For centuries the Languedoc-Roussillon region has been famed for its ideal vine growing conditions, and today it is still one of the most important wine making areas of France.

Its wine making history can be traced back to before Roman occupation, predating both Bordeaux and Burgundy. Aside from being the birthplace of French wine, the Languedoc-Roussillon can also boast being the birthplace of two of the world's most popular styles of wine: sparkling wine and fortified wine (the technique of adding alcohol to a wine while it ferments, as in port or the locally produced Muscat de Rivesaltes, Maury and Banyuls).

The region borders the western half of the Mediterranean, from the Spanish border all the way up and around to Montpelier. The land dedicated to wine production covers approximately 160,000 hectares or 400,000 acres.

Together, Languedoc and Roussillon produce more than one-third of all the wine made in France, and more than twice as much wine as all of Australia. There are around 50,000 growers working with 400 co-operatives, this equates to around 70% of the regions production, and just under 3,000
private wineries. We are talking a lot of wine, more than 3 billion bottles a year.

Its ideal Mediterranean climate and diverse landscape, produces a vast range of wines to suit every taste and budget. Lots of people don't know the wine they're drinking comes from the Languedoc-Roussillon. Chalk this confusion up to an unnecessarily complicated labelling system.

The wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon are called different things depending on where they are from, the grapes used, and the yields of those grapes. At the top in terms of quality are the appellation wines, and less than
25% of the wine produced falls within the AOC classification. There are 27 named Appellation d’Origine Controlées (AOC) and Appellation d’Origine Vin De Qualité Supérieure (AOVDQS), which include familiar names like Corbière (1), Minervois (2), Cabardes (3), Fitou (4), Faugères (5), Blanquette de Limoux (6), St. Chinian (7) and Maury (8). Unfortunately, aside from the Côteaux du Languedoc (9) and Côtes du Roussillon (10), the names of Languedoc and Roussillon often don't even appear on the label.

The next tier is the Indication Geographique Protegée/Vin de Pays wines. IGP/VDP D'Oc are typically single grape variety wines and usually have the grape written on the front label. After that, there is a long list of regional Vin de Pays wines. These are wines declassified because of either excessive yields (cheaper wines) or because they use grapes that are not allowed under the AOC rules (not necessarily cheaper wines). Approximately 50% of the production falls within classification.

This classification, which literally translates as "country wine," was adopted for wines that were a step-up in quality from simple "Vin de Table," and exhibit some sort of regional "terroir." It is ironic that the most prestigious and expensive wines from the region share the same appellation Vin de Pays (Vin de Pays de l'Hérault) as many of the cheaper wines. And, again, there is no mention of Languedoc-Roussillon on the label.  

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