Here we are, Clare, Rob, Sarah and Tim on a four day press trip in mid April to the Cathar country.
From a rainy London, we arrive in Minerve with a temperature of around 30º after a quick lunch on the banks of the canal du Midi along which Patricia, from the Languedoc Roussillon tourist board has driven us.
The light around us is getting into our heads and we start speaking with the locals as we have drinks at the local café after a walk all around this old medieval city with such a rich history.
Then, we’re off to the Villa Limonade where Stephen and Jean Marc are waiting for us in the old factory they have refurbished themselves into a fantastic gorgeous B & B. And the ceremony dedicated to gastronomy and wine begins.
First a lesson about oenology: how to know, discover, appreciate the wines by the color, the tears, the legs, the aromas….and then diner to titillate our tastebuds with a fantastic meal and great local wines. Everyone is in a great mood as Jean Marc explains the receipes, and the chutneys and jams he prepares in the winter.
Jams, kiwis and lemons, all the fruits of southern France are waiting for us on the breakfast table with homemade breads, brioches and so many delicacies. Just on time to leave for a walk in the countryside in the middle of the vineyards and, discover Georges. More real than real! 80 years old, in the middle of his vines at 60 years old, what an exceptional moment, and so nice, so kind and so …coquin too….As we say in French, le vin conserve!
And then, to the Domaine de Barroubio, in Saint Jean de Minervois. Mr Barroubio welcomes us and makes us tast his production, as he tells us about the history of his family who has been on this property for 300 years, his projects for his son, his love of Britain and before we are a little bit too drunk – about 35º outside the cellar – offers us a sample of each cepage.
Surprise, surprise… the Chateau de Siran is not exactly fun, so we finish the day on the small local square of this village with the locals…Only the beginning of a long story of fun.
Saturday, the Chateau des OllieuxRomanis, another family who has worked on wines for decades, such a great welcome and savors, the Abbaye de Fontfroide and Narbonne.
I am French, quite mature, but I’d never been to Narbonne before, and what a shock. A small white city under the sun with such a history from the Roman times, an exceptional market – trust me, I love cooking! And we’re on the way to the Chateau le Bouis in Gruissan. The fun is increasing and we stop the car by the beach to splash around. This country is so wonderful, people so kind, we feel so relaxed.
Geraldine from the local tourist board and the beautiful lady owner of the Chateau Le Bouis are waiting for us for some more tasting as we hear the amazing story of this chateau. Owned by 3 demoiselles in the last century, the chateau was falling asleep and the vineyards with it. Once upon a time, a young lady passed by looking for a second house and decided to get the property and develop it. Today she is the maitresse des lieux who has fallen in love with wine making and furbished the property for receptions, conventions, still keeping 4 wonderful bedrooms in the old 3 demoiselles’ 19th century house.
That is where we are going to spend the rest of the evening, on the roof top, sipping the great white wine of the Chateau and looking at the stars in the clear sky. The world is ours!
The following day, before flying back to London, a visit to the old city of Carcassonne and a stop at the last but not least Chateau, the Chateau de Pennautier that has belonged to the same family for 4 centuries where Miren de Lorgeril, the owner gives us a fantastic snack and tasting before we get to the airport.
Back in GB, our mind is still there, on the 4 days under the stars in one of the most preserved regions of France where family values are so obviously protected. We’ll be back soon!
More photos on flickr.