For those who have discovered or who already live in the Languedoc, we don’t need to tell you what an astounding region it is. Sea, mountains, rolling vineyards, fantastic weather, picture-postcard villages, the Languedoc has it all. For those who haven’t had the good fortune to experience this remarkable area, we at Languedoc Select want to help you discover it through its single most important product: Wine.

There is no other region in the world in which the whole essence of the society is expressed through its wine. Wine courses through the veins of just about everyone on every social level in the Languedoc. In Bordeaux and Champagne, wine is an inherently bourgeois business. In Burgundy the quantities produced are infinitesimally small in comparison. The wines of the Loire cover several, disparate regions. Only in the Languedoc does wine matter so much to so many people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all the wine is good. Far from it. The Languedoc is still labeled as a region more concerned with quantity rather than quality, a gigantic albatross around its’ neck which still hampers the best marketing efforts of quality winemakers, and which keeps prices artificially low in comparison with other wine producing areas. Five euros will buy you a very decent bottle of Languedoc wine. In Bordeaux most five euros bottles are best used up shaken on your chips.

The Languedoc wine producing area stretches from the Rhone Valley in the east to Limoux in the west and Fitou to the south west. In between, there is probably the largest wine-growing region in the world. We could list all the various appellations and Vins de Pays (IGP) here, but you’d fall asleep before getting half way through. Suffice to say, there are hundreds of communes producing great wines. Some have given their names to appellations, like Faugères, others are part of appellations or designated areas like Côtes de Thongue IGP.  All of these areas are supposedly put together to reflect a local quality or typicity. Sometimes this seems to work, particularly with smaller zones. Others are a cobbled-together hotch-potch of areas which are difficult to comprehend. Take AOP St Chinian. If anyone can explain to me what the areas of Vieussan and Murviel-lès-Béziers have in common geologically or climatically, then I’m all ears.

Our advice to anyone who wants to discover or to find out more about the wines of the Languedoc is to try the wines. Of course there are lots of different “terroirs”, some of them fascinating: the incredible white stones of St. Jean de Minervois; the schistes of Faugères and St Chinian; the sandy vineyards on the edge of the Camargue , not to mention all the gravels, clays and limestones that litter the region. However, don’t rely on Wikepedia-style generalizations to tell you what the wine’s like. Within every area there is good and bad. At Languedoc Select we think that the Wineries that we recommend are all quality wine producers, some of whom produce wines that are particularly influenced by their terroir. Visit a selection of our wineries and do some tasting, talk to the winemakers, and you’ll learn more in a week about the Languedoc’s wines than you will by reading a hundred books or blogs.

The beauty with wine down here in the Languedoc is that despite all the nonsense imposed on winemakers by the powers that be, it has still become one of the great wine “laboratories” of the world. Because there’s such a mass of wine produced down here, and so many winemakers, there are loads who are trying new things: Oak chips; oak staves; new yeasts; oak barrels from all over the world; re-planting long-forgotten grape varieties; experimenting with new blends. Some people are also planting grape varieties which seem a little incongruous in the Languedoc. Over in the cooler west of the region there have been experimental plantings of Gewurztraminer, normally a German or Alsatian grape. The results are apparently amazing. I’m not sure whether this is even a step too far for me, but what the heck! If the wine’s good why should it matter that it’s a northern variety?

The raison d’être of Languedoc Select, is to connect the substantial expatriate community in touch with the fantastic depth of talent within the winemaking community down here. We know that it’s not always easy to pitch up at a Domain, and hope that the Vigneron is friendly, and will appreciate your efforts at speaking French. We have taken the guesswork out of Domain visits. We have chosen Domains which will offer you a warm welcome, a convivial tasting area, and most importantly, great wines. Our Member Domains don’t expect you to buy a car load of wine. They want you to come back, and be a regular visitor, and hopefully introduce their wines to your friends…

All we ask is that you take the plunge, get your free membership, and take advantage of this precious resource. And to benefit from your 10% discount, we only ask that you purchase six bottles (mixed or otherwise).

Languedoc Select is also an event organizer, from Tapas and Tasting evenings, to Mediterranean Celebrations and Harvest Days. For 2012 we are introducing our “Discover A Domain” series, where you will get the chance to see and taste what the ordinary client doesn’t see. Keep an eye on the Events Page for details.

In 2012, Languedoc select will run Introductory Wine Courses. These courses will not deliver a certificate, as we feel that this may inject too much pressure into the course, when it is aiming to be fun as well as informative. Check out the Courses page for more info.

Keep up with all the news from the wine world on our News page. This is updated weekly with articles by Colin and Dom, as well as loads of links to wine and gastronomy-related articles. Nothing that matters in the world of wine will escape our attention and you’ll be the first to hear about it.