LANGUEDOC CAVES CO-OPERATIVES
There are some interesting figures in the current issue of Terres de Vins, illustrating just how important the wine coops are in France, and in particular the south of France. Once upon a time virtually every village in the Languedoc had its own cooperative, but no longer. Some have disappeared and others have joined up with neighbouring coops; and others have successfully forged a path that has enabled them to develop a reputation both at home and abroad. Some coops are vital to their appellation; quite simply the wine of Cabrières would not exist without its village coop, and the British market would probably ignore Fitou without the efforts of the Mont Tauch coop in Tuchan. It is a rare appellation that does not have a coop.
The first wine cave cooperative was created in the village of Maraussan in the Hérault back in 1901. So in 2010 France had 715 wine coops, of which 215 are in Languedoc-Roussillon. In 2008 French wine coops produced 18 million hectolitres from 350,000 hectares of vines, representing nearly half the wine production of France. And Languedoc Roussillon is responsible for a little under 9 million litres, which represents 70% of the wine production of the whole region. The moral here is: don’t take your local wine coop for granted. They may rarely produce great wine, but the best produce some remarkably fine wine, and often at an excellent rapport qualité prix.
Until recently I was writing a series of articles for the internal magazine of the UK Coop shops about wine coops, and since the series has been dropped – blame cut backs – I thought I would post the articles about the various Languedoc coops that I visited for the series.
First up – Cabrières in the sequel to this post.