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Things to do in the Languedoc:   Drinking Wine and Making Wines:   History

Wine has been grown here for at least two and a half millenia, when the Greeks settled here.

Production continued through the Roman Empire, the Christian Dark Ages and the Middle Ages, and into modern times. It was of course hit by phylloxera, like most other French wines. For almost a century after the phylloxera, the wines of Languedoc were often referred to as Army Wines - large quantity, low quality.

At the beginning of the 70s, it became clear that the region was not ready for the changing wine market. Production exceeded the demand, especially when the European Common Market introduced even cheaper Spanish and Italian wines. The quality was mediocre. Languedoc prices were high compared to Italian, Spainish and new wine growing countries. Languedoc Roussillon wine makers were forced to change or give up. Huge areas of vines were grubbed up (subsidised by the Common Market).

Those who remained began to use new techniques like aging the wine in oak barrels. They replaced low quality grape varieties with better ones like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (red), Chardonnay and Viognier (white). 120,000 hectares were replanted under a rejuvenation programme. New plantings brought in new varietals. Improvements started particularly in the appellations of Minervois, Corbiere and Fitou and have since spread throughout the Midi. Many of these wines are developing a reputation as offering the best value in France, still underpriced in comparison with their counterparts from other regions. Because of this, Languedoc Roussillon is now one of the most successful wine regions in France.


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 Wine Barrels.

History of Wines in the Languedoc