Tuesday 16 November 2010

Outsiders Rocking the Languedoc

I wasn't able to make the 'Outsiders' tasting in London last week. Judging by the comments on Outsiders Facebook page, Ryan at LovethatLanguedoc and the excellent reviews from fellow bloggers Graham and Leon Stolarski, the event was a success. Tasters commented on the 'family feel' of the tasting, the passion and humility of the winemakers. And also on the impeccable organisation, mostly due to the effort of that 'Languedoc powerhouse' (I'm quoting Ryan here), the enthusiastic and delightful Louise Hurren. Well done Louise.

But why focus just on those Languedoc wines made by expats? Why are they different? Well I guess the point is not that the wines are any better or worse than wines from independent producers who were born and raised here.

It's because Outsiders have a different perspective. For a start, for many it is a second (or third) career. Passion is an overused word when it comes to wine but it's difficult to see what else could justify giving up a well-paid desk job to scrape by making wine in rural France. Any romantic dreams vanish after weeks of pruning in January's biting winds. So they have made a conscious decision to move country and careers, as opposed to inheriting a domaine. Starting from scratch means having to learn quickly, not be afraid to ask lots of questions and to ask for advice. And just, well, give it a go.

Being an Outsider also brings an understanding of the market and wines from elsewhere. And, hopefully, contacts in one's native country that can provide an foothold in the export market.

And anyway, why NOT get together and promote their wines and the Languedoc region in general? It's good publicity.

There are 12 producers listed on the Facebook page but there are many more Outsiders making wine in the Languedoc. It'll be interesting to see if it all snowballs and there are 3 times that number by next year.


  1. golly, i'm blushing! thank you for the kind words. it was great fun to organise, and I appreciated the support and encouragement of the 12 producers in question. i'd love to put on an Outsiders tasting here in the Languedoc sometime next year, so watch the facebook page for details!


  2. I think a key point here is that the Languedoc is still a relatively affordable place to buy vines with proven potential.

    Thinking about the Terrasses du Larzac and environs there are plenty of French "outsiders" who have got going in the past 10 years who are from elsewhere in France. However, a key point about this London tasting is that all the producers had a good command of English and saw the UK as an important market - I don't think I've ever been to an event (anywhere) where all the producers wanted to be there and enjoyed it.

  3. I think that having a different perspective is the key element. People generally assume that it's easy-peasy for me to sell wine in the UK just because I'm English but that is absolutely not the case.

    Coming from outside the wine business and from outside the region allows us to see its strengths and weaknesses and how we can fit into the world of wine in a less formulaic way.

  4. Sometimes being unburdened by inborn knowledge, unhampered by deeply held traditions, and unrestricted by the status quo can help. (Sometimes it doesn't.) Being an Outsider has a lot to do with a state of mind. This Tasting was surely the best the Maison de Languedoc has ever seen - because of Louise herself: an Outsider par excellence.

  5. It was an excellent event organised by Louise. It allowed us to showcase our wines to a group of selected professionals in a friendly environment. There are plenty of "Outsiders" in France and particularly the Languedoc who are carving a niche for themselves and their wines. They along with some of the exciting new French talent in the region will hopefully lift the Languedoc from the image of it being a "wine lake" to a region which I consider one of the most exciting in Europe. Bring it on!

  6. Thanks for your comments 'Outsiders`'. I can see that coming from outside the wine business as well as the region can bring a fresh, uncluttered perspective. Just came across these comments on some of the wines from Sally Easton. See http://www.winewisdom.com/articles/outsiders-view-of-the-languedoc/

  7. And for those who missed the London event, we're doing an Outsiders tasting on "home" turf in Montpellier on Monday January 24th at Chez Boris, 17 boulevard Sarrail, 34000 Montpellier (just off the Place de la Comedie), 6 - 9 pm. Trade, press and wine lovers welcome. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530080796#!/event.php?eid=178064278878254

  8. The Languedoc Outsiders will be presenting a tasting with a twist (leave your preconceived notions at home) at Vinisud 2012, on Monday February 20th (4pm) and Tuesday 21st (10am) in the dedicated web 2.0 space at this Montpellier trade show. More details on our website http://languedoc-outsiders.com