Wines of Carcassonne

The Cabardès AOC

by Ryan O’Connell

Copyright © 2010 Ryan O’Connell All rights reserved. ISBN: 1456482823 ISBN-13: 978-1456482824

Fortress walls of the Cité and its surrounding vineyards - Albert Robida 1917

Wines of Cabardès
“Passing out of the two circles of walls, I treated myself, in the most infatuated
manner, to another walk round the Cité. It is certainly this general impression that is most striking--the impression from outside, where the whole place detaches itself at once from the landscape. In the warm southern dusk it looked more than ever like a city in a fairy-tale. To make the thing perfect, a white young moon, in its first quarter, came out and hung just over the dark silhouette. It was hard to come away--to incommode one's self for anything so vulgar as a railway train; I would gladly have spent the evening in revolving round the walls of Carcassonne.” -- Henry James, 1884

Perhaps the simplest way to conceive of the AOC Cabardès is as Henry E. Teitelbaum put it in his May 2007 Wall Street Journal article:
"Cabardès is a tiny collection of villages north of the medieval walled city of Carcassonne."

Or we could think of the Cabardès as France's first appellation where the great grape varieties of both Bordeaux and the Rhone are married together to create rich Mediterranean wines with a cool, freshness about them.

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The area’s unique climatic conditions - exposure to both Atlantic maritime and Mediterranean influences – allows Cabardès wines to blend these two great families of grapes together to create a distinctive assemblage that is expressly forbidden in every other wine region of France.1 The appellation is small. A mere 550 hectares of vines span across eighteen villages. This is a sliver of vines in comparison to Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s 3200 hectares or the 15,000 hectares planted in the Corbières. Indeed, the majority of our wines could be enjoyed over cassoulet within the fortress walls of the Cité de Carcassonne - a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by millions each year. With less than 30 producers, the Cabardès never had enough industrial production to warrant an International marketing campaign. Our small size and unique encepagement have lead to this very interesting area being overlooked and not widely understood. The following is a collection of reference materials and essays that look at the appellation’s links to Carcassonne, our leading wine producers, historic attractions, and some of the internal differences in climate and soils within the area. Hopefully, this text will contribute to the overall awareness of our beautiful and historic wine culture.

“The inhabitants were acquainted with a secret passage by which they could escape from the town; it was a subterranean passage leading from Carcassonne to Cabardès.”
--The Saturday Magazine, 1837

This paper is intended for both visitors exploring the area as well as those from afar who are simply curious to know more. Either way, I hope that reading about our sun-drenched vineyards, our secret underground passage ways, and our well-worn castle walls will inspire you to dream of Carcassonne. Enjoy !! Ryan O'Connell December 2010
O’Vineyards
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire 11620 Villemoustaussou France ryan@ovineyards.com 33 6 30 18 99 10

View of Carcassonne and the foothills of the Pyrenees from O’Vineyards, Villemoustaussou – Photo by Noraa

As of 2003 AOC Limoux Rouge and AOC Malepère, two appellations directly south of Carcassonne, may also blend these grapes. Malepère wines tend to rely on the Atlantic grapes and do not require the blend. Limoux wines, which are predominantly white, only require the blend in their red wines. These two neighbors, along with the Cabardès, form an Atlantic corridor of the Languedoc. The Atlantic Corridor is the only region in France allowing these blends.

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Table of Contents
Brief History .............................................................................................................................................. 5 Terroir ........................................................................................................................................................ 6 Map of Terroir .......................................................................................................................................... 9 Directory of Wineries............................................................................................................................... 10 Domaine O’Vineyards ..................................................................................................................... 10 Domaine de Cabrol .......................................................................................................................... 10 Château Ventenac............................................................................................................................. 11 Château de Brau................................................................................................................................ 11 Château Pennautier........................................................................................................................... 12 Château de Jouclary.......................................................................................................................... 12 Domaine Escourrou......................................................................................................................... 13 Domaine Taluos................................................................................................................................ 13 Château Sescquières ......................................................................................................................... 14 Font Juvenal ...................................................................................................................................... 14 Domaine de Cazaban ....................................................................................................................... 14 Domaine Ventaillole......................................................................................................................... 15 Château Salitis ................................................................................................................................... 15 La Bastide Rougepeyre..................................................................................................................... 15 Château Rayssac................................................................................................................................ 16 Château Peche Rosié ........................................................................................................................ 16 Château de Donjon .......................................................................................................................... 16 Château Parazols-Bertrou................................................................................................................ 16 Château Auzias- Paretlongue .......................................................................................................... 17 Château Bournonville....................................................................................................................... 17 Domaine Loupia ............................................................................................................................... 17 Others................................................................................................................................................. 18 My Personal Take ..................................................................................................................................... 19 Further Reading ........................................................................................................................................ 23 Thanks and Attribution ........................................................................................................................... 24

