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Languedoc AOP targets UK market

Published:  11 September, 2023

A regional appellation that stretches from Collioure, near the Spanish border, to the gates of Nîmes​, Languedoc AOP has established itself as one of the foremost French wine appellations in the last 15 years, particularly in the export market.

Despite its Old World roots, Languedoc AOP is an appellation that prides itself on change and adaptability, which is why, during a recent trip to London, AOP representatives were keen to promote a new advertising campaign.

The new strategy is intended to forgo the details on terroir and technique that many other French marketing campaigns rely on, instead going for a more palatable, mainstream and consumer-driven approach.

The product itself is very much on the rise – Languedoc AOP is now the number one appellation in the Languedoc region with 250,000hl produced in 2022. In terms of wine styles, over half (55%) is made up of rosé, followed by red (35%) and white (10%).

Olivier Legrand, director general of marketing for the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc, said: “Ten years ago, the overall production of Languedoc AOP was heavily weighted towards red wine styles, but in recent years the focus has been on rosé to keep up with demand.”

Total exports for Languedoc AOP were 17 million bottles in 2022, amounting to €55 million. 

Legrand added: “Our biggest export market is the USA, followed by China and the UK. The leading style in all of these countries is rosé – in the USA, for example, 70% of exports are made up of rosé wine.”

The recent success in the UK has come despite mitigating factors such as Brexit and Covid-19. Legrand continued: “In the short term, Languedoc AOP sales have increased in the UK, between 2017 and 2022, sales have gone up by nearly 14% and we hope to continue this forward momentum with our new marketing campaign.”

This growth is reflected in the UK supermarket sector, where Languedoc's share of the French AOP wine market is now 6.5% (vs 5% in 2021)​. Overall sales of Languedoc AOP have risen in UK supermarkets by 6.6% in the last three years. 

However, the objective over the next five years is to be recognised as one of the top 20 wine-producing regions for UK consumers. According to Wine Intelligence, Languedoc ranks 26th in its wine region-aided awareness report, which ranks regions in order of their notoriety with UK consumers. Champagne, Bordeaux and Prosecco make up the top three, and the goal for Languedoc is to surpass the likes of Marlborough, Piedmont and Saint-Émilion.

“We wanted to bring forward a broader identity that wasn’t focused solely on the wine. We have found, in the past, that campaigns that are too heavily focused on terroir and grape styles can be too complicated for consumers,” said Legrand.

As a result, Languedoc AOP will soon roll out its new advertising campaign centred around the theme of ‘vibrations’.

Legrand continued: “Everything in our territory is the result of vibrations, from the colour of the light that changes every hour of every day to the sounds of the Cicada in the summer, to the winemakers themselves, all of whom have strong and unique individual characters.”

The artwork and messaging might be more akin to fragrance commercials with its use of striking colours and broad themes, but the appellation is undeniably on the rise and time will tell if other French AOPs follow suit in order to increase sales in the export market. 

As for lighter styles to combat UK duty rises, Legrand thinks it's unlikely that the abv of Languedoc AOP wines will be lowered. 

"We have followed market trends in recent years as illustrated by the rise of rosé, but many of our wines sit around the 13% abv mark, and it's not possible to lower this without compromising on quality, which isn't something we are prepared to do," Legrand concluded.