Sunny Languedoc Wines on Tour in Chicago

Known for its crisp, fruit forward, and fresh wines, the Languedoc region is one to watch


Languedoc wines are shaking up the French wine scene. This sunny region in the south of France has carved its own path in the wine world driven by a new generation of inspiring growers and winemakers. This fall, Chicago Magazine attended the Languedoc Tour, a très chic wine tasting and seminar in the Leavittown Lofts building. The industrial vibe and sweeping downtown views were the perfect backdrop for a spectacular range of wines presented by a delightful group of visiting producers.

Vineyards in the scenic Pic Saint-Loup appellation of Languedoc. Photograph: Florian Vidot


As far back as the first century BC, Languedoc was known to the Romans for its beautiful wines and olive groves. The southwestern French region of Languedoc is now home to more than 90,000 acres of vines and some 22,000 winemakers and négociants. What’s new is the fresh and modern character of the wines, available in red, white, rosé and sparkling styles with surprising verve and variety. Alongside a tasting of the region’s latest releases, Advanced Sommelier Erik Segelbaum led a seminar which laid out some of the factors driving Languedoc’s dynamic character: high quality, affordable wines with depth and range; a regional commitment to sustainability; and experimental winemakers focused on innovation. The U.S. is Languedoc’s top export market, Segelbaum explained, with extraordinary growth of 250% in recent years to underscore demand for the wines.

Map of the Appellations of Languedoc Provided by the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc (C.I.V.L.)


With 26 native grape varieties and more than 300 days of annual sunshine on its side, Languedoc enjoys many natural advantages to shape decidedly modern wines that still honor the past. In sweeping terms, the red wines are bold, fresh and pleasantly tannic; the white wines are lively and well-balanced; and the sparkling and rosé wines are bright and appealing. With over 20 appellations in the region, there are many nuances that invite discovery. As Segelbaum explains, Languedoc’s three distinct subzones stretch from Montpellier to the Spanish border — encompassing coastal, hills, and Atlantic climates to support a range of growing conditions. In short: local winemakers have an enviable palate of soils, elevation and domaines to work with.

“Languedoc wines can compete with virtually all categories from sparkling to sweet — and everything in between. The whites show intensity and balance; the reds show freshness and terroir; and, best of all, the value proposition across all categories is unmatched,” shares Segelbaum. Red wines play a decisive role in the region, with 60 percent of annual production dedicated to varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan. Languedoc’s distinct terroir zones add real personality to the wines. For example, red wines produced in the hills and mountains can express lots of minerality, high tannins and bold fruit flavors. And in the coastal terroir zone, red varieties like Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault are balanced and achieve full ripeness because of their proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the abundance of sunshine.

Beyond the reds, white wines from Languedoc offer amazing range, from mineral and dry AOP Picpoul de Pinet — known for its bright, high acidity and notes of green apple and citrus — to full-bodied, lush Chardonnay from AOP Limoux with notes of yellow fruit and elegant florals. Here again a wide variety of grapes can be used, like the heirloom Piquepoul or Rolle varieties, to make beautiful single varietals as well as complex yet balanced blends. 

For rosé lovers, Languedoc offers a delicious range from Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Carignan that give Provence a run for its money. Local rosé from the benchmark AOP Languedoc appellation are so popular that they now outpace reds.

The historic Roman bridge of Sommières straddles the River Vidourle. Photograph: Florian Vidot


One style that stood out at the Languedoc Tour was the sparkling Crémant de Limoux. Prepare to be amazed — while it may be widely believed that Champagne is the birthplace of French sparkling wine, it was actually the Languedoc region that invented it. In 1531, Blanquette de Limoux became the first sparkling wine in the world, made by monks at Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Hilaire. Their early attempts evoked the effervescent brioche and green apple flavors that we know of some French sparkling wines today, but in more of a pet-nat style they referred to as “méthode ancestrale.” 

Languedoc sparkling wines are produced from grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and the native grape Mauzac from the AOP Crémant de Limoux. Selections like Domaine J. Laurens La Rose No 7 and Sieur D’Arques Toques & Clochers are lovely expressions of the Atlantic zone that can produce very bright and vibrant sparkling wines.


Languedoc is the most organic wine region in France, led by a dynamic generation of winemakers who are fusing innovation and tradition. This region is not only dedicated to stewarding their vineyards with the latest technology or the highest certifications; they’re also focused on how to best take care of those who take care of the land and their terroir. Yes, there’s a significant focus on biodiversity and sustainability — but there’s also a huge importance placed on how vignerons treat their community and the employees who work the land.


Chicago somms have embraced Languedoc wines as a region to watch, so be on the look-out on local wine lists and at your favorite shop. Here are some first selections from the Languedoc Tour in Chicago — and to taste like the pros view the complete list

  • 2017 Domaine La Cendrillon Red (AOP Corbières) 
  • 2022 Blanville Rosé (AOP Languedoc)
  • 2021 Domaine de Cambis Rock de Carignane Red (AOP Saint-Chinian Berlou) 
  • 2022 Sieur D’Arques Toques & Clochers Terroir Haute Valleé White (AOP Limoux)
  • Sieur D’Arques Grand Cuvée 1531 Sparkling (AOP Crémant de Limoux) 
  • 2021 Château Grezan Collection Red (AOP Faugères) 
  • 2022 Domaine Felines Jourdan Classique Picpoul White (AOP Picpoul de Pinet)

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View Photos from Languedoc’s recent wine tour in Chicago:

Photography: Jorge Gera

This article has been supplied by Languedoc Wines, a paid advertiser. The editorial staff of Chicago magazine had no role in this post’s preparation.