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Brief History
The Cabardès name first appears in 11th Century texts in reference to the fiefdom of the Lords of Cabaret, north of Carcassonne. While the area produced wines long before that, it was in the medieval period that the Cabardès came to be seen as a parish of Carcassonne. “Alors, selon Catel, furent batis le château de Carcassonne, et dans le Cabardès quelques Over the years, the Lords of Cabaret built an forteresses qui borderent la Septimanie pour impressive group of fortifications in the village la défendre.” of Lastours. The ruins of their four greatest --Etude sur l’histoire de Bordeaux, 1835 castles still stand on the hills overlooking Lastours today. The area’s primary income in the medieval period was its rich mineral deposits, namely iron mines in the northern Cabardès. These ores made the Cabardès a good ally to the trading town of Carcassonne. You can find many references to the Cabardès and the fortifications in Lastours in the few texts still in existence recounting the Catholic Church’s crusade against the Cathare Knights. In the memoires of Peter of Vaux de Cernay, he recounts how God protected the French Catholics who had descended on the Cabardès to tear out its vines during a siege: “Il advint un jour auprès de Cabaret un miracle que nous croyons devoir rapporter. Les pélerins venus de France arrachaient les vignes de Cabaret, suivant l'ordre du comte, lorsqu'un des ennemis, lançant d'un jet de baliste une flèche contre l'un des nôtres, le frappa violemment à la poitrine dans l'endroit où était placé le signe de la croix.”2 And other passages brag about how warriors would harvest grapes right under the nose of their enemies: “Et même que nos fantassins vendangeaient chaque jour, car c’était le temps des vendanges, les vignes plantées près de l’armée ennemie, sous ses yeux et a son grand regret.”3 In short, the grapevine is interwoven in the long, long history of the Cabardès.

Collection des mémoires relatifs à l’histoire de France: depuis la fondation de la monarchie française jusqu’au 13eme siècle. Guizot, François M. 1824. mémoires de Peter of Vaux de Cernay. p. 90 3 Ibid. p. 164

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Terroir
The Mediterranean coast of France is a region with an immense geological diversity, sheared apart and cleaved together by millennia of tectonic plate movements. And the Cabardès sits at the fringe of the Mediterranean basin with some of the most “Alors, selon Catel, furent batis le château de diverse geology of all, where quaternary terraces Carcassonne, et dans le Cabardès quelques have run up against the siliceous formations of forteresses qui borderent la Septimanie pour La Montagne Noire. la défendre.” The flora is dominated by the garrigue and --Etude sur l’histoire de Bordeaux, 1835 cypress trees, small thick underbrush that can survive the extreme wind and sun. The geology of the area is overall defined by deep clay with limestone or chalk on the surface. However, despite the Cabardès’ small “Peu de pluies au sud de la Montagne [Noire], size, the unique geology and climate of sur le Cabardès ajusté, par son extrémité sud, the area create four relatively distinct aux très lumineuses plaines du Carcassés ou zones within the appellation. pays de Carcassonne, qui n’est qu’un vignoble immense où le vert des pampres attendrit une Haut Cabardès terre grise” The simplest zone to identify is the Haut --Onésime Reclus, 1899, Le plus beau royaume sous le ciel Cabardès. The villages of the Haut Cabardès are the farthest north in the appellation and the closest to La Montagne Noire. They benefit from higher elevation and later harvests. While the entire Cabardès is defined by clay and limestone, vineyards in the Haut Cabardès are often also littered with deposits of slate and gneiss.4 In geological terms, the Haut Cabardès resembles parts of the Minervois which also sit on the south-facing slopes of La Montagne Noire. Although the Cabardès weather will be much cooler and there will be slightly more rain in the winter.

