Wine - Cabardès AOC
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The wine - now this is what being in France is all about. Our local brew is not well known in UK compared with the larger appellations in the Languedoc - Minervois, Corbiere and Fitou - but it is in no way inferior. In the tradition of the region, it takes advantage of its unique microclimate to produce the best grape varieties of east and west - from the Rhone, spicy Grenache and Syrah, blended with the smooth flavours of Bordeaux: Cabinet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The name Cabardes is derived from the Lords of Cabaret who held out in Lastours castle against the forces of Simon de Montfort in the 13th century (see history of the Cathars). Wine has been grown on the southern slopes of the Montagnes Noires above Carcassonne since the Romans settled here in the 1st century BC. The dry stony soil and the temperate climate made conditions right for low-yield, high-quality wine production.
Cabardes wines are almost exclusively red and are the only ones produced in the whole of France to have balanced proportions of of the Bordeaux and Rhone grape varieties; indeed it is the only place in the country where the climate and soil permit the cultivation of such a mix. To comply with its AOC status, gained only in 1999, it must contain at least 40% Grenache/Syrah and the same of Cabinet/Merlot. They are generally, dark, complex and rich with ageing potential stretching from 2 to 10 years.
But best of all, our local cooperative caveau - Cote de Trapel - sells its top product, a delicious 13.5% AOC, in 10 litre boxes for the princely sum of 16.95€!
Find out more by going to the official site, http://www.aoc-cabardes.com/, which has an English language version.