Throughout the Sud de France Top 100 selection were dotted names of recent AOCs and IGPs that reflect the increasing exploration and experience of the grape growers and winemakers in the Occitanie.

Small regions shine out amongst the big names

I have to admit that AOP Languedoc Grés de Montpellier is a new one on me.

I’m not saying it’s a new one on everyone out there, but even the most ardent of Languedoc lovers will admit this small region, nestled in between the city of Montpellier and Picpoul de Pinet to the south west, could be considered ‘niche’. In fact, only 9,000 hl of wine are produced in the AOC in total each year.

Mas du Novi, whose wines placed well in the Top 100, produce 10% of the entire output of the AOC on its own.

Owner and winemaker Thierry Thomas bought the property in 1994 when fresh out of winemaking college in Montpellier, and was drawn to the unique combination of soils and climate.

“The big point of difference to the terroir here is the soils,” revealed Thomas. “They are laden with pebbles and pockets of iron-rich clays. We’re also very close to the sea despite the 150m altitude of the vineyards. This means we get regular moist air from the sea that streams up the Côteaux before stopping at the top and keeping the whole area beautifully fresh.”

Thomas’ property is surrounded by 50 hectares of organically cultivated vines and 50 hectares of the kind of Southern French landscapes adorning the postcards, with woods and garrigue plants all overlooking the coast and the ever-popular Étang de Thau lagoon. But it’s not all scenic luxury, grape growing has its challenges, least of all with the vines’ low yields.

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Thierry Thomas from Mas du Novi