Les Châteaux de Lastours in The Haut Cabardès, Lastours – Photo by Kurtsik

I should stress that these groupings are not definitive. Because of the tumultuous geological history of the Cabardès, the soil composition of our vineyards can be downright confounding. For example, I kept finding fossilized sea shells mixed in with the more standard mountain stones while visiting Domaine de Cabrol’s highest parcels above Aragon in what I consider to be the Haut Cabardès (300+ meters above sea level).
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The Calcaires: Marl-Cabardès and Redstone-Cabardès
As you move south and west, the land drops and sees more rain during the winter. While winter rains have a minimal effect on each harvest, they have a large effect over time on the soil composition. Clay expands and contracts with rainfall and evaporation. This expansion and contraction breaks down the sedimentary rocks in the soil (namely limestone) into smaller pieces.

Redstone-Cabardès of Château Sesquières, route de Montolieu

The area south of the Haut Cabardès prominently features soils that span between calcerous soil and red clay. The common wisdom amongst the winemakers of the Cabardès says that Ventenac’s terroir is a shallower, chalky soil closer to marl, half limestone and half clay, while the deeper soils around Montolieu lean more toward red clay. That said, you can definitely find a mixture of limestone, marl and clay on the slopes in both of these areas, but the features that we as winemakers try to accentuate in our wines go a long way toward defining the typicity of our terroir. So, on the coteaux around Montolieu, you’ll find winemakers who tend to focus on red clay. On the coteaux around Ventenac, you’ll find winemakers who tend to fixate on the chalky limestone qualities of their terroir. Furthermore, Ventenac and the area I’m calling MarlCabardès has a slightly more Mediterranean climate characterized by warmer springs, hotter summers and Marl Cabardès of Domaine Taluos, Ventenac less rainfall. Montolieu and the area I’m describing as Redstone-Cabardès is going to be a little more Atlantic in its climate, experiencing cooler spring temperatures, slightly more winter rains, but having lower relative humidity in the spring and summer. Some winemakers find that the Marl-Cabardès is prone to creating more Mediterranean-styled wines while Redstone-Cabardès offers Atlantic-styled wines. Note that winemakers in both areas can and must grow both families of varietals. However the Syrahs and Grenaches of the Redstone-Cabardès (western and more atlantic) tend to have an uncanny freshness while the Merlots and Cabernets of the Marl-Cabardès are unusually rich and ripe. When it comes time to blend, the characteristics of one family of grapes can easily get the upper hand.

Canal du Midi-Cabardès
The last group of villages is the farthest south in the appellation and it follows the path of the Canal du Midi, spanning from Alzonne in the west to Villedubert in the east. This is the longest of the swaths I’m describing and it might be the most eclectic, although I should remind you that I am only describing a stretch of land that is about 15 miles long. The soil in the Canal du Midi-Cabardès is also limestone-rich although some parcels appear to be pure mudstone because the limestone has been completely dissolved into the clay. Even the muddiest soils will have very high levels of limestone and they keep cooler than typical mudstone. It’s interesting to note the number of people who are beginning to cultivate truffles in the area since the land that is slightly too humid for good vineyards is often ideal for the truffles that grow in the roots of oak trees.
Canal du Midi-Cabardès of O’Vineyards, Villemoustaussou

Like in the Marl- and Redstone-Cabardès, the vineyards further west tend to have slightly more Atlantic climate (cooler springs, rainy winters) while the eastern vineyards feature more Mediterranean climate (warmer springs, longer summers). Finally, it’s worth mentioning that many estates (like my own) sit near the boundary between two of these climactic zones. It’s not unusual for a vineyard to have a parcel dominated by limestone just beside a parcel that looks like pure mudstone. And vintages can be more Atlantic-influenced or more Mediterranean. Don’t worry about memorizing all this information and isolating it to the zones I’ve described. This section is more to familiarize you with our climactic influences and the four distinct types of land that appear in the Cabardès so that you may recognize traces of each terroir as you taste our wines or visit our vineyards.

Vines beside le premier pont du Canal du Midi, Paraza – photo by Jean Luc RENAUT

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Terroir Map – interactive online map: http://bit.ly/cabardes

Redstone-Cabardès : 1 Sesquieres 2 Pech Rosié Haut Cabardès : 3 Bancalis 4 Cabrol 5 Font Juvenal Marlstone-Cabardès : 6 Caunettes Hautes 7 Mourviels 8 Bournonville 9 Escourrou (Regalona) 10 Ventenac (Maurel) 11 Ventaillole 12 Loupia

Marlstone-Cabardès continued 13 La Bastide: 14 Cazaban 15 Salitis 16 Rayssac 17 Jouclary 18 Parazols Canal du Midi-Cabardès : 19 Cotes du Trapel 20 O’Vineyards 21 Brau 22 Pennautier 23 Auzias 24 Rivals 25 La Mijeanne

Note : Some of the wineries are not shown on the map despite their ability to produce excellent wines. Their locations far from their vines in the aire (outskirts) of the Cabardès create a confusing image. Also note that the empty portions of the map are often cultivated by cooperative winemakers. Future editions will try to map these grapegrowers too, as I have done with Bancalis and Rivals. Also, two new producers are entering the scene as I write this document, Taluos near Ventenac and Lalande near Pennautier.

