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Côtes De Thongue

Côtes de Thongue is an IGP title covering wines made in an area on the southern slopes of the Montagne Noire in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. The wide valley of the river Thongue has been utilised viticulturally for hundreds of years, and is covered by the AOC Languedoc appellation, as well as the vineyards of Faugères higher in the hills. The IGP covers wines that are not made to the specifications of these appellations.

The official vineyard area covers 23 villages in the southwest of the Hérault departement, mostly on the low rolling hills at the base of the mountains. Here, vineyards are subject to a classic Mediterranean climate, which offers up hot, dry summers and mild winters, with most rainfall concentrated in spring and autumn.

A slight variation of temperatures exists as the landscape rises into the mountains, where a slightly cooler environment is better suited to introduced grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. On the hotter land nearer the coast, the sun-baked terroir is better suited to Mediterranean varieties like Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.

The presence of the slow-moving river (a tributary of the Hérault river that gives the departement its name) has contributed a great range of soil types to the Côtes de Thongue area. These soils include stony marl river terraces and calcareous clay, along with some sandy gravel. The best vineyards are planted on the lighter soils with better drainage, allowing for the production of more concentrated grapes as there is less energy for the vines to expend on leafy vegetation.

Prior to 2009, the area was covered by the Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue denomination. However, this category has been replaced by Indication Géographique Protégée in order to bring French wine labeling conventions more in line with the European Union. The law reform included an expansion of the Côtes de Thongue IGP catchment zone, to reflect the similarity of terroir in the wider area.

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