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languedoc wine appellation and food pairing

Languedoc AOC

AOC Languedoc (formerly Coteaux du Languedoc) is one of the largest, if not actually the largest, of the French appellations. The land varies from the cooler, inland zones in the foothills of the Cevennes, where the wines are fresher, to the warmer reaches near the Mediterranean seaboard, where the style is bigger and bolder. With Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre staking a claim to a larger share in the red blends, at the expense of Carignan. Most are table wines made for every day consumption but, there are also some wines produced here which, rivals more expensive wines from other regions and offer excellent value.

The region encompasses several individual vineyard areas that may append their names to the Languedoc name. From north to south, these 12 terroirs are: Coteaux de Verargues, St Christol, St Drezery, Pic St Loup (mainly red wines, similar in style to southern Rhône wines), Montpeyroux, St Saturnin, La Mejanelle, St Georges d'Orques, Cabrieres, Picpoul de Pinet (area near the Mediterranean coast producing only dry white wines, from the Picpoul Blanc variety), La Clape and Quatourze.

Tips: These wines go well with wide range of foods. Serve with grilled red meat, poultry and meat based foods. Whites are excellent with seafood, in particular regions, like oyster, mussels and fish.
Corbières appellation, Languedoc wine and food pairing tips


The Corbières appellation covers a large, roughly square area, to the southeast of the medieval town of Carcassonne. Due to its size and the diversity of its soils, altitudes, microclimates, and grape varieties, it is difficult to generalize about the quality or style of the wines produced here.
The vast majority (80 percent) of Corbières wine is red. Carignan is the dominant grape variety, but Syrah and Mourvèdre are increasingly being planted, and Cinsault is also used. Dense, dark, full-bodied, spicy, dry red wines are the specialty here.

The Corbières vine growing area is divided into 11 distinct sub-appellations (terroirs) which may add their names to that of the Corbiéres appellation on labels, and which may eventually be granted their own AOC like Boutenac.

Tips: Serve with grilled red meat, game paté (hare, pheasant, etc) and feathered game.
Minervois appellation, Languedoc wine and food pairing


This appellation takes its name from Minerve, a town 25 miles (40km) from the Mediterranean coast. The landscape in this large region in western Languedoc, ranging from hot, limestone slopes in the heartland to rugged mountains in the west, is among the most varied in southern France. Quality has steadily improved since it gained AOC status in 1985. AOC regulations have reduced proportions of Carignan in the blends, favouring instead Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grapes. These red wines are generally softer and more supple than those of Corbières. The best Minervois wines are made in the northern zone of Minervois-la-Liviniere (awarded with its own appellation in 1997).
Minervois wines have notes of black fruits (prunes) and spices. They can be enjoyed after 2 years of bottle age, and up to 8 or even 10 years in the best vintages.

Tips: Served at 15 to 16 degree, they go well with chicken with olives, Bayonne ham, pâtés, lamb stew, duck confit, cassoulet, red meat, grilled meats, and some cheeses (Brie, Pelardon, etc ...).
Fitou appellation, Languedoc wine and food pairing tips


The Fitou appellation, granted AOC status in 1948, is for red wines only. Fitou is produced in two zones within Corbières; those from vines grown in the rugged, hilly interior are more structured and capable of aging than those from vineyards bordering the Mediterranean. In both areas, summers are hot and rainfall is extremely rare.
Fitou used to be known for its rustic character with high proportions of Carignan and Grenache. But now, the inclusion of Syrah or Mourvèdre in the blends produces finer tannins and more distinguished aromas. This great deep ruby red wines offer spicy notes on a backdrop of ripe fruit.

Tips: When young, Fitou wines are a pleasant accompaniment to grilled meats, but as they mature and their bouquet evolves, they go perfectly with game and, of course, cheese.
Faugeres appellation, Languedoc wine and food pairing tips


Faugères is located in the mountainous corner of the Herault department, between St Chinian and Cabrieres. The vineyards stand on the steeply sloping foothills of the Cevennes. The rich, deep flavors which characterize the full-bodied wines from this appellation come from a perfect combination of soil and micro-climate.

Red and rosé wines - The main grape varieties are Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre. 80 percent of grape production is used to make red wine. Today, the production is mostly of wines with a high proportion of Syrah, which are much desired for their complexity, concentration and elegance. Reds are round and powerful, offer silky tannins with sweet ripe fruit and licorice notes. Finesse and elegance characterize the rosé wines, with their floral and red fruit aromas.
White wines - Rousanne, white Grenache, Marsanne and Vermentino are the varieties used for white wines, which perfectly express the minerality of the terroir of schist. In their youth, they reveal aromas of citrus and exotic fruits, and after 4-7 years, they develop an aromatic complexity and freshness.