Winery Directory
Domaine O’Vineyards www.ovineyards.com N: 43°259622 E: 2°340387 885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire 11620 Villemoustaussou 33 (0)6 30 18 99 10 ryan@ovineyards.com Our Cabardès: • Proprietor’s Reserve • Les Américains The O’Connell family only arrived in the Cabardès in 2005, but they are proud of their efforts in the exploration of this rich and intricate terroir. The family lives on the 15 hectares vineyard and welcomes guests to come and taste in the winery which is dug into the southfacing slope of La Montagne Noire. O’Vineyards is also notable for its online efforts such as www.love-that-languedoc.com and this very e-book.
O’Vineyards Merlot, Villemoustaussou

Domaine de Cabrol www.domainedecabrol.fr N: 43°3103630 E: 2°3308321 11600 Aragon 33 (0)4 68 77 19 06 cc@domainedecabrol.fr Their Cabardès: • Vent d’Est • Vent d’Ouest • Réquieu • La Dérive • Blue Note Claude Carayol, former President of the Cabardès, owns and operates the Domaine de Cabrol in the foothills above Aragon. This is the northern-most winery in the Cabardès, and it features some of the highest parcels in the appellation (~300 meters above sea level). I previously mentioned these limestone soils are still littered with fossilized mollusks and other seashells, a reminder of the marine origin of the limestone.
Domaine de Cabrol, 300 m above sea level 10/24

Château Ventenac

Château Ventenac http://vignoblesalainmaurel.net/ N: 43°266238 E: 2°282152 1 place du Château 11610 Ventenac Cabardès 33 (0) 4 68 24 93 42 accueil@vignoblesalainmaurel.fr Their Cabardès: • Mas de Ventenac • Château Ventenac • Ventenac Cabardès Ventenac, along with Pennautier, is one of the largest producer of Cabardès, but a larger portion of the Ventenac range is devoted to rosé wine.5 Château Ventenac has a very modern and youthful image, creating an interesting foil to the Pennautier brand that is steeped in local history. Their cultivation is certified by TerraVitis as reasoned agriculture. Mas de Ventenac and Château Ventenac are their single-estate wines and come from densely planted parcels (6500 plants/hectare).

Château de Brau http://chateaudebrau.over-blog.com/ N: 43° 257784 E: 2°377081 11620 Villemoustaussou 33 (0)4 68723192 chateaudebrau@aliceadsl.fr Their Cabardès : • Le Suc • Cuvée Exquise • Cuvée Château Château de Brau is on the other side of Villemoustaussou from me. They’ve been on their 40 hectares property for decades producing organic wines since before the certification existed in Europe. They have a whopping 17 different wines, 3 of which are Cabardès reds. Many of these wines are fabulous, and their range is large enough to offer something for every market imaginable.
Château de Brau, Villemoustaussou

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Astute readers who already know something about the Cabardès will note that I have omitted rosé wine from this ebook. I am not knowledgeable on Cabardès rosé production and so it does not feature in this edition of the book.

Château Pennautier www.lorgeril.com N: 43°244304 E: 2°317294 BP4 11610 Pennautier 33 (0)4 68 72 65 29 contact@lorgeril.com Their Cabardès: • L’Esprit de Pennautier • Château de Pennautier

Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril are the largest producers of Cabardès wine. The de Lorgeril family produces wines in Cabardès, St Chinian, Faugeres, Minervois, Minervois la Liviniere, and Cotes du Roussillon Villages. But the heart of Lorgeril wines is the beautiful Château Pennautier located in the Cabardès. Sometimes called the “Versailles of the south”, the Château welcomes guests to its restaurant, tasting room and wine bar.
Château Pennautier

Château de Jouclary www.chateaujouclary.over-blog.com/ N: 43°273086 E: 2°370659 Route de Villegailhenc D35 11600 Conques sur Orbiel 33 (0)4 68 77 10 02
chateau.jouclary@orange.fr

Château de Jouclary, Villegailhenc

Their Cabardès: • Tradition • Les Amandiers • Cuvée Guillaume de Jouclary

Robert Gianesini is not only the current President of the Cabardès appellation; he was one of the five founding members. He’s just a bit north of us, and we often compare notes on treatments and cultivation at the end of the season. Young Pascal Gianesini is assuming more and more responsibility at the estate and is becoming the International face of Château de Jouclary.

