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Coteaux du Languedoc


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In the Languedoc-Roussillon, the French concept of terroir is not as important as in other regions. Usually, the largest appellations in places like Alsace and Burgundy signify the lowest quality. But the Languedoc-Roussillon is a definite exception to this rule, with the gigantic Corbières probably the most reputable appellation in the region. The Coteaux du Languedoc appellation is similar.

At 20,700 acres, Coteaux du Languedoc is more than half the size of Corbières. Montpeyroux is the village in which most of the wines are produced, but since the appellation encompasses the many hills of the Languedoc region, there are plenty of others. Production has almost caught up to that of Corbières, with more than 81 bottles for every 100 that Corbières makes. In wine terms, this makes for around 4.5 million cases of annual production.

The wines are surprisingly varied, much more so than the predominantly red Corbières. Red wine is still a solid majority of bottles with 80% of production, but roughly 10% each for whites and rosés still translates to hundreds of thousands of cases. The reds are made from the same grapes as Corbières, but have more red fruit and game than dark fruit and herbs.

History

Nineteen eighty-five was a big year for the Languedoc, as two umbrella AOCs were created: Corbières and Coteaux du Languedoc. Millions of bottles from ambitious producers, who had previously had to label their wine under the low-quality vin de pays appellations, were allowed to upgrade to these appellations. The creation of these two helped the Languedoc out of its wine rut, and in the 21st century these appellations remain promising.

Climate and Viticulture

The ground appellations of the Languedoc tend to have schist soils, which contributes to the similarity in climate between the Languedoc and the Rhône. The vineyards of the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation, however, tend to be located on limestone hills. It is for this reason that Coteaux du Languedoc wines have such unique red fruit qualities.

Due to the colder weather on the hills, and less of a maritime influence, the wines are much more serious. They are also lower in alcohol. It is interesting that the same grapes, in the same general area, make such different wines depending on the altitude.

Grape Varieties

White grapes are essentially the same as in Corbières, but here they can make a much different wine with a nice acidic bite. Vermentino, known locally as Rollé, is one of the most common, and Marsanne and Roussanne can make a Rhône-like white from time to time. Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, and Picpoul Blanc are part of the supporting cast of white grapes.

Meanwhile, reds and rosés are mainly made up of five grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and Carignan. These are the same grapes as in the rest of the Languedoc-Roussillon, but in Coteaux du Languedoc they take on a much different character. In the cooler climate, the wines are less warm and wild, having more serious flavors of red berry fruit, game, and sometimes even a sharp, mineral tang. Full-bodied, and able to pair with big game, they are some of the most ageable reds in the Languedoc.

Major Producers

The inexpensive wines of the Coteaux du Languedoc almost always have character, as that's part of the magic of the Languedoc. As for true leaders of the appellation, we have selected eight standouts as our features.

Subregions

There are eight terroirs in the Coteaux du Languedoc. In Burgundy this would be a small amount, but in the Languedoc the eight appellations do a good job of dividing and distinguishing the wines. Note: Coteaux du Languedoc no longer includes Faugères AOC, which has in fact been split off from its original appellation.