Discovering Liberty of Style: The Wines of Pays d’Oc IGP.
When it comes to wine, the Pays d’Oc IGP is a true hidden gem in the South of France. This protected geographical indication, often represented as IGP, offers an exceptional variety of wines that are as diverse as the region itself. The “Liberty of Style” concept of the Pays d’Oc is all about showcasing the origin, diversity, and special features of these wines.
We had the privilege of exploring this region and its wines during a recent 4-day trip and are happy to share our findings with you, while telling you more about the beauty of this region.
The Start of a Discovery
Our journey started at Montpellier airport, where we were met by our host and were taken to our accommodation in the centre of Montpellier. Where we gathered at the charming Richer de Belleval, a beautiful hotel in Montpellier, where we were indulged with a delightful dinner of French Cuisine paired with a wide range of Pays d’Oc IGP wines.
The next day was whirlwind of activities, from wine tastings to vineyard tours. Our first stop was in Lattes, where we received a captivating presentation about Pays d’Oc IGP. We learned about the geographical nuances that make this region unique and discovered the characteristics that define its exceptional wines. We also learnt about the rigorous standards of testing that each wine goes through in the region and visited the largest tasting room in world where these wines go through their strict standards test.
The Liberty of Style
In Pays d’Oc, a staggering 58 different grape varieties are permitted, which means an extensive selection of wines are available, most being made from single grape variety. This diversity ensures that there’s a perfect wine for every taste, occasion, or dish.
The beauty of Pays d’Oc IGP wines is that the grape variety is typically displayed prominently on the label, making it easy for consumers to understand what they’re drinking. This transparency allows wine enthusiasts to choose wines that easily to their preference and pair with meals of their creation.
The “Liberty of Style” concept extends to the freedom granted to the grape grower of Pays d’Oc IGP. These grape growers have the remarkable opportunity to craft their own unique wines from any of the 58 approved grape varieties. Such creative liberty is very rare in the world of French winemaking, as many other regions have strict regulations regarding which grapes can be used within there designated origin.
It is important to note that Pays d’Oc IGP is not a traditional wine region but a designation of origin, specifically, a protected geographical indication (Indication Geographies Protégée, or IGP). This certification guarantees that the products from this European label are 100% from a specific place or vineyard, emphasizing the region’s dedication to quality and authenticity.
Continuing our Discovery of the Pays d’Oc
Next on our trip was Domaine Les Yeuses in Mèze, a family-owned winery that has been crafting exquisite wines for generations. Here, we experienced a memorable wine tasting that transported us to the heart of the Pays d’Oc IGP. The standout wines here were their Grenache and the Chardonnay-Viognier blend.
Our journey continued with a visit to Cave de Richemer in Marseillan, a modern winery nestled near the Mediterranean coast the production was viewed in the winery, followed by a tasting. We then enjoyed their wines for lunch at the Pool House, with fresh seafood.
The day concluded at the charming Château de Mus in Thézan-les-Béziers, where we immersed ourselves with their family generational wines, surrounded by the beauty of the French countryside. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner paired with their wines; the winner for us it was their own Syrah.
The Terroir of the Pays d’Oc IGP
Pays d’Oc unique appeal extends beyond its large variety of grape varieties and the creative freedom it allows for their winegrowers. Thanks to the region’s diversity in soils, climates, and topography, there’s a broad range of aromas and flavors which are unique to the Pays do’s region.
The vineyards of Pays d’Oc IGP stretch for 200 kms along the Mediterranean coastline, extending from the Pyrenees to the Camargue. The region is also the third sunniest in France and has the influence of four regional winds, to provide the perfect conditions for cultivating healthy vines. These climatic factors, paired with the region’s maritime plains, lowlands, rolling hills, and high-altitude vineyards – allow producers to craft an extensive range of wines with diverse profiles.
From Escapes to Creating your own Blend
Our day started with a fun and challenging escape room game at Famille Fabre in Luc sur Orbieu, providing a fun and interactive experience whilst learning about the heritage and history of Pays d’Oc region and their family history of vignerons. We finished the escape room with a fantastic tasting their exquisite wines.
After the escape game, we indulged in a delightful lunch and wine tasting at Domaine Calmel & Joseph, known for its elegant and refined wines; there were many favourites at this winery but most notable for us were their Viognier and Picoult Noir.
In the evening, we gathered for a unique blending workshop and dinner at Domaine Gayda in Brugairolles, where we had to try and recrate their red blend. We shared their wines with over a delicious steak dinner.
Standards of IGP Pays d’Oc
The producers of IGP Pays d’Oc make sure that their wines meet strict standards by rigorous monitoring and to specific guidelines in order to maintain the quality that is associated with IGP Pays d’Oc wines.
One of the key ways in which producers demonstrate their dedication to quality is through their choice to designate a significant portion of their harvest to the IGP Pays d’Oc label. In fact, each year, these producers allocate a 50% of their harvest to ensure the high standards that come with the label are met.
Next to the quality control process of IGP Pays do’s wines is the Union of Producers. This union plays a pivotal role in implementing large-scale quality control measures that operate year-round. Here’s a glimpse into their rigorous quality control process:
The union oversees an extensive quality control program that includes tasting and evaluating 18,000 wines. This enormous task is undertaken by a panel of 350 motivated tasters who are committed to upholding the IGP Pays do’s standards. Every week, up to 900 tanks are sampled and tasted, and these tastings are run by three tasting commissions. This means that up to 180 tasters are actively involved in evaluating the wines on a weekly basis. A team of technicians are responsible for collecting samples, with two samples taken for each specific wine. These samples are then prepared in an unlabelled tasting bottle to ensure a blind tasting process.
To ensure transparency and accountability the IGP Pays d’Oc undergoes annual audits conducted by the ‘Bureau Veritas Certification’ which is a qualified independent control organization. These audits have nine control points, where everything from the qualification of the tasting commission to the overall summary are audited for standards.
Goodbye, not Farewell!
Our final day was spent with a morning tasting and brunch at Comptoir de la Cité, Les Vignobles Foncalieu in Carcassonne. Here we learnt about the trade of their wines and experienced a fantastic tasting and brunch, overlooking the Carcassonne Castle.
Pays d’Oc IGP, wine lover’s Dream
France’s Pays d’Oc might not have the name of Burgundy, Champagne of Bordeaux but this region sure has its own quality and unique character. We dare to say that there is a great Pays d’Oc wine for everybody in this diverse region with its multifaceted character.
Some key aspects concerning this beautiful part of France for you to take into consideration when picking your next wine:
- 58 grape varieties, catering to every palate and occasion.
- An abundance of single-varietal wines, making it easy to identify and select your preferred grape.
- Creative freedom for the winegrowers, resulting in unique and distinctive wines.
- An assurance of authenticity and quality, thanks to the IGP designation.
- A diverse terroir, with influences from the Mediterranean, a wealth of sunshine, and unique soil and climate conditions.
- It is the first French organic wine producing region.
- Pays d’Oc IGP is the leading French rosé producing region.
- Pays d’Oc IGP rigorously blind-tastes 100% of its wines before granting them the coveted Pays do’s IGP label.
Under the “Liberty of Style” the freedom and creativity for choice is exceptional also the commitment to quality with their quality control measures; further ensuring authenticity and excellence. After four days of exploring vineyards, indulging in delicious meals, and immersing ourselves in the culture of Languedoc-Roussillon, this experience allowed us to embrace the essence of the Pays d’Oc IGP wine region.
We fell in love with the region! To sum it up, Pays d’Oc IGP wines are a true embodiment of excellence and innovation in the world of wine, making it a hidden gem worth discovering and defiantly trying.