6 Reasons Why Georges Freche Loves Love That Languedoc

Carcassonne and the surrounding area are very popular travel destinations because of the charm, character and history of the region.  Rather than staying at a cookie-cutter hotel when you visit Carcassonne, consider taking advantage of some of the incredibly unique accommodations available in the area.

Obviously if you’re looking for holiday accommodation on a vineyard, I highly recommend visiting me at O’Vineyards!  But vineyards aren’t the only cool place to stay while you’re in Carcassonne.

You can spend a night floating down the Canal du Midi.  Or sleep inside a medieval castleGypsy caravansVintage Airstream trailers?  If you want to go further afield in the Languedoc Roussillon, you can find…  Country yurtsTreehousesGlam Camping?

With all of these options, you don’t have to have to stick to traditional lodging accommodations.

Here’s a list of just a few unusual options available around Carcassonne.

Vineyard
O’Vineyards B&B Carcassonne
885 Ave de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou
33 (0)4 68 10 89 18
ryan@ovineyards.com

In the Castle
L’echappee Belle

5 Rue Raymond Roger Trencavel
La Cite 11000 Carcassonne
33 (0)4 68 25 33 40
info@lechappeebelle.co.uk

On the Canal du Midi
Péniche Mirage
28 rue du Canal
Ecluse d’Herminis
11090 CARCASSONNE
33 (0)6 16 46 28 67
info@mirage-hotes.fr

Gypsy Caravan
Les Roulottes Du Lauragais
1, rue de la République
11320 MONTMAUR
33 (0)4 68 60 56 64
lesroulottesdulauragais@orange.fr

It feels like there are suddenly a ton of wine merchants that specialize in the Languedoc-Roussillon.  Obviously I’m pretty happy about that, so I’ve made a list of these wine vendors who are focused on the south of France.

I’ve previously mentioned a few of these Languedoc Roussillon wine merchants on Love That Languedoc.  But new ones seem to emerge all the time, and there are also a couple I overlooked in the first rundown.

Interestingly, almost all of them blog.

Thoughts on specialization

I think the Languedoc Roussillon is ready for this sort of specialization.  At least the suppliers are.  We have sooo many high end, small production wines that need this sort of merchant with a strong regional focus to find the best wines at the greatest value.  And the wine-buying public is learning more and more about our region every day.  So eventually, these sites might have the same opportunities as sites that specialize in smaller regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy.

I do wonder if the businesses need to distinguish themselves a little bit more.  Being regional specialists might not be a unique selling proposition, as evidenced by the emergence of sooo many competitors in such a short time.  Maybe this is why so many of them blog.  To give them a personality that separates them from the competition.  Or to get better search engine referencing.  But at the point where they all blog, is that really setting them apart?  Or is it just keeping up with the Jones’s?  And is it effective at all with sorely out of date blogs like Terroir Languedoc’s (last updated in 2009!! Gemma!! Take that off your front page navigation ;D )

Perhaps Midi Vin is doing it right since they’re not JUST blogging.  They’re actively participating in the online and offline wine community.  I see Sylvain and his colleagues at wine fairs and conferences and producers all the time (not to mention they’re sponsoring VinoCamp Languedoc).

I guess a lot of these merchants expect their portfolio to set them apart too.  They can try to be the person who unearths the best quality and hardest to find wines at the lowest prices.  But this is tough.  The only way to judge who is best is for an extremely devoted customer to shop at all six places.  And the chances are that each of these merchants has a couple coups de coeur tucked into their portfolios.

And a last observation, why don’t any of them carry my wine?  I don’t want to pat myself too much on the back, but it seems like it might be a decent idea to contact all the active Languedoc Roussillon winemaker blogs.

But anyway, I’m pleased at their combined enthusiasm.  I hope it works wonderfully for all of them.  And I encourage these regional pioneers to keep on working the local angle.  And innovate new ways to bring our wines to light.