Tips: Reds go well with red meat and game, while Rosés can be highly appreciated as an aperitif, and are amazing with fish and Asian dishes. When young, the white wines are good as an aperitif, with grilled fish and the regional Pélardons cheese. As they mature, they are associated with spicy dishes or white meat.
St-Chinian appellation, Languedoc wines and food pairing tips


A little further west in the foothills of the Cevennes, north of Narbonne and northwest of Beziers, St Chinian shares the same history and grape varieties as Faugeres, with light rosés and impressively long-lived reds.
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Lladoner Pelut, Cardigan and Cinsault are used for reds and rosés.
The rich and generous red wines, which dominate this appellation, have elegant tannins, complex aromatics and intense fruit flavors, while the rosés are delicate and fruity.

Tips: They go well with duck or venison, and are perfect with sanglier (wild boar).
Muscat appellation, Languedoc wines and food pairing tips

Muscat Appellations

Muscat is often made as a Vin Doux Naturel, a naturally sweet wine from semi-fermented grape juice fortified with brandy and made solely from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, the most popular Muscat variety. It has a beautiful pale yellow color, with distinctly floral aromas. The Languedoc counts four Muscat appellations.

Muscat de Frontignan - this is the most renowned Muscat AOC. Vineyards are located close to the Mediterranean, between the Vic la Gardiole and Thau lagoons, near the town of Frontignan. The twisted bottle has become a symbol of that appellation.
Muscat de Lunel - vineyard are located around the town of Lunel, midway between Montpellier and Nimes. The appellation is located on land of red sandstone with siliceous red gravel.
Muscat de Mireval - the vineyards are located along the lagoon of Vic la Gardiole near the town of Mireval, between cities of Montpellier and Sète. Its rocky soil and micro-climate offer the perfect location for grapes to ripen, and develop aromatic fullness.
Muscat de St Jean de Minervois - the vineyards ared located at an altitude of 250 meters on limestone soils. The Mediterranean climate is moderated by the altitude.

Tips: Can be enjoyed slightly chilled with a cold appetizer such as melon with prosciuto, foie gras, or with fruit desserts. They are also good companions to Roquefort, Stilton or Gorgonzola cheese.
Clairette du Languedoc appellation, Languedoc wines and food pairing tips

Clairette du Languedoc

The AOC, granted back in 1948, was given in acknowledgment of the grape variety of the same name, the oldest in the Pays d'Oc. It has been grown for centuries in 11 villages between Pezenas and Clermont-l'Herault, initially for the production of sherry-like wines, and later to provide the basic material for the vermouth industry. Only recently have modern winemaking techniques revealed another aspect of this variety, its freshness and fruitiness.
Clairette is also called blanquette. These names are both references to the clear character of this wine.

Tips: Goes well with. Mediterranean cuisine, grilled fish or with a sauce, bouillabaisse, seafood, cheeses (Pélardon).
Cabardes appellation, Languedoc wine and food pairing tips

Cabardès Appellation

Located in the north of Carcassonne, the Cabardès AOC produces almost exclusively red wines with a balanced proportions of Rhône and Bordeaux grape varieties. To comply with its AOC status, gained only in 1999, it must contain at least 40 percent blend of Grenache and Syrah combined with a minimum of 40 percent Cabernet-Merlot, complemented with Malbec and Cinsault. They are generally, dark, complex and rich with an ageing potential stretching from 2 to 10 years.

Tips: These wines are best enjoyed with grilled or roasted beef, pork, lamb, poultry and game dishes.
Limoux appellation, Languedoc wines and food pairing


This region south of Carcassonne, is high in the Pyrenees foothills and away from any Mediterranean influence, with the small town of Limoux at its heart. The cool microclimate encourages good balance and acidity in white grapes and has played its part in establishing Limoux as the south's sparkling wine district. Like Champagne, the wines are made by the traditional method. Blanquette de Limoux is a good-value white sparkling wine made from a minimum of 90 percent Mauzac (known locally as Blanquette), while Crémant de Limoux has a generous amount of Chardonnay.
Since 1993, Limoux has a separate appellation for its increasingly impressive Chardonnay white wine, while red AOC Limoux, made with 50 percent minimum of merlot, was officially recognized in 2004.

Tips: Red is served at 17 degrees with grilled meats when young, and with gently simmered dishes for mature wine.
Blanquette de Limoux is a sparkling wine that can be drunk at any occasion, recommended as an aperitif or for an entire meal, and it goes well with desserts if half-dry.
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