Food & Wine
The cuisine of the Mediterranean, using fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil, is evident in the restaurants, along with fresh vegetables such as aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes and peppers.
Whether it’s the olives and olive oil from the local mill or the chocolate almonds from Narbonne, every town seems to have its own speciality.
Well worth a visit is Oulibo olive mill (just 10 km from La Maison Des Vignes) which produces gold and silver medal winning olive oils which are ideal to take home as a reminder of your time here. As well as producing fantastic oils, you will find their olives hard to resist. This local co-operative was founded in 1942 and is the last oil mill in the department.
Another local speciality is oysters, which are farmed in the many saltwater lagoons dotted along the coast. Perhaps the most famous of these are the oysters from Bouzigues, where the locals have been farming oysters for more than 100 years. As well as oysters, the fishmongers and local markets are teaming with freshly caught seafood, including shellfish, crabs, lobsters, and countless varieties of fish.
In every market you will find several stalls selling locally produced cheeses, especially goats cheeses, a particular speciality of this region. Many of the locals eat their goats cheese with mountain honey, just ask the stallholder for their recommendations and they will be more than pleased to help you.
Restaurants abound in the area and as soon as you think you have found your favourite, you discover another contender.
The vineyards of the Minervois cover 44,478 acres and stretch from the flanks of the Montagne Noir to the Aude Valley. The region is renowned for its fine fruity red wines which are robust and well balanced with a deep rich red colour and they can be kept for five or six years.
The area also produces some excellent white wines and strawberry-coloured rosés that are ideal for drinking in the summer sunshine. These are dry and fruity and should generally be drunk young.
If you would like the perfect wine to accompany your foie gras or dessert, then St-Jean-du-Minervois produces excellent Muscat wines, as does the nearby Rivesaltes area.
There is usually a Chateau or Domaine that offer tastings and tours of their caves within every few kilometres as you drive around the area. Tourouzelle itself has 3 excellent working caves that can be visited and the wines tasted, so there is no need to worry about driving.
The nearby Corbières wine region is larger than Minervois and its reds have a superb body, a fruity, spicy nose and hints of cherry, raspberry and vanilla. Perhaps the best known wine from this region is Fitou, where the alcohol content must be at least 12% and must have been aged in a cellar for at least nine months.
As well as sampling the wines from the village domaines, there is a well signposted wine route that enables you to discover both of these regions and the many domaines offering wine tasting.
The wine region of La Clape is remarkable in that it receives little rain during the year and the vines take their moisture, through their leaves, from the sea mists that envelop the area. This makes for interesting wines and can best be sampled at Domaine de l’Hospitalet, where the price of your meal includes an unlimited wine buffet.
Further afield you can discover the sparkling white wine from Limoux, Blanquette de Limoux, said to be the oldest sparkling wine in the world and pre-dates the more famous region of Champagne.
Whatever the meal or the occasion, there is bound to be a locally produced wine that will be the perfect accompaniment