Influence on other businesses

I think it’s safe to say that these businesses are influencing other merchants to adopt more regional focus in their portfolios.  Even our own UK importer, Naked Wines, might be influenced by the practices of these more specialized merchants.  When the site launched, they had hardly any Languedoc.  Now, they now carry a whole range of Languedoc wines and their customer base is becoming more and more familiar with the area.  Which in turn generates interest in finding new wines from the area and drinking even more Languedoc.  Good stuff!

A month ago, Robert Parket sent an email out to his subscribers letting us know about some significant changes in who tastes the wine for several regions.  I’d like to share my thoughts and an email from David Schildknecht to help people understand more about this change (and how it might affect my region).

The change that has caught the most press is that Parker is giving up California which he used to taste personally.  California wines will now be tasted by Antonio Galloni.  This gets a lot of attention because Parker’s tastes have really shaped the direction of California wines and Galloni does not have identical tastes.  In the range of 90-100, personal tastes can play a large role in the difference between a 99 and a 100 or a 93 and a 95.

But being a Languedoc-centric wine lover, I’m interested in another aspect of Robert Parker’s email.   “Two new areas of responsibility for Antonio will include the red and white Burgundies of the Côte d’Or”  Aha!  Cote d’Or and Chablis, which used to be reviewed by David Schildknecht, will now be tasted by Galloni.  This is interesting to Languedoc-Roussillon wine producers since Schildknecht is the man responsible for Languedoc and Roussillon wines.  Schildknecht is super busy as he also tastes Germany, Austria, New York, Beaujolais, Loire, and the rest of Eastern Europe.

With the vast weight of Chablis and Cote d’Or shifting toward Galloni, Parker suggests that “sectors that merit dramatically more attention but have not had sufficient coverage, including Beaujolais and the Mâconnais (now economically as important as the Cote d’Or and Chablis) will be put under a microscope by David Schildknecht.”  Intriguing.

So I asked David if he thinks that the Languedoc will benefit get increased attention from this shift.  The short answer is “eh…”   Actually David says, “In short, collectively there is a lot to be done. And this will involve writing about emerging regions including many that render some of the world’s greatest wines and or best vinous values yet get little journalistic attention.”

I’ve included David’s email below so you can see the full eloquent response.  But in short, the Languedoc already receives a full bulletin every two years and an under $20 article every other year while some regions remain drastically undercovered or virtually ignored.  While one article per year for the world’s largest wine producing region seems like too little for a Languedoc fanatic like me, I have to admit that the situation is even worse for other regions.

Regions Schildknecht will try to cover more

David mentions several regions where he plans on expanding his coverage including, “the Mâcon, the Southwest [of France], Corsica, Jura, and Savoie. And indeed, the Costières de Nîmes and Provence are also deserving of focused attention that they have not received in the context of my reports on the Languedoc or Bob’s on the Rhône, although that future focus might come from Bob or might come from me – this remains to be seen.”

David also mentions German regions outside of the Riesling Belt like “the Ahr and Baden as well as Württemberg and Franken”… lots of regions he wants to give more time to.  Places that deserve the attention too.   And he talks a bit about the Americas.  “And then there are my many deserving countrymen and Canadian neighbors in the eastern three-quarters of North America, who with the exception of those in New York State have gone unmentioned in The Wine Advocate.”  I suppose there are a lot of winemakers that fit into this.  Virginia pops into mind.  Lots of producers.  Not as much as the L-R, but a lot.

Also, David reminds me that the deadline for the next Languedoc article is fast approaching.  While I can hope that he will have slightly more time for us in the future, it’s unrealistic to think that the change can affect the upcoming article.

David Schildknecht’s email

Besides my continued inability to adequately (including in a timely manner) cover the wines of so many regions of the world, there were other valid internal reasons for the change in Burgundy coverage, which should free me to do a better job in covering the rest of the wine world that is my remaining “beat.” Yes, this will mean more time can be devoted to certain regions that I am already covering. But before either of us jumps to conclusions about how this will effect coverage of the Languedoc or Roussillon, please bear in mind the following factors:

1) My first priority is to be able to publish reports more rapidly. And it will take most of 2011 to get caught up to where I need to for my readers’ sake be in regard to those regions about which I have been publishing ongoing reports.

