Unknown to many, the Languedoc-Rossillion wine region is the most productive wine region in the world. They produce a third of the France total, and as recently as 2001 the production was actually higher than entire USA. One reason might be the long history as a wine growing region – it is believed that grapevines were growing here even before the first humans walked the planet, and of course the Romans took advantage of the local grapes for their own wines.
The region borders the Mediterranean and Spain, is in general dry and sunny, and as such has an excellent climate for growing grapes. Often you will see wines from Languedoc-Rossillion with the text Vin de Pays d’Oc on the label – meaning country wine from the land of the Occitan, which used to be the language of the region. Another famous appelation is Coteaux du Languedoc. Historically, the Languedoc region actually spanned down to Northern Catalonia in Spain, but now spans from the Spanish border to Provence along the Mediterranean.
Considering the proximity to the Mediterranean, you won’t be surprised to find water practically anywhere you go, whether by the Pyrenees mountains or closer to Provence. This makes it possible to take a few days hiking in the mountains followed by visits to the historical Cathar castles before going for a swim in one of the many lakes or in the Mediterranean. For the experience, I would recommend getting started in Carcassonne to see the spectacular La Cité, then visit the Domaine de Martinolles for widely recommended tastings and don’t miss a visit to the high-tech wine cave Terra Vinea near Narbonne for all your historical needs in the region.
People from Britain might have seen the region in the Chateau Monty TV series a couple of years ago, where wine critic Monty Waldin started his own wine growing in a vineyard by the Pyrenees, and has since released both his own wines and books about his adventures.