The Languedoc Outsiders, a valiant team of men and women from all walks of life who have taken up the mantle of winemaking, work together to defend common values like truth, justice and the American way delicious wine, good company, and the French way!
This issue promises to reveal the secret origins of Ryan.Com, the geeky kid turned winemaking prodigy. As well as his parents Joe Builder and the Liztener, a couple of dedicated builders who were hit with a super dose of the radioactive element Wine-onium.
And many many more!
You should really come and taste the wines of the Languedoc Outsiders. I think it’s a great group with a very different range of wines. This is not the kind of group tasting where everybody has the same attitude or rhetoric. I vehemently disagree with lots of the group members about lots of different issues of import. And that’s what makes it amazing. We’re all clearly passionate about winemaking or we wouldn’t have abandoned our old lives. But our passion has taken on eleven totally different forms and given way to dozens of really special wines.
Come decide for yourself. January 24th from 18h00 to 21h00 @ Chez Boris which is in the pedestrian centreville of Montpellier.
RSVP on Facebook and join the Outsiders bandwagon.
PS – writing in the comic book tone really makes me want to work on my comic book about the winemaker who can smell the future. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME IN THE DAY.
NO VISIT TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE would be complete without a trip to the Languedoc-Roussillon region, where you’ll find a combination of hilltop vineyards, Mediterranean beaches, and a panoply of France’s most beautiful medieval villages.
–Ryan O’Connell, Tampa Bay Magazine NOV/DEC 2010 p. 141
Add one more thing to the list of jobs winemakers do when they’re not making wine. I’m now a published travel writer too!
Tampa Bay Magazine has posted a couple of stories about the Languedoc-Roussillon region and one of them was written by me. Although they did edit a bit, insisting on some flattering photo captions and more info about O’Vineyards (and employing an alternate spelling of cassoulet). But the point is that it’s awesome for the region to get its name out there in a positive light, and I can’t wait to write more articles like this. I hope lots of people come across it while planning their next trip.
Read the full articles in PDF format: (warning: big files!)
If there are particular magazines that you think I should submit to, please let me know! They can be lifestyle, airline, travel, food, or whatever! The Languedoc Roussillon is so vast, there’s almost always an excuse to write about it.
Here’s the full text of my wine article if you’re having trouble downloading/opening the PDFs.
WINES OF THE LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON REGION
The Gateway to the Mediterranean
By Ryan O’Connell
Photography by Noraa
NO VISIT TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
would be complete without a trip to the
Languedoc-Roussillon region, where you’ll find
a combination of hilltop vineyards, Mediterranean
beaches, and a panoply of France’s most beautiful
medieval villages. The region derives its richness
directly from this great geographical, cultural and
historic diversity. At first glance, this great expanse
of land (over 10,500 square miles) may seem a little
disconnected, as it incorporates the Catalan villages
of the Pyrenees Orientales, the medieval castles of
the Pays Cathare, the rocky foothills of the Massif
Central, and the Roman amphitheaters to the west
of the Rhone River. However, it is this immense
diversity which nurtured the creativity and bravery
of troubadours, monks and knights from once
upon a time in the same way that it fosters daring
winemakers, chefs and travelers today. While Paris
might be the most notable part of France, this softspoken
region to the south has quietly provided
some of France’s richest cultural heritage for over
It is difficult to pick a city that best represents
this area. But if you need a landmark that typifies
the region’s colorful, storied past, as well as its great
present developments, I would choose the medieval
walled city of Carcassonne. This remarkably preserved
castle town exemplifies the Languedoc’s respect for
its past and cultural heritage. Nearly four million
people a year explore the meandering cobbled
roads, within its epic stone walls, that span nearly
Liz, Ryan and Joe O’Connell are at
home at their O’Vineyards Winery in
the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.
It’s no wonder that every child in France
learns about these ramparts in grade
school, as each and every stone is filled
with character. In the summertime, in a
unique tribute to the past, musicians from
every continent and genre play to a small
audience in the amphitheater behind the
cathedral. This year, Bob Dylan, Charlotte
Gainsbourg, Motorhead, a full rendition
of Carmen and other musical legends
performed there. And, although each of
these musicians is quite different, they all
agreed to return to this place where the
troubadour singers once ruled and their
songs of courtly love were born.
The modern musicians are all seduced
by the stage in Carcassonne, due in part
to the massive preservation efforts that
date back to the 1860s to make the castle
and its surroundings one of the world’s
best-preserved examples of medieval
architecture and defenses. As you look
through the narrow slits of its zig-zagging
ramparts and gaze out across the terra
cotta rooftops of the homes that surround
the castle, the immense weight of history
is palpable to all.
However, the castle is not just a reminder
of the past. It is also a place filled with
countless quiet moments, where you
can enjoy the present, as cool winds flow
through charming patios and gardens.
