France: Languedoc Roussillon

Around Montpellier

Coteaux du Languedoc and the Coastal Vins Doux Naturels
By Richard James

This Guide was last updated on 06 March 2010
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Main grape varieties

Languedoc AC reds are nearly all blends with a minimum of 50% of Grenache, Syrah and/or Mourvèdre in the blend, more for certain designated areas. Coteaux du Languedoc AC whites are also blends dominated by Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Picpoul Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne and Rolle.

Red

Cinsault
Results in supple, light wines and is particularly suited for rosé production.

Carignan
Thrives well on the hills on schist soils. It produces tannic wines with good colour when grown on old vines with low yields.

Grenache
Thrives in dry conditions, but is susceptible to disease. The wines are rich in aromas and texture.

Syrah
Ripens early and tends to get overripe except at altitude. However, when handled carefully it gives wines with deep colour and aromas, and good structure.

Mourvèdre
This late ripener grows best on pebbly slopes where it is less likely to suffer from the effects of drought. It produces wines with good colour, structure and aromas.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Widely used for Vins de Pays, the best examples show rich cassis fruit and a solid framework.

Merlot
Widely used for Vins de Pays, it´s most successful in cooler areas picked at perfect ripeness; otherwise the wines can be either too stalky or jammy.


White

Grenache Blanc
Used in blends to add supple fruit and body.

Clairette
The only grape permitted for Clairette du Languedoc this variety is well-suited to poor, dry soils. When blended with Grenache Blanc or Ugni Blanc, it can be used to contribute the acidity needed for Languedoc whites.

Bourboulenc
Used as a blending ingredient and is especially important for La Clape whites.

Picpoul Blanc
The only grape used for sometimes concentrated, zesty and dry Picpoul de Pinet and occasionally used in blends.

Marsanne
Used occasionally in blends or as a varietal Vin de Pays, it lends honeyed flavours and oily texture.

Roussanne
Used occasionally in blends or as a varietal Vin de Pays, it adds floral honeysuckle notes and zesty mouth-feel.

Rolle
Used occasionally in blends, also called Vermentino.

Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains
Low yielding delicate variety with grapey, orange flower flavours. The main variety for the Muscat de Lunel, de Frontignan et de Mireval Vins Doux Naturels.

Chardonnay
Used for Vins de Pays, when not over-cropped and well handled, the wines really are France´s answer to the New World.

Sauvignon Blanc
Used increasingly successfully for lively, citrus flavoured Vins de Pays.

Viognier
Relative newcomer to the Languedoc which is beginning to show great potential in the hands of certain producers. Used mainly in Vin de Pays, either on its own or as part of a blend.


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