'South of France' wine brand makes French wine history

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Languedoc roussillon Languedoc-roussillon France

A new 'South of France' wine brand covering the whole of France's
biggest wine region, Languedoc Roussillon, has been launched to
help French wine re-assert itself on the world stage.

"It is the new French style,"​ said Jacques Gravegeal, displaying his English language skills by repeating the slogan that accompanies the new brand; unveiled at this week's ViniSud wine show in Montpellier.

Gravegeal is the man behind 'South of France', or 'Sud de France' as it will be called in France.

The move represents a first in even France's lengthy wine history, bringing together Languedoc Roussillon's 19 Appellation Contrôlée (AOC) wine areas and around 15,000 vin de pays producers under one banner.

Wine producers taking part will strap a blue banner with the words 'Sud de France' or 'South of France' around their wine bottles. This will sit alongside, but not replace, the existing names of individual wines.

"I have one ambition: to make a territorial brand work as a commercial brand,"​ said Gravegeal, also the president of France's biggest vin de pays brand - Vin de Pays D'Oc - in an interview with BeverageDaily.com​.

"Languedoc Roussillon is still the biggest wine-producing region in the world, but it is a hidden region of France. No one knows where it is. When you talk about the south of France it is different, it creates an image in peoples' minds."

Gravegeal said he and others had first thought of the idea after noticing that the Greenwich Meridian line ran straight through Languedoc Roussillon.

He said Languedoc Roussillon's large selection of wines, including some of the world's best Muscat, means "we are the only region in France that could have done this"​.

Gravegeal insisted there was no specific target country for the brand, although the English slogan appears to be a clear attempt to gain ground in strongly emerging Anglo Saxon markets. East Asia is also viewed as an area with much potential for wine growth.

The brand launch shows how French winemakers are increasingly trying to face the crisis in their industry.

French wine exports fell another six per cent last year as competition from the New World increased, while wine consumption continues to fall in France. Critics say France has made things worse by producing too much low quality wine that won't sell.

Languedoc Roussillon, despite its growing number of successful and recognised wine producers, has come to embody the French wine crisis. The region's large dependence on vines as a source of income means it has been hit harder than most, with reports of suicides and attempted suicides in the winemakers' community.

Gravegeal said the South of France banner "will help because it brings everyone together. Yes, it is a big brand like those from Australia, California or South Africa. But, this way we can do it with personality too."

Adolphe Tourscher, representing the director of French wine buying firm Groupe Castel, was in talks with Gravegeal on Tuesday. Castel, which owns wine retailer Oddbins in the UK, sells 450m bottles of wine every year and is now the third biggest wine group in the world.

Related topics R&D Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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