The Struggle of the Languedoc

by Chris Santini

Hard to imagine but true, Gaddafi once sent a team of Libyan messengers deep in the hills of the Languedoc to meet with a group of angry and exasperated vignerons. The year was 1973, and a century of boiling tensions between these growers and the omnipotent local négociants had culminated in gunfights with local police. The négociants had amassed fortunes by importing boat tankers full of Algerian wine, mixing it with local wine and unsavory additives, calling it “Languedoc,” and then sending it up by rail to Paris to supply the working masses with their daily four liters of liquid strength. Gaddafi’s offer to these growers was unlimited armament and training camps in the desert in exchange for the group declaring war on the French government and launching a revolution. The growers promptly declined and sent the Libyans home. This wasn’t about revolution; it was about reclaiming the wines of the Languedoc. Still to this day, the battle rages on: a shadowy group called CRAV, armed with axes and hunting rifles, regularly sabotages oil-refinery-sized tanks of manipulated “wine.” They fight for the Languedoc that was once synonymous for stony terroir, garrigue-infused air, and a distinct Mediterranean soul. True Languedoc is a wonderful thing, yet the name is still a broad cover for far too many cheap, industrial, and at times fraudulent wines of international ilk that continue to harm its reputation and make it difficult for honest growers to make an honest living. We can do our part by drinking our share of real Languedoc.

Pic Saint Loup

Pic Saint Loup

A good place to start is the Lascaux Languedoc rouge, fresh and full, an incredible value of pure, approachable limestone-grown organic juice. Then tackle the La Roque Pic Saint Loup rouge, an herbal, spicy, biodynamic wine that is a rare southern French wine to show minerality before fruit. And finally, save the Mas Champart terroir-driven Causse du Bousquet for a special meal. It’s a deep, juicy, long-aging wine from the pioneers of Saint-Chinian. As angry protesters once shouted in the streets of Montpellier back in 1907, “Vive le vin naturel! Mort aux fraudeurs!”


2012 Languedoc Rouge • Château de Lascaux >

2012 Pic Saint Loup Rouge • Château La Roque >

2012 Saint-Chinian Rouge “Causse du Bousquet” • Mas Champart >

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