Languedoc-Roussillon, located in southern France, is a large, diverse wine region that spans the area along the Mediterranean coastline from the French border with Spain all the way to Provence. In fact, Languedoc-Roussillon is the single largest wine producing region in the world, accounting for more than 33% of all French wines produced. By way of comparison, Languedoc-Roussillon annually produces more wine than the entire United States.
As might be expected, this focus on quantity has sometimes led to concerns about quality. The reputation of Languedoc-Roussillon is that of a mass producer. During the industrialization of France, for example, it was the relatively cheap, affordable wines from this region that became the favorites of the working class. And during both World Wars, Languedoc-Roussillon supplied the daily wine rations for French soldiers. Over the past two decades, however, efforts have been made to move away from blended wines to wines that are bottled with just a single varietal.
While Languedoc-Roussillon is a single wine region, there are many differences between Languedoc, located along the coastal plains of the Mediterranean, and Roussillon found within the valleys and foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Languedoc has historically been more influenced by the French tradition, whereas Roussillon has always been more influenced by the Spanish and Catalan tradition.
The most popular grape varietals in France include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. In addition, the Rhone grapes of Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and Viognier are also popular. In terms of climate and terroir, Languedoc-Roussillon shares similarities with Provence and Southern Rhone.
Winemaking has existed in Languedoc-Roussillon ever since the early Greeks appeared in the 5th century BC. As a result, Languedoc-Roussillon has some of the oldest planted vineyards in all of France.
Here is a brief audio guide on Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. Check it out.