Paul Strang’s Languedoc-Roussillon, The Wines and Winemakers

Paul Strang has a strong attachment to the kingdom of the Oc. His book on the growers of South West France is still the reference (his wife, Jeanne Strang wrote the equally compelling Goose Fat and Garlic which did the same job for the gastronomy of the region). The recently published Languedoc-Roussillon – The Wines and Winemakers - is a revised and considerably updated version of a book that came out in 2002 and examines a wine region that stretches from the Spanish border, where the Pyrenees meet the azure blue Med, to the southern reaches of the Rhone and incorporates a host of familiar (and not so familiar) appellations and sub-regions.

It is a fascinating region and has come a long way since it was synonymous with bulk production (the plonky vins de midi) for supermarket production. Whilst those wines are still made (although the quality has immeasurably improved) many growers have split from the co-ops to pursue their own path. There is a recognition of the value and identity of terroir, embryonic cru classification has begun in certain appellations, and undoubtedly world class wines are being produced throughout the greater region. This “geological scrapyard” is a place of old vines and young projects, where local families rub shoulders with enterprising outsiders who are attracted by the potential of making wine in such a climate.

The book itself is divided by regions and profiles the principal growers in each. There is a good introduction which gives an historical and economic overview, discusses terroir and highlights the main grape varieties. There is also a key to highlight organic and biodynamic growers and give indications of the prices of different cuvees. Finally, Paul gives ratings from * to **** where four stars denotes a domaine making world class wines.

This is a comprehensive guide to the biggest vineyard in the world (as the Languedoc-Roussillon is sometimes called). Paul is an urbane and lucid companion, who evidently loves the region and the people  - and, of course, the wines themselves.

Interested in wines from Languedoc-Roussillon? Check out our wine list.