2) Since time has already been alloted for visiting in and tasting wines of the Languedoc & Roussillon, I’ll be publishing in the June issue the report on these regions essentially as I already planned. I cannot do more tasting or travel for this report than was already planned because of other commitments I have for later in the year. (I’ll start planning the precise days for my trip at the end of this month. Sooner is impractical as too much can change for the growers to ask them two months or more in advance on which days they will not be available to receive me.)

3) Relative to the vastness of the region (one it’s really a stretch to refer to it as “a region”), the Loire has come up even shorter in my coverage than has the Languedoc or Roussillon, and I have only tasted – as I wrote to you before – a minority of the wines in situ but have relied on samples for a higher percentage of my tasting than is the case in my coverage of most other regions. So I shall be looking to do a significantly broader as well as deeper report on the Loire during 2012 than I would otherwise have been able.

4) There are a great many worthy regions about which I have been completely unable to write in recent years and shall now get to.

These include, in France, the Mâcon, the Southwest, Corsica, Jura, and Savoie. And indeed, the Costières de Nîmes and Provence are also deserving of focused attention that they have not received in the context of my reports on the Languedoc or Bob’s on the Rhône, although that future focus might come from Bob or might come from me – this remains to be seen.

I have not had chance to write about any wines of Germany outside of the Riesling belt; and even though these are wines with relatively little international availability thus far, there is a lot of recent excitement in places like the Ahr and Baden (especially with Pinot) as well as Württemberg and Franken.

And speaking of great wines but wines with sadly little international distribution, consider Switzerland! I have been wanting to return to Hungary and Slovenia for some years now, and to writing about their wines. And then there are my many deserving countrymen and Canadian neighbors in the eastern three-quarters of North America, who with the exception of those in New York State have gone unmentioned in The Wine Advocate.

In short, collectively there is a lot to be done. And this will involve writing about emerging regions including many that render some of the world’s greatest wines and or best vinous values yet get little journalistic attention.

screenshot of vine bloom postMy friends at Domaine Revelh (Wake Up!) in the Roussillon made a beautiful post about vine buds and flowers. The text is in French so it might be tough for some of you, but the photos need no words.  A truly beautiful post!!

To achieve this, they brought some cuttings back from the field in the late winter and put the cuttings in a glass of water.  The plant continued to bloom as if it was still connected to its roots as long as they kept it in fresh water and shined some light on it.  Gorgeous photo display.  Great idea. Please show all your vine-loving friends.

I’m very excited about my upcoming trip to Catalunya and the Alimentaria conference in Barcelona.  The Catalan govnernment and Catavino have teamed up to organize a really exciting trip around an already exciting conference.

And a few people are casting a curious eye at Love That Languedoc because my readers are very perceptive and they realize that Catalunya is distinctly not in the Languedoc Roussillon.  But the Roussillon and Catalunya share a lot in common.  For example, certain communities in the Roussillon consider me to be more of a gabatch (outsider) than their neighbors to the south.

And I want to take a moment to remind everybody that wine’s not a zero sum game.  I love that Languedoc.  But there’s a little secret: I love other places too sometimes.

And when we have the opportunity to travel to new places and experience new things, we also have an opportunity to exchange cultures.  And I am all about that.  A little mixing and matching to make something altogether new.  And I can try some new wines while I’m down there.   And you better believe I’m bringing some of my wine for others to taste.  And by the end of the week, we’ll all be fans of things we didn’t know much about before.

photo by CarbonNYC via Flickr

It’s important not to think of wine marketing as a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.  Where there are only 20 marbles on the playing field and getting one more marble is the same as taking it out of your starving starving opponent’s mouth.  There are tons of people who have little to no knowledge of our regions and blogging or otherwise communicating about our cultural exchange can pique a stranger’s interest!  Somebody who loves Catalan wines and knows nothing about Languedoc might discover me next week.  Or the reverse!?

