The Languedoc is my adoptive French home. I see it as Provence without the tourists, without too many incomers like me pushing up prices and without, regrettably, the ubiquitous smell of lavender, thyme and pines. It is, however, archetypal Mediterranean wine country, with wild landscapes, Spain just over the Pyrenees, and vines stretching in every direction. Those which stretch on the flattest land, notably the vast, arid plains between Narbonne and Montpellier, are chiefly responsible for France’s still significant production of basic light red Vin de France (once the ubiquitous Vin de Table) and therefore for much of the European wine lake.
The world’s biggest wine region, a swathe of monoculture round France’s western Mediterranean coast, is also, at long last, important in the international wine market – not to say vital for the economic future of European wine production.