Faugères is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in France and is named after Faugères. It is also known as Coteaux-du-Languedoc Faugères and lies 20 km northwest of Béziers, on the hills of Hérault. It is a local classification within the Coteaux-du-Languedoc AOC.
The Middle Ages
Faugères is not the oldest winemaking area in Languedoc. In the Middle Ages, its land was mainly used for growing grain, and olive trees. Some vines were also grown, however, but mainly for producing altar wine.
The Modern Period
Faugères really came into bloom as a wine-producing area around the time of the French revolution, i.e. around the start of the 19th century. Local wine was in fact mainly turned into a type of eau de vie, using a Charentaise distilling method that was practically unknown in the Languedoc. This method was called 'fine', so this eau de vie was named 'Fine Faugères'.
- 1948: The Faugères terroir's borders were defined, in the aftermath of the Second World War. Its borders remain the same to this day.
- 1955: Faugères wine was classified as Appellation d'Origine Vin de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) for each wine style; red, white and rosé.
- 1960s: Violent storms brought destruction to part of the Faugères vineyards, with torrential rain that gullied the vines. Certain plots of land were completely buried in landslides. Vines were replanted along the contour lines of the newly formed land.
- 1982: Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC Faugères) classification replaced VDQS for the red and rosé Faugères wines.
- 2000: Eau de vie production was recommenced in Faugères.
- 2005: AOC replaced VDQS status for the white Faugères wines.
The name of the AOC comes from the village Faugères, whose earliest known written form, dating back to 934 AD, was de Falgarias. This in turn is taken from the Latin filicaria, meaning "fern" in English, and translating into French as "fougère".
The appellation area covers 1800 hectares, and consists mainly of primary, schist soils. The majority of the region's vineyards have full southern exposure and lie on rugged slopes. Some hills in the northern area of the appellation area reach altitudes higher than 500m. The Departmental Director of Agriculture, in collaboration with 'SAFER' (French regional societies for the development of land and rural establishments), have experimented setting up vineyards along contour lines, which serves to limit the effects of erosion.
The Faugères AOC soil is mainly composed of schist. This schist is metamorphic rock, the result of excessive pressure on clay deposits during the Paleozoic Era and the formation of the Massif Central to the North. Schist is characterised by its capacity to retain large amounts of water (up to a third of its volume) and its heat-storing properties, absorbing heat during the day and releasing it at night. Faugères winemakers often say that their grapes ripen overnight. A geological curiosity exists in the Cabrerolles commune - the meteorite hole, a kind of meteor crater whose origins remain uncertain. The crater is in a place named 'Le Clot'. The outer rim of the crater has vines planted on it, which produces a wine called 'Domaine du Météore'.
This terroir enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mountainous influences, characterised by gentle winters, hot, dry summers, and a low amount of rainfall that comes mainly in the winter months. Its main winds are the Tramontane, a dry and cold wind that blows clouds away, and the Marin, a humid wind that, contrarily, brings clouds in. The climate can sometimes be very harsh. The table below records temperatures and rainfall for 2007:
|Maximum Average Temperature (°C)||6||7||11||13||17||22||25||25||20||15||9||7||14,75|
|Minimum Average Temperature (°C)||1||1||3||4||8||12||14||14||11||8||4||2||6,8|
|Average Temperatures (°C)||3,5||4||7||8,5||12,5||17||18,5||18,5||15,5||11,5||6,5||4,5||9,8|
|Rainfall (avg. in mm)||36,2||27,0||23,9||43,8||46,0||34,9||22,9||31,1||50,0||60,1||45,1||37,7||461,7|
|Source: MSN Weather|
The main grape varieties in Faugères are Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah for red and rosé wines. Rousanne, white Grenache, Marsanne and Vermentino for white wines. 80% of grape production is used to make red wine.
Vines are planted against the slope to gain maximum sunlight from southern exposure. After the awful storms in the 1960s, however, Faugères winemakers replanted a lot of vines along the terrain's contour lines. The vines are now adapted to the natural slope of the schist hillsides. Because of this, the erosive effects of heavy autumnal rain are much smaller than in other vineyards in the Languedoc. Similar projects are being considered by the Saint-Chinian AOC and Coteaux du Languedoc areas.
There are two cooperative wineries and 44 winemakers in independent wineries (as of 2010).
Faugères wines are rounded, with matured fruits and soft tannins.
Notes and references
- Albert Dauzat and Charles Rostaing, Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de lieux en France, Éd. Larousse, 1968, p.1784
- MSN Weather Monthly Temperature temperatures for Bédarrieux (Languedoc).
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