Languedoc, the coastal wine region in the South of France, is known for its variety of quality wines, but not only…
Everyone that has visited this area by the Mediterranean, knows that the culture, the food, and the people here are authentic, and rich of a lifestyle that takes full advantage of the local sun and natural beauty.
Join me as we go and explore some of the wonders found in Languedoc….
Languedoc’s Food Tradition & Cuisine
The plentiful sunshine of Languedoc, and its coastal situation, give the Languedociens (the French name to designate the local people) a wealth of tasty Mediterranean ingredients to cook with, or simply to enjoy on their own… with a glass of wine.
Languedoc cuisine is authentic and tasty, respecting the quality of the local produce and typically featuring olive oil, garlic, onions, and Provencal herbs such as thyme, rosemary, basil, bay leaves or sage.
It is not rare that wine is used into the cooking as well, to flavor and intensify sauces and stews.
Chefs and home cooks can pick from a variety of ingredients, both from the Earth and from the sea.
All types of vegetables grow here. But those needing loads of sun such as zucchini, eggplants, capsicum, tomatoes are at home in the area.
Mushroom and game are found in the forests and garrigues surrounding the vineyards.
While the Mediterranean is a source of popular seafood such as the Thau Bassin oysters, mussels, sea bream, red mullet or squid.
Like grapes, fruits are easy to grow and to ripen into sweet and juicy delights. In summer and early autumn, look out for apricot, peaches or figs in particular.
The result? A cuisine encompassing the variety of flavors provided by the blessed local climate.
Some of the best-known regional specialties include Bourride à la sétoise, (a monkfish dish with aioli and white wine sauce), Nîmes’ codfish brandade, Cassoulet from Castelnaudary or Carcassone (bean stew with sausage), Gardiane (red wine and beef stew red served with rice) small pâtés of Pézenas, or anchovies gratinés.
Popular sweets and desserts are caramelized apricot tarts, Limoux king cake, the croustade languedocienne, or the grisettes de Montpellier (candies the size of a green pea flavored with honey and licorice).
The Wines of Languedoc – Food-Friendly Delights of all colors
If you haven’t explored Languedoc wines yet, you might still be with the idea in mind that they are all about red wines. This could not be more untrue. Languedoc produces wines of all colors and styles.
Languedoc is the largest wine-producing region in France, covering a total vineyard surface of 40,000 ha, and extending from the Pyrenees mountain ranges, to the Mediterranean coast and the fringes of the Massif Central.
Soils, climates and grapes are very varied, and allow to produce a large variety of wine styles too. There are no less than 23 controlled origin appellations (AOCs) and 22 Protected Geographical Indications (IGPs).
About 3 out of 4 Languedoc wines are red, mostly made from the 4 iconic grapes of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan.
If you’re not familiar with them, look out for one of the 7 crus of Languedoc, expressive wines produced in limited quantities on some of the best terroirs, with some of the lowest yields in France. These are:
- Pic Saint Loup
- La Clape
- Minervois-La Livinière
- Saint-Chinian Roquebrun.
But there are also many others that you can explore further on this very site at Discover Languedoc Wines. Don’t overlook areas that produce great wines at an excellent quality price ratio such as Corbières, Cabardès, Fitou, or the Terrasses du Larzac.
What is less known is that nearly 25% of the region’s wine production is white or rosé.
Rosé wines here are generally dry, yet fruity and with a hint of savoriness, ideal for pairing with food.
The must-try white wines of Languedoc include:
- Picpoul de Pinet: dry, mineral and crisp white wines that are born to be paired with seafood, oysters in particular.
- Clairette du Languedoc: flavorsome whites made either as dry or slightly sweet wines, with even a small rancio production.
- The white wines of Limoux and La Clape: arguably those two areas produce some of the most interesting whites in Languedoc, both benefitting in their own way small cooler climates and limestone-rich soils, Limoux being much more inland while La Clape is coastal and cooled down by the sea breezes.
Yes, there are also plenty of sparkling wines produced in Languedoc. They account for about 5% of the region’s output.
This is the territory of the famous Limoux area, and its popular Clairette (mainly Mauzac grape) or its Crémants (which include Chardonnay, Chenin, or Pinot Noir).
Both whites and rosés are made. They are most commonly Brut (dry) although the Limoux Methode Ancestrale is a sweet version with low-alcohol.
And let’s not forget the sweet, fortified, and flavorsome wines made from Muscat under the Muscats de Frontignan, Lunel, Mireval or Saint-Jean-de-Minervois AOCs.
Sea, Sun, History, and Good Times
Essentially, there is a wine to pair with each dish and produce here.
Perhaps this is what makes the local people so joyful and happy. Perhaps it’s also the local sunny climate that allows for large gatherings under a tree or on the sea shore.
Yes, the Languedoc lifestyle is not only about enjoying the good things in life, the good food and the good wine, but also about the sharing and the smiling.
If you ever visit, make sure not to stay at the beach all the time, but to go and explore further inland, in vineyard territory as well. The region counts with an incredible number of historic sites and attractions, Languedoc region is also a land of colours.