The United Kingdom remains a “very attractive market” for Languedoc producers

Although there have been both climatic and economic challenges, Languedoc producers are still optimistic about the 2022 vintage and the demand for their wines in the UK market.

“In 2021, we had a bit of frost, a first for us,” revealed Paul Cambon of Domaine de la Cedrillon in AOP Corbières. “With 2022, everything was fine until July when a child launched a firework in the forest and it started a fire, causing a smell of smoke.”

One of the benefits of a literally scorching summer was the relative health of the fruit. A Clos de L’Amandaie spokesperson told db: “This is a very good vintage – no disease, no mildew. The quantity is very good to correct… it will still be necessary to correct the pH a little in the cellar”. He also said smoke/fire has not been a problem for his vineyards.

Although the lack of rainfall is a concern and the region has strict rules on irrigation, some growers have fared better than others. Thibaut de Braquilanges from Château de Lastours in AOP Corbières: “We are very lucky in Lastours to have water [due to a reservoir] and to be able to water the vines within the limits of the law. Water is used to save the plant, not to produce more.

But de Braquilanges is not complacent: “It’s important to make decisions now… We have to find varieties that resist drought, we have to conserve rainwater… In the south of France, there is has lots of old people with a plot or two. and for them it will be very difficult. We are a large wine estate and we can invest in the future.

However, it is not just the drought to fight. Despite the hot summer and the suggestion that this vintage was disease-free, De Braquilanges said: “Disease is still a huge problem. For 10 years, after veraison, parasites, such as butterflies, and mildew continue to appear. In the case of butterflies, pheromones are used to sexually confuse female butterflies that would otherwise lay their eggs in grapes.

“We have to listen to nature. Organic is not easy, but our climate makes it easier for us than in Bordeaux or Burgundy,” he concluded.

Beyond nature, economic obstacles have also emerged.

“I think Brexit has impacted the British more than us,” said the spokesperson for Clos de L’Amandaie. De Braquilanges said: “The UK remains an attractive market for us. Historically you [the UK] are the first customer of French wine. Asked if the UK’s recent economic woes were cause for concern, he pointed to a previous example of flexibility: “Before, we changed the range so our distributor changed the prices.”

On the British side, the interest is also still very present. Photographer Georgia Glynn-Smith, whose images of local winemakers were on display at the tasting, said: “One of the words that kept coming up was ‘value’… Languedoc excels at making exceptional wines at a price we can all still afford”.

As the viability of international varieties is tested, it emerged last month that the European Union had blocked Languedoc producers from using Vermentino on labels for this vintage, sparking furor.

Elisha A. Tilghman