Posts tagged: boutenac

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:

Visiting Vineyards in Corbieres – Top 5

I’m really pleased about how many winemakers in the Corbieres are sponsoring and attending VinoCamp Languedoc on March 19th, 2011.  And after tweeting about the appelation’s enthusiasm, Jamie Goode asked “Which would be your top five corbieres producers for punters to visit?”

twitter screenshot of jamie goode asking about corbieres vineyards

I love the question and I think the answer is worth writing up on this blog in more than 140 character and a slightly more searchable format.  A big thanks to Jamie for asking.

Keep in mind that these are not the only domaines in the Corbieres.  They’re not even my personal top 5 since many of my favorite places are more fun for the engaged wine lover and less fun for your average wine drinker.

This is a list of 5 that are perhaps best-suited for your typical “punter”.  British slang which, to me, implies that the visitor is not a wine professional but just a curious person on vacation who enjoys the occasional glass of wine.  And if anybody gets offended that I didn’t put them on the list, they can always just email me.

Top 5 Corbieres Producers to Visit

  • La Voulte Gasparet, Boutenac – Boutenac is one of the grands crus of the Languedoc now, a special subsection of the larger Corbières.  La Voulte Gasparet is a family estate that receives people for tastings with regular opening hours.  You can also peek around their barrel room if you ask nicely.  While you’re in the area, you might also try to drop by Domaine Fontsainte.  These are estates where you’ll taste with the actual winemakers.   Some other famous properties in the area like La Forge (one of Gerard Bertrand’s) don’t open the doors to the general public :-ç  but you can always try to call and arrange a tasting.Château la Voulte Gasparets
    11200 BOUTENAC
    (0)4 68 27 07 86
    chateaulavoulte@wanadoo.fr
  • Chateau Le Bouis, Gruissan – Le Bouis is a gorgeous estate in the northeast of the Corbieres.  You can see La Clape from their vines, but they’re still technically Corbieres.  They’ve got a restaurant, rooms, and lots of concerts and animations during the summer.  Also, proximity to Narbonne and the beach make this an easy destination for people to plan into the itinerary.  I don’t know what the winery tour is like since I just get tend to get distracted by the restaurant and beautiful landscapes.Route Bleue
    11430 Gruissan
    (0)4 68 75 25 25
  • Domaine Baillat, Montlaur – This is probably the most authentic independent winemaker on the list.  It’s hard to pick just one since the Corbieres has literally hundreds and hundreds of independent producers.  But Christian Baillat speaks English, German, French and even Occitan.  He’s a quirky, organic producer and he participates with WWOOFing programs that bring kids in from overseas to learn about winemaking.  You’d best call ahead.31, avenue de Malbec
    11220 Montlaur
    (0)4 68 24 08 05
  • Castelmaure, Embres & Castelmaure – Since this question was inspired by me fawning over the famous cooperative, I would be remiss not to include them.  But this is going to be a gift shop tour.  That means you go into a nice room where they hold tastings (and it will be conveniently close to a cash register).  If you’ve got a group of 10 or more, you can call and make a reservation to visit the actual winery.4, route des canelles
    11360 Embres & Castelmaure
    (0)4 68 45 91 83
  • Mont Tauch, Tuchan – Another popular cooperative, and another gift shop tour.  Again, groups of 10 can call ahead to get a winery tour.  There are interactive displays and videos all around the shop, free tastings, and that ever present cash register.   The strength of these co-op tours is that they’re unintimidating.  You go in and taste.  You don’t have to say anything clever as you sip through their wines.  If your toddler starts to throw a fit, you can always just leave.Les Vignerons Du Mont Tauch
    11350 Tuchan
    (0)4 68 45 41 08

Google Map

corbieres wineries map

Not really a producer, but…

  • Terra Vinea, Portel – You might be thinking this is more than 5 recommendations.  But honestly this last one isn’t a recommendation so much as a mention.  Terra Vinea is a tourist destination devoted to wine.  I cannot recommend it as I have never been.  But here is a promotional video that you can watch.  You will quickly determine whether it is the place for you.

Related Posts:

WordPress Themes