Robin Goldsmith
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Languedoc needn’t cost the earth

The Languedoc-Roussillon is the world’s biggest wine region and the first in France to be planted with vines by the Romans. Previously, the area was known more for bulk wine production than for quality and today it produces around one third of all French wine.

languedoc_landscapeIt is undoubtedly home to some of the best value ones, especially from the IGP Pays d’Oc classification. All styles are produced, although red wine, particularly from Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, remains the driving force. Another feature is the prevalence of wine cooperatives that dominate much of the region’s production.

Les Vignobles Foncalieu is France’s first co-operative, founded in 1901. Based in the Languedoc, they currently they have over 1000 winegrowers spread across Languedoc-Roussillon, Gascony and the Rhône Valley. As well as creating their own brands that showcase the diverse terroirs of their vineyards, the company also produces bespoke wines for clients in France and abroad. Environmental considerations and sustainability form an important part of their philosophy, so they have introduced organic techniques in some vineyards, installed solar panels at their headquarters and improved working conditions among other innovations.

The ‘Le Versant’ range is a collection of eight single-varietal, aromatic and elegant Pays d’Oc IGP wines, available from selected UK retailers for an RRP of £7.99-£9.99. They are all made from grapes grown on specially selected vineyards on sunny Languedoc hillsides that encourage good ripeness levels. I recently tried three of them, courtesy of R&R Teamwork– a Viognier, Merlot and Syrah from 2014, a vintage in which parts of the region suffered greatly from flooding and violent hailstorms.

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