The Greeks developed the first vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon around the 6th century BC. As in most French vineyards, the Romans then structured the soils and brought their technical knowledge. From the 17th century onwards, wine started to play a key role in the local economy thanks to the construction of the Canal du Midi and the development of rail networks. Production increased dramatically, unfortunately undermining general quality. This caused the great revolt of winemakers in 1907, ruined by overproduction, competition from other regions and production of adulterated wines.
From the early 1980s, the local wine industry started a large restructuring to achieve better quality and improve its reputation, rehabilitate traditional grape varieties and optimise typical Mediterranean varieties.
There are now about 20 Appellations in the region for reds, whites, rosés and also natural sweet wines. Planting of diversified grapes in different types of soils allows winemakers to produce a wide range of wines. The Roussillon is especially well known for its concentrated red wines coming from the hilly parts of the area, close to the Spanish border.
Corbières, Faugères, IGP d’Oc, La Clape, Languedoc, Minervois, Montpeyroux, Pézenas, Pic Saint-Loup, Saint Chinian... etc
Dry wines: IGP des Côtes Catalanes, IGP d’Oc, Collioure, Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Maury Sec
Sweet wines: Rivesaltes, Maury, Banyuls, Banyuls Grand Cru, Muscat de Rivesaltes
Grenache is the most widely planted grape variety in Languedoc-Roussillon, as it is suitable to hot climates. It is used to make full-bodied red wines, but it is also the main grape of natural sweet wines such as Banyuls and Maury.
Produces tannic, full-bodied wines of intense colour with black fruit, pepper and floral aromas.
This grape gives full-bodied, colourful and tannic red wines of high quality; they are often suitable for ageing in wooden barrels. It is widely used to add complexity to blended wines.
Other red grapes
Carignan, Cinsault, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc
These international varieties are the most widely planted white grapes. Both produce refreshing still wines and Chardonnay is also used for sparkling and sweet wines.
Gives either natural sweet white wines or dry white wines with a long finish of peach aromas.
Other white grapes
Several other white grapes are locally planted in some areas, such as Clairette, Bourboulenc, Viognier, Picpoul, Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino or Ugni Blanc.
Surface: 246,000 ha
Production: 150m bottles