In matters of wine, less is often more. Not when it comes to drinking it, of course, but in producing it. That’s the lesson from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon wine makers.
The region produces more wine than any other in France. Indeed, in the 1980s, it produced around ten per cent of the entire world’s wine. Its reliably sunny climate made it easy for vines to thrive throughout the region.
Unfortunately, however, not all of its land is conducive to producing great wines.
Steep slopes tend to make the vines work hard and the result is often great wine. On the whole, the hilly areas of the region – such as Corbières and Minervois – produce the most respected wines of the Languedoc.
The plains between Narbonne and Montpelier, by contrast, don’t require much from the vines and their unremarkable wines are frequently sold as vin de table.
The challenge for the past 20 or 30 years has been how to steer the region’s wine growers away from mass production of plonk towards smaller yields of better-quality wines.
However, before you think I am taking the high ground on this, I must come clean. There remains a place for cheaper wines. After all, the Minervois I am enjoying as I write this was bought in a British supermarket for £3.99.