My first purchase, a case of the 1988 vintage, was a couple of years before first visiting the region (accidentally) in 1993. Having tried it at a tasting I simply perceived it as better value than Bordeaux. It more than fitted the bill and subsequently I bought most vintages until the 1998, of which I have high hopes but have yet to taste - my case lies with a friends in bonded storage. All this said, something changed after the 1991 vintage - leaner more closed wines that have not been at all memorable.
I broached my second to last bottle of the 1996 (80% Cabernet Sauvignon) and consumed it over two evenings. Dark garnet with little browning for it's age. Distant blackcurrant, although this emerged somewhat the next day, and a palate of tight fruit with hints of broom and pepper. Reminiscent of a Medoc in structure with plenty of chewy tannins that I enjoy. More balanced 24 hours later, but ultimately it lacks the richness and generosity of the better 1980s vintages. Further ageing could well help.
Proving that the Languedoc can deliver a Bordeaux style alternative seemed a necessary first step to shake up the fine wine merchant and consumer mind set. There is, of course, still a long way to go for the regions mainstream Mediterranean cépages.