Pays d’Oc IGP


Boasting 26 centuries of wine growing, Pays d’Oc is following in the footsteps of the Romans and the Cistercian monks. Discover the history of the designation.

France’s oldest wine region was founded around the Roman colony of Narbonne in 118 BC, and Pays d’Oc winegrowers have celebrated the 30th anniversary of the creation of the designation. Its inception dates back to 1987 and revolves around the concept of varietal wines (single-variety). Recognized as a Protected Geographical Indication at European level since August 2009, this official quality endorsement has allowed winegrowers to push the boundaries of wine styles, beyond those of the appellations.

Home to 58 grape varieties grown between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains, IGP Pays d’Oc varietal wines cover an extensive, sun-kissed region, from the Camargue to the Vermilion Coast, in the heart of France’s largest wine region, also renowned for its appellation wines. Principal grape varieties and wines are presented below.

Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Alicante, Cabernet Franc, Caladoc, Carménère, Cinsault, Cot (ou Malbec), Gamay, Marselan, Mondeuse, Morrastel, Mourvèdre, Muscat Petits Grains Rouges, Négrette, Nielluccio, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Portan, and Tempranillo

Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Viognier, Muscat à Petits Grains, Altesse, Alvarinho, Bourboulenc, Carignan blanc, Chasan, Chenin, Clairette Blanche, Colombard, Gewurztraminer, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Gros Manseng, Macabeu, Marsanne, Mauzac, Muscat d’Alexandrie, Petit Manseng, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Piquepoul (Folle Blanche), Riesling, Roussanne, Sauvignon Gris, Sémillon, Sylvaner, Terret, Ugni Blanc, and Vermentino (or Rolle)

Top single-variety IGP Pays d’Oc red wines

Merlot – Merlot is a firm international favorite and a real force to be reckoned with in Pays d’Oc, which is the world’s leading producer with 21,000 hectares. Its broad-ranging aromatic spectrum – from fruity and velvety through to full-bodied and structured – secures it the lion’s share of a very varied range of red and rosé wines. Its aromatic complexity makes it a blending component for fine, age-worthy wine, but it also delivers supple, easy-drinking wines designed for fairly early drinking. 

Food and wine pairing: Fleshy and sensual making it a great paring with red meats. Its character and tannins are a good match for the ‘charred’ flavors of barbecue-cooked foods but a great companion of more contemporary pairings like a good hamburger!

Cabernet-Sauvignon – In Languedoc-Roussillon, where it was skillfully introduced in the 1970s by winegrower Aimé Guibert at Mas de Daumas Gassac, accounts for 33% of vineyard acreage. The sunshine and warmth of Pays d’Oc do not erase my hallmark aromas of red fruits, including cherry, blackcurrant and licorice. In fact, they emphasize them by adding a touch of prune and spice. Cabernet-Sauvignon produces very slow-maturing wines which over time offer up supple tannins, with fruity and spicy aromas that can develop tertiary aromas of forest floor, leather and cocoa. Its ability to produce stellar wines makes it the cornerstone varietal of top-end IGP Pays d’Oc.

Food and wine pairing: Once they’re full of flavor, any type of grilled meat is a great companion. In cooler weather, Cabernet-Sauvignon is an ideal partner for dishes served with a sauce because its powerful aromas and velvety texture that enhance their flavor.

Syrah (Shiraz) – Is now the world’s ‘star’ grape variety, flourishing over 40,000 hectares in Languedoc-Roussillon. In the IGP Pays d’Oc region, this Mediterranean grape variety with its substantial wealth of aromas fully flexes its creative muscle, from expressive rosés to powerful, barrel-matured reds, as well as light and fruity ‘primeur’, early-release wines. Ripe black fruits, spice notes – especially pepper, and a gentle hallmark perfume of violet develop in this sunny environment and on the drier soils.

Food and wine pairing: Provided the food is flavorful, goes with anything! Grilled meats, cold cuts, salads… even fusion foods are not taboo! In fact, generally speaking, Syrah is great with spicy Asian foods or Indian curries.

Grenache – Introduced into Languedoc in the Middle Ages, Spanish-native Grenache Noir is now the most widely grown grape variety in the world after Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon. In Languedoc-Roussillon, it owes its reputation to the dessert wines of Roussillon, but it is also used in appellation blends for Collioure, Rivesaltes, Tavel and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. With its fairly high alcohol and low tannin content, the weather in Pays d’Oc is perfect and the range of soil types allows a full expression of a broad-ranging array of aromas from strawberry and blackcurrant to white flowers and spices.

Food and wine pairing: Pairs with many different styles of food but its character and spice notes make it a particularly good partner for grilled white meats and fish.