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Domaine Escourrou regalona.fr N: 43°256956 E: 2°292023 06 Avenue de La Viale 11610 Ventenac-Cabardès 33 (0)4 68 24 92 30 Their Cabardès: • La Régalona

Above: Young graft at Domaine Escourrou
Left: Low Grenahce at Domaine Escourrou

As an ambitious young man, Arnaud Escourrou would work half the year on his family’s Domaine Escourrou and the other half of the year in South American estates. Nowadays, Arnaud’s domaine has become synonymous with his top cuvee, La Regalona. And he’s started up his own estate in Chile so there is a Regalona in each hemisphere. Arnaud also engages in a bit of experimentation like planting some parcels more densely (6500 plants/hectare). Domaine Taluos Ventenac Cabardès 06 86 49 84 32 domaine.taluos@gmail.com Their Cabardès: • Petit Taluos • Taluos The newest addition to the Cabardès winemakers, Eric Soulat has taken over 2 and some hectares outside of Ventenac. I have not tasted any of the 2009’s yet, but the cultivation and vinification are handled by Arnaud Escourrou mentioned above, and I’m certain they will be interesting.

Domaine Taluos near Ventenac-Cabardès

Château Sesquières N: 43°288642 E: 2°188025 Route de Montolieu 11170 Alzonne 04 68 76 00 12 lagouttegerard@wanadoo.fr Their Cabardès: • Prestige • Le Chêne The winery is in an old stables from the 1800’s and the vines belonged to the Abbey of Longueville in the 1700’s. Sesquières is the farthest west independent producer in the Cabardès.

Marl-Cabardès of Château Sesquières

Prieuré du Font Juvenal http://www.font-juvenal.com N: 43°297854 E: 2°342534 11600 Conques sur Orbiel Tél : 04 68 79 15 55 contact@font-juvenal.com Their Cabardès: • Le Sauvage • L'Asphodèle • Jeanne
Font Juvenal’s rows curve along the hillside above Aragon

Georges and Colette Casadesus own and operate Pépinières Casadesus, a successful plant nursery. They came to the Cabardès five or six years before my family with the goal of making exceptional wines in the heights of the Haut Cabardès. The couple is very devoted to the wine salon circuit so I recommend contacting them long ahead of time to be sure of a guided visit of their sprawling hilltop estate. Domaine de Cazaban www.domainedecazaban.com/ N: 43°285485 E: 2°353714 11600 Villegailhenc 33 (0)4 68 72 11 63 clement.mengus@orange.fr Their Cabardès: • Demoiselle Claire • Domaine de Cazaban Clément and Claire Mingus are some of the most recently installed winemakers in the Cabardès. They took over a mere 5 hectares of Merlot and Syrah, and built an impressive winery and gites around the vines which are now organic-certified.
14/24 Harvest at Domaine Cazaban

Château Ventaillole www.domaine-ventaillole.fr N: 43°280147 E: 2°293728 11610 Ventenac Cabardès curbieres.bio@gmail.com Their Cabardès: • Château Ventaillole Château Ventaillole is one of the few wineries within the appellation that still uses Fer Servadou, a varietal more common to the Gaillac region. The Château is also notable for its homemade labels which are made out of recycled grape stems.

A horse works the land at Château Ventaillole

Château Salitis No website N: 43°284262 E: 2°373817 04 68 77 16 10 Their Cabardès: • Cuvée des Dieux • Cuvée Premium • Cuvée Rouge Cabardès

The owners of Château Salitis, Anne Marandon-Maurel and Fréderic Maurel, tend to about a hundred hectares of vines on relatively calcerous soil. Fréderic is a journalist for the local paper dealing with agriculture and he seems very involved in the CIVL, the regional Interprofessional group. They also have a Viognier that’s worth mentioning (although there are no white Cabardès).