The Hotel de la Cité, a five star hotel in the
heart of the castle, was a former abbey and
is managed with a charm and eccentricity
appropriate to the site. You can savor lunch
or dinner at one of its restaurants, Chez
Saskia, a narrow brasserie that protrudes
into an intersection of cobbled streets. The
building feels as if it had grown there
as an offshoot of the abbey, when the
castle population expanded in the early
part of the last millennium. The meals
there showcase the huge variety of fresh
ingredients available in the region. On the
patio behind the hotel, you can enjoy
Blanquette de Limoux, a sparkling wine
from the region that historians believe
to be older than the more well-known
champagne. This gives the region a claim
to the invention of sparkling white wines,
preceding Dom Perignon, the monk who
made a splash in the Champagne region
with his eponymous fizz. It is probably
no coincidence that Dom Perignon was
stationed in a cloister in the Languedoc
before he moved to the monastery in the
Champagne region of France. Records
show that a few bottles of white wine in the
cellar had a surprising amount of bubbles
in them in 1531, when this discovery led the
monks of Limoux to perfect the process
of making their centuries-old sparkling
While certain microclimates like Limoux
are perfect for growing the white grapes
that go into Blanquette de Limoux, the
Languedoc-Roussillon region is best known
for its rich red wines, such as the ones
produced at O’Vineyards, an estate near
Carcassonne in the foothills of la Montagne
Noire, which my parents, Liz and Joe, own
and operate with me. Due to the vineyard’s
unique position in the region’s Atlantic
Corridor, we have been able to create bold,
fresh wines with varietals like Merlot
and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are
traditionally found in wine regions with
cooler climates, such as Bordeaux.
The vineyards in the Languedoc-
Roussillon region enjoy winds from the
Mediterranean to the east and cool
breezes from the Atlantic to the west.
The tasting room at O’Vineyards
has a relaxed, hospitable feeling
that allows guests to linger and
savor the winery’s offerings.
From the tasting room at O’Vineyards,
you will want to travel west along the
Canal du Midi, a 17th Century canal, that
allowed French boats to travel from the
Atlantic to the Mediterranean without
the dangerous month-long voyage on
the pirate-infested waters of the Iberian
Peninsula. The 150-mile-long canal is filled
with small vacation boats that peacefully
float along its length and through its
Other outstanding wines in the region
are made from varietals more typical to the
Mediterranean, such as a Grenache Gris
from l’Oustal Blanc and Grenache Noir
from Château le Bouïs in the Corbieres. In
the beautiful village of Gruissan, that sits
on the Mediterranean shore, you can
enjoy tasting Château le Bouïs’ Romeo
and Juliet wines, that are alike in dignity
and showcase the well-paired elegance
and fruit of Languedoc wines. It’s easy to
taste the Mediterranean sunshine in
these rich and delicate wines.
The great beauty of this region is also
derived from its impressive diversity.
You can ski in the morning and go to the
beach in the afternoon. The Languedoc-
Roussillon has long been a meeting point
between the cultures of the ancient
Occitan and Catalan worlds that merge
on the borders of France and Spain,
giving the region its wonderful reputation
for wine and cuisine. The Languedoc-
Roussillon region, which once served as a
gateway for Crusaders, is today home to
some of the finest wines in the world.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ryan O’Connell grew up
in Tampa and moved to France with his parents
after his graduation from college to create
their O’Vineyards Winery. Since then, he has
become an ambassador for the Languedoc-
Roussillon region and has created a video blog,
www.lovethatlanguedoc.com, and a Twitter
site, “languedocjetaim.”He is a noted speaker
on both the wines of France and the affect of
the internet on wineries, with particular
emphasis on the Mobile Web. If you are in the
South of France, he would love to give you a
personal tour of his family’s winery, while his
mom Liz whips up a few of her spectacular
specialties in the kitchen for you to enjoy in
their tasting room. Ryan can be contacted at
Jancis just wrote a very cleverly titled article “11 into 33 does go” (you have to subscribe to read the whole thing). This is more than just a simple math question. It’s a reference to French department numbers. 11 is Aude (Languedoc) and 33 is Gironde (Bordeaux). And this article talks about the sad truth that nobody likes to discuss.
While tons of our region’s wine cooperatives flounder and go out of business, there are still some cooperatives and negociants with tankers pumping wine nearly 24/7. It makes you think that there’s a lot of hustle and bustle. But where is the wine going? And at what cost?
Well, a short inspection of the license plates reveals a lot. All the tankers filling up with Languedoc wine have license plates that read 33. Gironde. Bordeaux. It’s nearly impossible to prove what happens once the wine gets into the winery since the French classification system is almost 100% enforced by paper trail alone. But that’s where the wine is going. Or at least, that’s where the trucks came from.
I’m really happy to see a writer of Jancis’ level talking about this issue because it’s a real wine story. Not a lot of that in wine journalism today.