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 wine styles


Recently winemakers have been encouraged to decrease the amount of Carignan (although those with suitable clones of low yielding old vines quite rightly use as much as is allowed, ironically) and Cinsault in the blend in favour of Grenache and Syrah, so more ‘modern’ wine styles tend to include higher proportions of the latter two varieties. The wines can be oak-aged, often for at least 12 months. Vineyards at higher altitudes produce more elegant complex wines that are approachable when young but age well for up to six years. Styles vary from supple and fruity to more intense and concentrated with notes of forest fruits, spice, leather, herbs reminiscent of the garrigue, and even lavender!


Crisp, fruit-driven, dry styles that are improving all the time.


Dry, medium or sweet wines are produced. There are many neutral dry whites, but Picpoul de Pinet, a unique and often good quality/value for money Languedoc dry white, deserves to be more widely appreciated around the world.

Vins Doux Naturels

These fortified wines (15-16%) are made using the mutage process, by adding grape spirit to the juice at the start of fermentation. This stops fermentation and leaves some residual sugar. Strict criteria concerning alcohol and sugar levels have to be met before wines can be labelled accordingly, and the yield is low to control stocks. Ranging from golden to orange in colour these wines are luscious and sweet.

Vins de Liqueur

These wines are also produced by mutage as for Vin Doux Naturel. However, for Vin de Liqueur the addition of grape spirit is added before fermentation resulting in an alcoholic strength of around 16 to 17 per cent.

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