The Côtes de Thongue deserves to be taken as seriously as any appellation. It was recognised as a Vin de Pays in 1982 and at one stage there were aspirations for an appellation, but the wine-growers realised that they would have so much more freedom if they remained as Vin de Pays, or IGP as it is now called.
Being made an appellation would have seen their choice of grape varieties severely restricted; instead, there are now a breathtaking 110 grapes mentioned in the cahier des charges (the appellation rule book), as opposed to 58 for the Pays d’Oc IGP.
‘Perhaps surprisingly for the Languedoc, Côtes de Thongue is developing a reputation for its white wines’
Unlike many of the IGPs of the south, there’s no parallel appellation. If the wines are not Côtes de Thongue, they’re either IGPs Pays de l’Hérault or Pays d’Oc, but the producers tend to favour Côtes de Thongue, as that gives them a much more individual identity. Maybe a single-varietal wine will be Pays d’Oc, but the blends are all Côtes de Thongue.
So you could say that variety is the name of the game, with very few rules to be broken.