Wine clubs are abound in Norway. Small groups of friends, usually ladies (6-8 persons) will get together to drink wine and a few meetings later a new wine club is born. Next step in the club’s evolution is to start thinking of organising a 4-5 five day wine tasting tour in one of the many nearby wine regions in Europe. Such collectives will skip the travel agent in Norway and make direct contacts in the wine destination they decide on.
One such wine club contacted us 3 years ago and asked us to organise a winery visit programme for them in Spain. Two years later and they’re back and have asked us to do the same again but this time in France. Here is our programme. If you are a blogger and would like to join us at any or all of the wineries please let us know.
We kick off with a great visit to Les Vignerons du Cap Leucate This winery has a strong interest in developing wine tourism. They make 67 or so different wines. We will visit both the old and new wineries and we’ve chosen 5 wines for the tasting. Later, and weather permitting we will nip down to the seashore and jump into a boat which will take us to one of the ocean oyster farms. Once on the wooden island in the middle of the sea we’ll be shown how oysters are farmed and later we’ll be trying a few matched with their wines. Watch out for the video and blog post of this unique wine tourism activity.
Day 2 Thursday 15 April – Appellation of Collioure – Banyuls
Nestling in the foothills of Pyrenees, Banyuls is a charming old fishing village, with quaint narrow streets and excellent beaches. The steep slopes surrounding the village are mostly planted with Grenache Noir vines. The soil in the vineyards is retained by an amazing 6000 km of walls. Because the hillsides are so steep the grapes are all harvested by hand. A few vineyards have reverted to using the old methods and produce organic wines. We will visit Domaine Berta – Maillol and then we’ll be off to the village of Trouillas and visit of the Domaine Treloar followed by lunch in the winery. After lunch we`ll be poping down to Collioure, a delightful and romantic town where anchovy fishers and the painters such as Matisse, Derain, Dufy… cohabitated. It is the cradle of fauvism. Time to stroll around this unique fishing village and a chance to practice your pebble skimming skills from the beach.
Day 3 Friday 16 April – Languedoc Wine Region
Today we will be heading north to visit our friends at the Domaine Bassac (Puissalicon) which produces wine made from organically grown grapes. Lunch at the winery and followed by afternoon winery visit which we don’t the name of yet as Louis, the Domaine Bassac winemaker is keeping it a secret. On the way back we will make a stop to visit the enchanting town of Narbonne. A chance to do a bit of shopping!
We have recommended accommodation in the delightful customer orientated Hôtel La Terrasse au Soleil located in Céret, close the French – Spanish border for this Grape Escape. We’ll be featuring them in a blog post too.
Day 4 Saturday 17April – Historic Cathar Country & Appellation of Blanquette
The Cathars were a simple people. The framework for their belief is found in the Sermon on the Mount. They opposed gross materialism, especially as practiced by the church of the time.
They doubted the divinity of Jesus. God ruled in heaven and the devil controlled the earth.
These beliefs, of course, got them in big trouble with the established church, who found themselves holding a powerful position in the highly material world. So, like many simple societies that expressed alternative beliefs, they became fodder for the dominent culture’s bonfires. The inquisition tested itself with the Cathars. The Cathars lost — but not before they had inhabited some mighty fine castles to keep back the hordes after their necks.
First up in this packed winery visit day is a visit to Domaine du Dernier Bastion in Maury followed by a visit to nearby Domaine Salvat and then lunch at the famed Relais de Corbíères Is your mouth watering yet?
Now could be a good time to visit two of the many Cathar Castles. Château de Quéribus tops a rocky peak which is 728 metres highand it’s pretty steep as you can see from the photo. Perhaps we’ll just admire the view from the Doamine Salvat winery with a glass of fine wine in hand. Oh! which is the second castle you ask? That would be Château de Peyrepertuse built on a formidable limestone outcrop stretching over nearly 300 metres from east to west and is a max 70 metres wide with sheer drops. Chances are we’ll probably take a short cut and head straight to Limoux for our private visit to Sieur D’ Arques well known for making sparkling wines (Blanquette). Sparkling wines tend to be made from a blend of the following grape varieities: Mauzac, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and chenin.
Onward to Carcassonne. We have recommended a stay in Best Western Hôtel Le Donjon, Carcassonne. Romantic dinner with 6 ladies in the Cité!
Day 5 Sunday 18 April
Free morning and time to visit the Walled City (La Cité) of Carcassonne
Carcassonne is a city in the Aude département of the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the South of France. The modern city is built around two medieval cities, the original hill top Cité of Carcassonne on the north side of the River Aude, and the thirteenth century Bastide of Carcassonne on the South side of the River Aude. The older Cité is a spectacular walled town – the largest medieval town in Europe with its city walls intact. The Cité of Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the setting for many films featuring medieval castles. It is one of the few sights in the world that genuinely justifies the epithet “breath taking”.
After visiting the Cité, we’ll cruise over to Domaine O’Vineyards, an estate overlooking the castle ramparts that produces several Vins de la Cité de Carcassonne. The O’Connell family managing the Domaine are looking forward to greeting the ladies with wine and a little food before the flight home. By the end of the trip, they are sure to Love That Languedoc, which is the name of Ryan O’Connell’s web project that sheds a little light on this beautiful region.”
Wish you could join us for this fantastic wine route?
Be seeing you 🙂