Though Provence might be the capital for French rosé, it’s the Languedoc that reigns king for sparkling, whites and reds. From mouth-filling, full-bodied whites, to rich and robust reds, as well as casually discovering the OG way to produce Champagne-style sparklers, there’s really not much that the Languedoc can’t do.
The region proudly boasts 700,000 acres under vine, making it the world’s largest wine-producing region. In fact, over 33 percent of France’s wine comes from this large and in charge southern beauty. Despite a long-standing reputation for mediocre bulk wine, today, we’re honing in on one of the region’s tiny little appellations in the Aude department; tucked away in one of France’s sunniest southern regions, and known for its high-quality wine production, we’re introducing you to Languedoc’s prized appellation, La Clape.
La Clape may only cover a mere 17 kilometers in size, though its unforgettable landscape is sure to take the breath away from any wine drinker. The appellation is surrounded by well-draining plains, steep seaside cliffs and low-lying lagoons, all perfectly placed alongside the Mediterranean’s sparkling turquoise waters. Various trees and local garrigue dot the appellation’s floors, whose soils are comprised of sand and mineral-driven clay.
The climate of La Clape is any sun lover’s dream; a combination of hot sun and wind keep the area dry, with over 3,000 hours of sunlight gracing the region annually. Such abundant sunlight allows grapes to reach their maximum potential, leading the way to juicy, rich, full-bodied wines. Nearly 80 percent of the appellation’s wines are red, with the remaining 20 percent dedicated to white production. Summers are hot, winters are mild, and overall, the appellation creates a pretty pleasant place to live – both for grapes and their farmers alike. As of today, about 25 independent producers call the stunning appellation home.
Gérard Bertrand, a local pioneer of the region, sought to shed light on this oftentimes overshadowed region by establishing the epicenter of his Languedoc-Roussillon based empire right here in the center of La Clape. What started out as a facility to set the ‘benchmark for the Mediterranean art de vivre’ has now exploded across the region; with 82 hectares across the entire Languedoc, including vines in the highly-sought after La Clape appellation, the region’s local superstars of Syrah and Carignan, as well as Grenache, Mourvèdre, and white ‘Rhône’ varieties, have finally found themselves flourishing on the international market.
Bertrand has also brought significant attention to the techniques of biodynamic farming, a practice that continues to grow across the La Clape appellation, and the Languedoc region, as a whole.
For those nights where Provence is too pricy and the Rhône feels slightly exhausted, look to the hidden gems of the Languedoc, specifically La Clape, to fill all of your southern French vino cravings!