Category: English

Helicopter over Corbieres and La Clape

Oh boy. So I got to fly over some of my favorite places in the Languedoc in one of Gerard Bertrand’s helicopters. Naturally we started and ended at two of his vineyards: Cigalus in Boutenac Corbieres and L’Hospitalet in La Clape. The journey took me over the northeastern portion of the Corbieres, the etangs (type of marshland) around Bages and Gruissan and the Massif de la Clape.

These are all landmarks that define the department of Aude in the Languedoc. These are some of my favorite places, and it was great to see them from above.

The big thing to take in is that the Languedoc and Aude in particular has a varied terrain with lots of peaks and valleys, plateaus, hills, and so on. These differing reliefs run right up to the coast and provide a wonderful backdrop for planting grapevines. They drain well and they create many different microclimates in close proximity. The Languedoc is a land of diversity!

I traced the approximate helicopter route on google maps if you want to follow along.

I also tried to caption a few photos from the ride so that you can be more certain of what you’re seeing when.

The landmarks in the video that people ask about most are the pink rectangles near Gruissan’s beachfront. Those are salins or salt pans where sea salt is harvested from the brine that is left behind after the sun evaporates sea water. The pink color comes from a microalgea called Dunaliella salina. Not all salt pans have this beautiful shade of pink and most fleur de sel I’ve seen in other regions retain a sort of grayish color rather than the pink one.

Enjoy the pictures and video! I hope you all get a chance to experience the massive beauty of the region one day.

Related Posts:

Costieres de Nimes – A Walk in the Vines

Earlier this year, a group of bloggers participated in a very interesting introduction to the Costieres de Nimes.

Costieres de Nimes

As I mentioned in last year’s Secret Wine competition, Costieres de Nimes is an interesting wine country that sits between the Languedoc and Rhone (both geographically and stylistically).  This unique position allows them to create their own style of elegant, rich wines.

A few observations:

  • Mostly red and rosé; syrah, grenache, etc.
  • Most producers I met seemed to have relatively large properties (40+ hectares)
  • about 100 wineries and 400-some growers.
  • Approximately 4500 hectares
  • mixed agriculture and viticulture
  • The vines were at least 3 weeks ahead of schedule in May 2011

I just popped a bottle of Chateau Mourgues du Gres yesterday with my dad.  It was one of my favorite producers from the trip, and the bottle I brought home was just as good as I remembered.  Here’s a video of the winemaker at Mourgues du Gres recorded by Christian Pennaud from Vinblog.

Costieres de Nimes is a region where people can make rich wines with a lot of balance. My kind of place.

I might also note that this is a slightly more agrarian landscape than many parts of the south of France. Beside vineyards, you could find fruit orchards, squash gardens, and other signs that there’s a little more water in the Costieres de Nimes than you might find in the heights of the Coteaux du Languedoc. It’s not ALL garrigue here. And that’s not a bad thing. The ultimate proof that this is an interesting terroir is that we tasted great wine (and enjoyed a beautiful walk too!)

Vignes Toquées

The Vignes Toquées event is a really wonderful opportunity to taste wine in context amidst the vines. You walk along a route that connects six vineyards. Each vineyard has a food station so that, by the end of the day, you’ve had a six course meal, tasted dozens of wines, and seen several different properties.

You really get to roam around where the wine comes from. See the vines. Kick the dirt. Feel the Mediterranean sunshine (and this May, it was out IN FORCE).

The biggest problem with tasting wine this way is that you can get really really hot (and somewhat exhausted). But the producers did an amazing job of keeping wines at temperature and the food was delicious.  And they had lots of water at all the stations.  Seasoned wine tasters know that water can be a rare commodity at some tasting events.  But there was plenty here to keep us hydrated as we walked in the warm Mediterranean sunshine.  Though I will admit that even I started to falter somewhere between the bull meat and the cheese course.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was drinking more water than wine by the end of the walk (liters of both! ;D)

All in all, these sort of ballades gourmandes are really awesome. Although you should remember to pace yourself!

Toward the end of the day, I caught up with Daniel Roche who has helped to organize the Vignes Toquees and other ballades gourmandes around the region.  He refused to take credit for how well the event ran, but you can tell he’s very pleased!  “Il faisait beau. Il fasait chaud.  Mais on est comme-même dans une région de chaleur et de soleil donc c’est bien qu’il faisait beau et chaud!”

What kind of people come to Vignes Toquees?

I also love how varied the crowd was. French and foreign. Young and old. People came as couples, family outings, or just a fun day with friends. It’s great to see that the event appeals to such a diverse array of people.

Some of the other bloggers’ accounts

Related Posts:

Veraison Pictures

It’s veraison, and lots of winemakers are posting gorgeous photos of their grapes changing purple.

Here is a roundup of my favorite pictures of grapes turning purple around the Languedoc Roussillon.

:)

 

Clos Pacalis

syrah grapes changing colors

grapes changing color at veraison

grapes change colors during veraison

Mas de l’Ecriture

grapes change colors

Related Posts:

Languedoc Roussillon winemaker blogs and twitter accounts updated

I just updated the list of Languedoc Roussillon winemaker blogs and winemaker twitter accounts.

This post simply summarizes the updates. For the complete lists, click on one of the following:

Looks like lots more are popping up and retention/activity on the old sites is staying strong!  It really does make a boy proud. :)

Updates:

Twitter accounts added:

Blogs added:

Facebook pages added:

Related Posts:

WordPress Themes