Carignan – Originally from Aragon in Spain, this hallmark Mediterranean grape variety was established in the region several centuries ago. It is enjoying a revival after being much-maligned in the plains of Languedoc, due to its ability to produce high yields. Now fashionable again, it offers good resistance to water stress and excels with old vines planted on schist or clay-limestone soils. It currently covers 25,000 hectares out of the 120,000 hectares of IGP Pays d’Oc vineyards and more often used in blends. With its beautiful black color with slight purple hues, Carignan has notes of prune, blackcurrant, wild strawberry and black cherry, as well as spicy notes (grey pepper).

Food and wine pairing: Served at 18°C, it goes well with preparations made from lamb, game (boar stew), duck breast with cranberries and savory dishes (pepper steak, tournedos with porcini mushrooms). Other suggestions are pumpkin velouté with chestnuts, rabbit with blackcurrant mustard, cassoulet, or all-chocolate dessert!

Top single-variety IGP Pays d’Oc white wines

Chardonnay – The global king of white grape varieties originated in Burgundy and shows great talent in Pays d’Oc, securing it a place among elite white IGP Pays d’Oc wines. It extends over nearly 13,792 hectares in the region. In Languedoc-Roussillon, Chardonnay is also used to produce Crémant and Blanquette de Limoux, coupled with Mauzac and Chenin. Cultivated in the Pays d’Oc, Chardonnay develops a fruity edge of pear, peach, almond and hazelnut.

Food and wine pairing: A perfect match for every type of fish, shellfish and seafood so it goes without saying that in Pays d’Oc the choices are endless! In fact, these Chardonnays are so versatile that they can be enjoyed from the starter through to dessert.

Sauvignon – The stellar white grape variety Sauvignon delivers its finest expression in the cooler vineyard sites in Pays d’Oc, where it accounts for more than 5,000 hectares of the region’s area under vine. Not very productive although much sought-after for its structure, freshness and minerality, it is often blended with other grape varieties. Pays d’Oc is drier and hotter than its native Bordeaux but sunshine and and mediterranean climate have a very positive effect this Sauvignon, underscoring citrus flavors of lemon and pomelo, and its vegetal aromas of boxwood and jasmine.

Food and wine pairing: Its aromas make the perfect match for the tangy flavors of lemongrass, fresh coriander and basil, all of them staples of Asian dishes and used by many contemporary chefs. This Sauvignon also accompanies marvelously seafood and sushi.  

Viognier – Likely introduced to Gaul by the Emperor Probus, it has been grown for aeons in the northern Côtes du Rhône, but only covers 1,500 hectares in Pays d’Oc, producing mainly single varietals, which are often highly prized. Viognier develops very complex aromas, both fruity (peach, pear, apricots, tropical fruits) and floral (white flowers).

Food and wine pairing: Goes great with succulent Provencal-style Mediterranean red mullet fillets lightly seared on a hot plate. More classic enthusiasts enjoy Viognier with diced chicken or turkey marinated in lemon, whereas the more daring savor it with a wide range of tapas or even sushi!

Muscat à Petits Grains – Grown along the shores of the Mediterranean since Antiquity, Muscat à petits grains is mainly found in the South of France and Spain. Its name is associated with fortified sweet wines. Ably represented in Languedoc-Roussillon by Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel and Muscat de Saint-Jean-de-Minervois, it is also used to make dry white wines and sparkling wines, such as Clairette de Die, Moscato d’Asti and Asti spumante in Italy. In the vineyards of Pays d’Oc, Muscat à petits grains produces many dry white wines. Pale and shiny yellow color, its nose is Intense with citrus and exotic fruits, finely musky spices, and delicate floral notes. On the palate, these wines aromatic and well-balanced wine with richness and smoothness as well as lively thanks its spicy nature.

Food and wine pairing: Delicious as a summer aperitif or with asparagus, fish, shellfish, marinière mussels, risotto from the sea, cod brandade, tarragon chicken, or prepared salads.


2009: Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP*)

Location: Aude, Gard, Hérault, and Pyrénées Orientales departments

Production area: 120 000 ha (296 000 acres)

Harvest: 6.2 million hl (620 million litres), 54% red, 25% white, 21% rosé

Terroir: On the Mediterranean coast, the IGP Pays d’Oc covers no less than four departments: Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault and Gard. Between the steep slopes of the Pyrenees, the hilly reliefs, the Mediterranean Sea and the scrubland, the vines here benefit from a great richness and an incredible diversity of soils, climates and exposures.

Climate: The climate in Pays d’Oc is Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and mild winters, and most of the rainfall is compressed into spring and autumn. It’s influenced by the Atlantic in the west and continental in the east with four strong winds: mistral, tramontane, sea and autan.

* Created by the EU in 1992, the IGP label designates products that have been produced, processed and developed in a specific geographical area, using the recognized know-how of local producers and ingredients from that region. The English equivalent is PGI (Protected Geographical Indication).