The ascension of Languedoc Grés de Montpellier to its own specific appellation status was approved on 30 November 2023 by the French National Institute for Origin and Quality (INAO).
Once the decree has been officially formalised, which will take place in the next few weeks, it will allow producers to label their wines as Grés de Montpellier from the 2024 vintage, dropping the preceding ‘Languedoc’ nomenclature.
‘The national commission found that the dossier [submitted by the winegrowers] proved that Grés de Montpellier is a terroir in its own right,’ Olivier Durand, president of the Grés de Montpellier appellation, told Decanter.
‘There is a collective pride,’ said Durand, ‘because, as well as being about a specific geographic and climatic terroir, this is a human story.’
The new appellation is designated for red wines only, made from Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre as principal varieties and Cinsault, Carignan and Morrastel as secondary varieties, and requiring a minimum of one year of ageing.
The Grés de Montpellier vineyard area, influenced by its proximity to the Mediterranean sea, covers 4,600ha in fragmented pockets around the city of Montpellier, stretching for 60km across 45 villages from Montagnac in the west to Lunel in the east. The vineyards, of which only 420ha are currently in production of Grés de Montpellier wines, are located on gently rolling hills, between 30m and 300m altitude, with stony soils.
According to Durand, not only does the decision of the INAO cement the appellation as the ‘flagship of Montpellier’, but it also allows the producers to ‘commercially justify a certain price for their wines’.
‘The goal is for these wines to be recognised as great wines of Languedoc,’ said Durand.
Grés de Montpellier is the first to gain appellation status in the Languedoc since Pic St Loup in 2017, highlighting just how long the application process can take.
The success of Grés de Montpellier’s application to the INAO opens the door for the other of Languedoc’s complementary geographic denominations, such as Languedoc Montpeyroux, Languedoc Saint-Drézéry and Languedoc Saint-Georges d’Orques, to gain their own specific appellation status.