South of France - Languedoc - The Growing Environment and Grape Growing

4 important questions on South of France - Languedoc - The Growing Environment and Grape Growing

Describe the environment of the Languedoc

  • Low lying alluvial plain
  • 220.000ha (under vine is half of what it was in 1968): removal was due to overproduction
  • Mediterranean climate
  • Great range of Rhône varieties (GSMCC) and local varieties (piquepoul)
  • Large volumes of single variety wines sold as IGP
  • sourced in the past from Algeria till 1973.
  • Was big up till 1950s with 90% produced by Coops.
  • Even todays coops account for 2/3 of the area's production
  • The largest source of everyday wine in France
  • today: inexpensive wines accompanied, with small production high quality wines.

What is the Climate of the Languedoc?

  • Mediterranean; very favorable for wine growing
    • high levels of sunshine
    • rainfall < 600 mm/y
    • very warm summers
    • low moisture levels and cool dry Tramontane n-w wind 200 days/year > therefore low degree of fungal diseases > growth of organic winemaking
    • low spraying, low cost
    • Low rainfall can also reduce production, where no irrigation is placed in dry years

Describe Carignan, the most planted black variety in Languedoc

  • Late budding
    • avoid spring frost
  • late ripening
    • needs long ripening season
  • high yielding (>200 hl/ha)
    • popular in past
  • prone to powdery mildew and grape moths
  • Tannic
  • bunches firmly attached to vine
    • no machine harvest possible
  • replaced with other varieties after EU vine pull scheme (neutral wines with high yielding, no machine harvest)
  • high acidity and tannins
    • > softening by maceration carbonique or blending
  • unoaked, medium ruby, blackberry, high acidity, high tannins
  • acceptable-good
  • inexepensive
  • good-outstanding:
    • older vines are oaked
    • intense black fruit
    • spice and earthy

How are vines grown in Languedoc?

  • Historically bush vines
    • to shade the bunches, adapted to the climate
  • In recent decades more trellises
    • mechanisation possible > reducing costs
    • IGP wines in general machine harvested

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