Vineyards in Languedoc – Roussillon

The Languedoc – Roussillon region in the south of France is the largest winegrowing region in France. With its 400,000 hectares of vineyard, it is even the largest wine region in the world, followed by La Mancha in Spain, Mendoza in Argentina, Sicilia in Italy, Bordeaux in France and Puglia in Italy. The Languedoc – Roussillon wine region is three times the size of Bordeaux and supplies a third of all wines that are produced in France. Well-known wines are the Corbières, the Fitou, Minervois, Blanquette de Limoux and Cabardès.

Explore the vineyards during your next holiday

When on holiday in the South of France be sure to explore the exciting surroundings of your holiday home and the plenty of vineyards. Along the Mediterranean Sea, from the Rhône to the border with Spain, there are plenty of well-known places for you to visit such as Nîmes, Montpellier and Carcassonne. This area has over 25 microclimates, which means there are also more or less 25 wine regions which each have their own soil type, temperature, rain, wind and sun hours. The common factor between all these areas is the influence of the Mediterranean Sea. Thanks to the mild climate and the warm, dry summers, the grapes develop full and juicy aromas. In the Languedoc – Roussillon region, the traditional red terroir wines are mainly produced.

Languedoc vineyards throughout the centuries

Since ancient times, from around 600 BC, there was  already talk of viticulture in the Languedoc – Roussillon region. The Greeks brought the first vines, which were later further expanded by the Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire, viticulture fell into disrepair due to the Visigoths who destroyed a lot of it. In the time of the monasteries, around 1450, viticulture was resumed and there was a flourishing period in the 17th century. Around 1870, most of the vineyards were destroyed by phylloxera and all kinds of fungal diseases. Over the next 100 years, viticulture flourished again. It became the largest wine-growing area but had a bad image seen as the area was more focussed on quantity over quality. From about 1970 onwards, quality became central. Production was reduced and the lesser good quality grape varieties were replaced by high-quality varieties. Thanks to this the wines received all sorts of quality marks. The area now produces wines of very good quality.

Blue grape varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignac, Cinsault, Malbec, Grenache, Syrah, Ileduner pelut, Macabeu, Mourvèdre, Muscat.

White grape varieties

Chardonnay, Grenache, Muscat, Chenin, Clairette, Macabeu, Marsanne, Mauzac, Piquepoul, Vermentino, Roussanne.

Quality marks of wines and wine regions

Viticulture in France has various quality marks such as the AOC, AOP, IGP or Vin de Table and are awarded if the wine meets certain conditions. Such quality marks are important to the consumer, thanks to these marks they can know where the wine comes from and what the quality is.

AOC: Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée

The most famous quality mark in France for wines is the AOC which was introduced in 1923 by Baron le Roy de Boiseaumarié. He tried to safeguard the reputation and quality of the wine estates. The maximum yield per hectare, the origin of the grape and the alcohol percentage are examined. Another condition is that the wine must be made from at least two approved grape varieties and must come from a designated AOC area. In 2011 the quality mark AOC officially came to an end, but it is still used often in practise.

AOP: Appellation d'Origine Protégé

This label was established by the European Council in 1992 and replaced the AOC in 2011. The AOP is a higher quality label than the AOC and aims, just like the AOC, to protect local products against forgery and counterfeiting. The inspection is carried out by the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO). This quality mark is also tested on the yield, origin, alcohol percentage and fertilization. This institute also checks the authenticity and quality of cheese and olive oil.

IGP: Indication Géographique Protégée

The IGP is the successor of the Vin de Pays d'Oc quality mark and is therefore called Pays d'Oc IGP. This quality mark is specially for the Languedoc – Roussillon region and is certified by Bureau Véritas Quality France. Approximately 2600 companies, 20,000 winemakers and 230 cooperatives are affiliated with this quality mark. Wines that want this quality mark need to be produced with grapes originating from the Languedoc – Roussillon region. This quality mark also allows more grape varieties than with wines with the AOC quality mark. The wine can also consist of more than one grape variety (monocépage).

Vin de Table

The lowest quality mark for French wines is the Vin de Table. To meet this quality mark, the grapes can come from anywhere in France and the alcohol content must be between 8.5% and 15%. To meet this quality mark, the wine can’t mention the year or type of wine on the label. During the period where viticulture in the Languedoc was more centred around quantity over quality, wines that meet the Vin de Table quality mark were produced a lot. Now that quality has become important, hardly any wines that have the Vin de Table quality mark are produced in Languedoc – Roussillon.

Vin de Pays

The Vin de Pays is an old quality mark that has been replaced by the IGP since 2000. These wines must be produced in a certain area and consist of one or a few grape varieties. This label was established at the time by the producers who were not covered by the AOC. In this way they still had their own quality mark.


Vinification is the making of wine from grapes. If other fruits are also used in this process, the product is called fruit wine. There are several ways to make wine:

  • Traditional fermentation: the mechanically crushed grapes are left to soak and are then pressed (red wine)
  • Soaking (maceration) uses whole grapes: soak the whole grapes to loosen aromas and tannins, after which wine can be made.
  • Soak with the skin: soak the grape before pressing (white wine)
  • The saignée technique: draining the first juice before fermentation starts (rosé)
  • Directly in barrels

Difference between white and red wine

Both white and red wine are produced by fermentation. One of the differences between the two types of wine is whether the grapes are crushed before or after fermentation. The skin of the grape is what gives red wine its color.

White wine is usually made from white grapes, but can also be made from red grapes seen as the juice of red grapes is almost always white. To make white wine from red grapes it is important that the skin of the grapes isn’t damaged. When making red wine, the red grapes are first crushed. The juice is called must and the peels and the kernels are called marc. Immediately after the crushing, alcoholic fermentation begins. The must and marc are then separated. The wine that flows naturally from the tank is known as free run. The remainder of the marc is pressed, which is the press wine. Rosé is created by removing the crushed skins early on during the wine-making process. If the crushed grape skins are left in longer, red wine will form. Originally, rosé was seen as a type of waste wine, these days it is just as popular as white or red wine.

Wines and wine regions


In the south of the Aude, between Narbonne and Carcassonne, you’ll find the vineyard of Corbières. Red AOC wines are mainly produced here from the Carignan, Grenache and Syrah. The vineyard of Corbières is the largest wine appellation in the Languedoc region.


Fitou is the oldest AOC in Languedoc and lies southwest of Narbonne in the Aude. These wines are seen as superior Corbières wines.


The Cabardès vineyards are located Northwest of Carcassonne and west of the Minervois. This wine region is the only AOC area where the winegrowers are required to grow 50% Atlantic grape varieties and 50% Mediterranean grape varieties.

Côtes de la Malapère

The Massif de la Malapère with its extensive vineyards lies southwest of Carcasonne and northwest of Limoux. It is located in the Aude department, near the Pyrenees.


Limoux has five AOC appellations: Le crémant de Limoux, La Blanquette de Limoux, La Blanquette méthode Ancestrale, Limoux and Limoux Rouge. The appellations are located in the south of the Aude department and southwest of the city of Carcassonne.

Other regions

Other well-known regions and their wines are the wines from Banyuls and Collioure, the Côtes du Roussillon, the Coteaux du Languedox, the Minervois and the muscat wine Rivesaltes.


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