Here's the original version of my story published on Decanter.com 14/12/2004.
The Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc (CIVL) has revealed plans to promote all the different appellations (AOC) under the one umbrella of ‘Languedoc’, and to work together with other producers to push the idea of ‘South of France’ in export markets. At the AGM held on 3rd December, the CIVL announced details of their marketing strategy for 2005 supported by a budget of €4 million, including a 30% increase in expenditure earmarked for export promotions and advertising. The boldest move is the willingness of the three largest regional associations – the CIVL, the Conseil Interprofessionnel Vins du Roussillon (CIVR) and Vins de Pays d’Oc growers – to pool their ideas and resources. The combined pot for export campaigns comes to €2.7 million. This new found cooperation takes in the ‘Printemps du Languedoc et du Roussillon’ tasting in London on 15th February, mini-fairs in Toronto and Vancouver in May and a joint stand at Germany’s Prowein exhibition.
The “common geographical ground focusing on the south of France” should communicate the diversity of the region’s wines better to the consumer. “The idea is simple,” Rémy Wuatelet, Marketing Director of the CIVL explained. “With intense international competition, we need to offer a complementary range that suits the market and consumer – still wines, varietals, sparkling and sweet – for a winning formula.” Individual Languedoc AOCs include traditional red blends such as Fitou and Corbières; the ‘cru’ subregions of Minervois la Livinière and Pic Saint Loup; dry whites Picpoul de Pinet and Clairette, Limoux sparkling wines and a variety of fortified Muscats. These will be marketed alongside Vins de Pays ‘cépages’ such as Syrah, Chardonnay and Grenache, and Côtes du Roussillon wines.
Michel Laroche, who already labels his varietal wines ‘South of France’, agrees working together “is fundamental; there’s too much complexity and we need to simplify things. South of France is more abstract yet means more.” Putting Languedoc in the spotlight also fits in with plans to launch an inter-regional AOC, which are awaiting approval from the INAO. The ad campaign in English centres on the Languedoc cross logo, which appears on specially embossed bottles, and the catchphrase ‘Fine French Mediterranean wines’. In addition, a ‘destinations’ theme links wine routes to tourism. Exports of Languedoc-Roussillon wines for the first eight months of 2004 were down 7% in volume and 3% in value. However, Canada, Japan and the US show positive trends outperforming all other countries, albeit from a smaller base.