How Languedoc wine entered the global market of the 21st century: an interview with Meyeren Lemguerille


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Wine from Languedoc-Roussillon, or Languedoc-Roussillon, is the south of France long known for volume rather than quality, with much of the surplus converted to neutral spirits. Thousands of traditionally owned farmer cooperatives have preserved the old methods. But by the 1990s, more individualistic and forward-thinking wines saw that, with improvements in vineyard management, technology and a focus on terroir, Languedoc wines could easily compete with better-known regions, including the Rhône Valley to the northeast, where Syrah and Grenache are found. dominant and of increasingly high quality in Languedoc. For an update on the state of viticulture in the region, I interviewed Miren de Lorgeril of Maison Lorgeril, with links dating back to 1620 and whose adviser until 2018 was Patrick Lyon, former artistic director of Domaine Baron Philippe Rothschild.

His family in the area dates back more than 400 years. Were they famous for making good Languedoc wines in the 18th and 19th centuries?

We have some references about history. I know that pinotier wine was served to royal officials in 1701.

In Languedoc there are hundreds of cooperatives that produce huge amounts of wine, some of which have become a lake of alcohol in Europe. Are these cooperatives still very conservative in the way they make their wine?

Due to the massive efforts of the last 20 years, at least 70% of these cooperatives have changed their options and now produce vin de cépages at the standard level, at least, and between 20% and 30% are HVE or organic. Their technical commitments to winegrowers have increased a lot, so the difficulties they face are not related to the quality of the wine but in conjunction with wines from other countries that do not have the same costs as, for example, Spain. . This is the reason why some of the molasses is not fully sold and is not converted into alcohol.

Every region is different. Burgundy is a small region with an exceptional level of knowledge of a piece, the fruit of history. Bordeaux is a region with a big difference between some of the best wines and a great medium level production. The Languedoc AOP is the size of Burgundy and has an ambition for excellence, so some of the greatest Languedoc wines have the same ambition and are now reaching the highest levels. We work with the same level of technology and equipment as Burgundy and Bordeaux, so we can reach these levels. Some of the soils and microclimates in the AOP range are at the same level, and we are sure that these levels of quality are achievable for some and accessible to many.

Their Chardonnay is a very good example of the French style of this breed. How is your Chardonnay made?

Chardonnay Marquis de Pennautier, Pays d’Oc is produced on limestone/clay soils. The grapes are harvested by hand at the coolest time, between six and ten in the morning, to obtain their natural freshness. 50% is soaked in oak and the rest in deposits.

What is The Importance of The Sea Winds In Your Land Of Vineyards?

Our land has settled in the Château de Pennautier in a place where the Pyrenees and the Massif Central are almost close, near Carcassonne. It’s a natural place for air to flow, so the winds get faster and stronger. The winds that come from the Mediterranean (east) are quite strong, since the sea is close to it, 70 km, while the Atlantic winds (300 km) reach the area after crossing the southwest of France, where there is no natural wind. Obstacle in front of them, they reach this narrow area and face the Mediterranean winds. This gives plenty of chances for rain and fresh air, which is great for balancing the wine.

Was Agritourism Important In Languedoc? Can People Visit Your property?

Agritourism is important in Languedoc and is growing: 30% of the famous estates are open to the public for wine tastings; 10% for large visits. We have been pioneers in this field, opening to the public in 2002, with a tasting, winery, restaurant and apartments for rent in the vineyard. The castle itself is a historical monument and the garden is classified as a Jardin Park. The park tour is open daily, and the castle is open to rent for seminars and events, including 24 rooms for groups.

How Do You Think You Can Defend Yourself Against The Worst Aspects Of Climate Change?

We are aggressively adapting to climate change in many ways. Plantngs are taller and taller in height. The vegetable cover in the vineyard is used during the winter to activate natural fertilization and help the roots of the vine go deeper. It also increases organic life in the soil. We also pay attention to the quality of the overall environment of the vineyards in the trees, the bees and all the natural life around the vineyards. We use irrigation on some packages where possible.

What Makes Your Wine Organic And Why Is It more Expensive To Produce?

The organic charter gives us the “Bio” label, which means that no chemical products are used in the vineyard. As a result, many paperwork had to be managed manually, so we have to come more often to the vineyard for different jobs, which cost at least 50% of the workforce.

What Are Your Main Export Markets?

Canada is first, then the UK, Japan and the US are fast becoming a major market which should be fourth by 2023.

How did you manage to keep prices moderate compared to other regional French wines?

The key point is the price of land. Since the area has been less popular in the last 40 years, the price increase is not significant, compared to other popular areas.

He has four children, but none of them have shown any interest in making wine on his estate. Do you think this will change and why?

Our children are still young and we have asked them to peak and then add personal experience in other businesses and areas to regain knowledge and an open mind. They graduated from the best universities and now work in important companies. They have already been involved in many events such as tasting, harvesting and eating, and we have asked them to return in the next 5 years.

The war in Ukraine prevented him from exporting to Russia. Was this a financial problem?

Russia was a small market for us, so it is not a big financial loss. We are very sorry for our partners who are suffering so much.

Is Languedoc ready to start making Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, and if so, why bother, instead of sticking with the traditional varieties of the region?

These two species are already developed in the western part of Languedoc, where the climate is adapted. Limox and Kabardese were grown with these varieties because they adapt well to climate and high ground plots. In these parts, the native varieties, such as Syrah and Garnacha, are less adapted.

How can you know that your wine made from predominant varieties in the Rhône Valley is different from the one made there?

It is always difficult to compare a large area like the rune with many differences. The Grenache and Syrah in AOP Languedoc have settled on higher ground, in large but well-balanced soil types between elevation, clay and stones such as shale/limestone/sandstone. Possibly the Rhône will have warmer, less windy, rockier (a bit of clay for balance) and warmer nights.


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