Prior to the 17th century, the Roussillon, the southeasternmost portion of France, was part of the Principality of Catalonia. So historically, both language and culture had more to do with Barcelona rather than Paris. Indeed, still today you can hear Catalan spoken in villages of the Roussillon and many surnames are spelled the same on both sides of the Pyrenees Mountains. Furthermore, I have been told that Roussillon locals “feel” different from their fellow southern French compatriots, having a “independent” streak that marks their regional character.
What does this have to do with wine? In Europe, local wine styles relect the collective wisdom of many generations of grape-growers, seeing which grape variety works best with the local geography and climate. So the Roussillon shares similar soils and grapes as just across the border. Differences start with a completely different climate and, of course, a French approach to wine-making. This makes comparing and contrasting an interesting exercise.