For the last two weeks we have been roaming the Rhone Valley and the Languedoc wine regions of France. We have tasted numerous wines from these two regions. We have visited wineries and degustations (tasting rooms and wine bars) and purchased many wines for our dinners that we’ve prepared in our rental homes. Ninety percent of these wines have been in the 15 Euro range or less. We have found a good range of whites, reds and Rosé wines, all of very good quality.
Some interesting information for those interested in value and bargain wine hunting from these two wine regions: Every winery we visited offered wines discounted from their retail prices. That is something you do not find here in California, Washington or Oregon wineries. In fact, it is quite the opposite, with wineries in the U.S. charging full retail price for more than you are likely to find in shops like K&L Wines.
Restaurant prices were extremely reasonable at the casual restaurants we dined at for our daily lunches. Every wine we purchased was around 15 Euros ($20) and all were very good in our estimation. I don’t believe the restaurants mark up the prices very much at all.
In a few wineries we visited, it was possible for locals to bring in their own jugs and fill them with wines priced by the liter. This is also something you do not see in any of our wineries. Why is it that no one has tried that concept in a California winery? Yes, we see California wineries that have a designated “bottle your own” day, but nothing of the sort where wine is pumped directly into whatever sized bottle or jug you can carry out.
Languedoc Wine Region
The Languedoc area has been largely undiscovered as a wine region and travel destination. Things are much less expensive in Languedoc and much less crowded, but there are plenty of attractions to enjoy. If the Languedoc region were a country, it would be the third largest in terms of acres planted with vineyards! As we travel the roads in Languedoc, it is vineyard after vineyard along the way that we see on each side of the road.
We can get plenty of Rhone wines at home at reasonable prices (under $20), but it is hard to find a good number of Languedoc wines even in good wine shops. I am not sure of the reason for this, but I do know that the region is undergoing a big change. There are many new wineries in Languedoc and many of the old ones are revamping, improving the quality of their wines.
The Languedoc wines are overall the best deal here in France. We purchased several for under $10 and they all were delicious. For example, we purchased an absolutely outstanding bottle of Chardonnay from the winery at Abbaye Fontfroide, a historic Cistercian Monastery, for 5.60 Euros!
One of the Languedoc wineries we visited, Domain O’Vineyards, has an interesting project with the Naked Wine Company in Kenwood, California. It is sending thousands of gallons of finished wine in large plastic containers. Once the wine juice arrives at Naked Wines, it is bottled and then offered to its members at a very reasonable price. You can read more about the Domain O’Vineyards on our Wine Traveler blog.
Perhaps we will soon see many more imports from the Languedoc. With new winemaking techniques, replanted vines, and a new breed of winemakers (and perhaps with a different wine business approach), we will see more Languedoc wines shipped to the U.S.