Pays d’Oc PGI broadly covers the south of France. So, it’s big. This wine-making powerhouse incorporates the 4 departments of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The designation focuses primarily on varietal wine or wine made from a single grape, and bottles are conveniently labelled with the grape name. This unique selling point creates a consumer-friendly product since many of the world’s drinkers find variety, rather than region, easier to understand. In fact, experts attribute the success of the Pays d’Oc PGI to this phenomenon. Since the first Pays d’Oc PGI bottles hit shelves in 1987, sales have soared from 80,000 to a current 800 million. A staggering 24 bottles are sold every second worldwide.
But volume sales stats aren’t the whole story. Wine growers have a whopping 58 different permitted grape varieties from which to choose. A large share of French Syrah and Chardonnay are grown in Pays d’Oc, and it boasts the world’s most extensive Merlot plantings. Of course, not all wine is varietal. Many beautiful blends come from this PGI. Growers also have an array of soils in which to plant: sand, limestone, schist, and clay, all graced with a warm Mediterranean climate. And since Pays d’Oc has fewer rules and fees than an appellation like Burgundy, vintners are free to mix and match grapes, providing exciting variety and unparalleled value for the consumer.
Regarding quality, 100 percent of proposed Pays d’Oc wines are analyzed and tasted by an independent panel before being labeled and sold under the category. To help promote the region and it’s commitment to quality, an international jury convenes annually to select outstanding ‘Collection’ wines. These top examples serve a year-long ambassadorship for the region as they are showcased at a raft of events in France and abroad. This year, Wine Enthusiast’s Roger Voss was part of the jury panel alongside eleven other international experts representing seven nationalities.