Rising tides of quality in France’s “ocean of wine”
Representing one-fourth of France’s total vineyard area, the vast Languedoc traces its viticultural roots back to 125 BC, when vines were first planted on the hills outside Narbonne, an important Roman port. From the late 19th century through most of the 20th century, following the expansion of the railway system and a proliferation of new trade routes, this sun-soaked region came to be relied on more for quantity—as a supplier of bulk wine—than quality, and its reputation diminished accordingly. In the late 1980s, however, a new generation of growers, led by our long-time partner Oliver Jullien, set out to prove that truly great wine could be produced in the Languedoc’s best terroirs. While the region still issues forth a plethora of uninspiring wines from its many flat-alluvial-plain vineyards, the high-altitude hillsides of appellations like Terrasses du Larzac, Corbières, Minervois, and Faugères can yield rugged, compelling, age-worthy wines in the hands of capable growers.