven’t gone the appellations path,” enthuses Guibert. “This bold decision allowed us freedom and creativity: to create grands vins with 25 grape varieties; to create a style so unique that taking Mas de Daumas Gassac to a blind tasting is the wine lover’s favourite trump card!”
The introduction of the Vins de Pays category in the 1980s opened the doors to more unique, quality expressions of the varietals that thrive in the Languedoc region