In case you’re curious, I prefer to think of life as a game of Crossfire.  Every shot you take at your “opponent” only gives them more ammunition to shoot right back at you.  It is only when we realize that the game is not nearly as cool as the commercial and that we abandon the notion of competition entirely that we have truly won.  Or if you shoot the little pucks into your opponent’s tray.  One of those two things is the win scenario.

I took clips from George Frêche’s speech at ViniSud to explain why he should adore my website.  The video’s in French, so I wrote up the whole thing in English for you!

Six reasons Georges Frêche loves Love That Languedoc.

  1. “You don’t need seniority to be good. You just need to be smart”I get a lot of crap because I’m only 24, I’ve only been a winemaker 5 years, and the website isn’t even 4 months old. Yet I want to come in and change everything like some inexperiencd upstart.  Well, Georges knows that you don’t need seniority!  Heck, there are NO fourteenth generation web designers.  Also, I think a large part of our success on Love That Languedoc can be contributed to our cooperation with individuals and groups that DO bring some wisdom and seniority to the table.
  2. “Take what works and throw out what doesn’t work.”I know, right!  This sort of try everything and keep what works is founded in an empiricism that I can really get into.  I didn’t know how Love That Languedoc would play out (and I still don’t! It could go a lot of different directions!)  But I knew that I couldn’t wade through the administrative back channels, building a project through conventional means.  I just launched. And it worked.  So… he’s gotta keep me now, right? :D
  3. “It’s our fault if we’re in a crisis.  We are the masters of our fate.”Georges comes down on winemakers a little hard on this point.  But let’s say that I agree that collectively, we are responsible for the crisis.  It’s not you or me or that guy… but all of us.  And I also agree that we are masters of our fate.  The entire wine industry (not just Languedoc-Roussillon or France) leaves its fate in the hands of journalists and critics.  A few exceptions exist.  Most of the exceptions are massive corporations that have found ways to leverage their size into selling power.  Very few winemaking regions have a public image that they control.  Or our idea of control is to send press releases all the time.  But today, it’s our responsibility to cultivate an audience and give our message to them directly!  (e.g. Love That Languedoc)
  4. “Manifestations turn the majority of people against our message by annoying them.”This just reminds me of my wine-alerts project.  We have to get our winemakers to take our infamous street-blocking manifestations to the web.  In the real world, only the French see our manifs and it just annoys most of them.  We alienate.   On the web, we can manifest with a positive message with our clients overseas.  That is so much better than alienating/annoying your neighbors and tourists.
  5. “Today, we need to be on the GLOBAL market.”If you want to talk global, you have to talk web.  It’s just stupid simple.  If you have the budget to put billboards and print ads and Maisons du Languedoc everywhere, that’s great.  You should totally continue doing that.  However you should ALSO do the web thing which costs like pennies by comparison.  And if you have no budget but you have fifteen minutes per week, it’s time to start going online.  There are people around the world who will listen to you.  And that’s Love That Languedoc.  I want to bring wine from the region to monitors around the world. And it’s working. So… you gotta love me, right?
  6. “Politics bedamned, we need smart people.”I bet you thought I was going to say I’m super smart.  But that is not my point.  Freche says he needs smart PEOPLE, not just one smart person.  Love That Languedoc is succeeding because it brings together tons of smart people.  There are smart people in this region and they have opened their doors to this new project because they see the potential power of communicating our message to the world!  If I have convinced you that Georges Freche loves Love That Languedoc, or if I’ve convinced YOU to Love That Languedoc, please please please visit the website and talk about it to all the smart people you know.  Link that thing up.

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards is just a few kilometres north of Carcassonne. GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Domaine O’Vineyards
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou until the D118 (the last straight road) and the Dyneff gas station on the roundabout.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which goes up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire.
  4. At the last juction, bear left at the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.