Château la Bastide Rougepeyre http://www.rougepeyre.com/ N: 43°273638 E: 2°327449 11610 ¨Pennautier 04 68 72 51 91 Their Cabardès: • Classique Rouge • Prestige Rouge • L’Esprit Rouge

The old fortified Bastide, Pennautier

La Bastide is an old fortified farm that used to be a fief or subject of the Lords of Cabaret. It is now owned by Dominique and Christiane de Lorgeril (sibling of the de Lorgeril that owns and operates Château Pennautier).

Château Rayssac www.chateau-rayssac.com N: 43°286861 E: 2°389878 11600 Conques sur Orbiel 04 68 71 62 78 chateau.rayssac@orange.fr Their Cabardès: • Château Rayssac Cabardès Château Rayssac’s 27 hectares of vines have just changed hands in 2010. Marc Delsuc, the new owner, says the property will maintain its Cabardès cuvees without major alterations.
Château Rayssac

Château Pech Rosié www.domainedeshoms.com/ SCEA Domaine du Petit Paradis 11170 Montolieu 04 68 78 10 51 jmdecrozals@free.fr Their Cabardès : • Château Pech Rosié Cabardès

Although my favorite wines from Jean-Marc de Crozals belong to Domaine des Homs, his Minervois estate, the Château Pech Rosié Cabardès has a certain lightness in the way it presents its fruit which I don’t get from the deeper wines in his Minervois collection. An interesting example of how a winemaker crafts two different cuvees from two different terroirs. And all of them are worth a taste.

This is another producer who concentrates on Minervois, but also makes interesting Cabardès wines. Winemakers who span across two appellations often have a more instinctive appreciation for the qualities that make the AOC unique from its neighbors. Donjon’s vines are in the eastern more Mediterranean-influenced Cabardès, but the winemaker still notes that they are a much more oceanic climate than his Minervois.

Château du Donjon www.chateau-du-donjon.com Tél : 04 68 77 18 33 Their Cabardès: • L’Autre

Château Parazols-Bertrou http://parazols-bertrou.com/ 11600 Bagnoles 04 68 77 06 46 Their Cabardès: • Ni Ange Ni Demon

Jean Marie Bertrou is yet another Minervois producer, but I think he focuses on Cabardès. He has a very popular Cabardès wine called Ni Ange Ni Demon, and is engaged in a legal battle to keep that wine label after receiving an injunction from Givenchy who have a trademark for their “Ange ou Demon” perfumes.

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Château Auzias-Paretlongue http://www.auzias.fr/ N: 43°236293 E: 2°332706 11610 Pennautier 04 68 47 28 28 auzias@auzias.fr Their Cabardès: • Cuvée Petits Messieurs The Abbaye de Paretlongui is cited in 12th Century texts and the lands around the abbey have been producing wine for about that long. Château Paretlongue now hyphenates its name to include Auzias, the founder of Le Petit Futé, a popular series of French-language guide books. They also have a twin vineyard in China called Château Reifeng Auzias Shandong. They’re definitely one of the more adventurous estates in the appellation, often tapping into markets in Russia and China. They’re also one of the larger properties working on 70 hectares planted.

Château Auzias’ soil ranges from redstone (above) to more calcerous (right)

Château Bournonville www.chateaubournonville.com N: 43°270128 E: 2°265801 Caunettes Basses 11170 Moussoulens 04 68 24 86 74 gilles.lubiato@gmail.com

Their Cabardès: • Nova Stella • Inoubliable • Violine An old 1930s winery partially built out of the Ventenac limestone that characterizes the region’s soil

Domaine Loupia www.domaineloupia.com N: 43°264675 E: 2°30155 11610 Pennautier 04 68 24 91 77 domaineloupia@orange.fr Their Cabardès : • Cabardès Domaine • Cabardès Tradition • Cabardès Hautes Pierres

Domaine Loupia

Nathalie & Philippe Pons oversee this property of 10 and a half hectares. They have been working organically since 1974! They also help to organize the Cabardieses, an annual piano concert in the vineyards of Cabardès.

Estates not mentioned in this index:
Domaine Guilhem Barré I just discovered this estate online while researching a topic totally unrelated to the Cabardes. I don’t know anything about them, but will be in contact soon. Château Lalande Lalande is a recently approved Cabardès producer who I believe just had some of his vines classified by the INAO. I’m not sure what their Cabardès range will be like. Château la Mijeanne This estate is in succession after a loss in the family. Château Mourviels I think this is an independent producer who manages to sell virtually all their wine by export. They don’t participate much in the local meetings, so I don’t know their product. But they are clearly doing a good thing for the Cabardès by getting bottles of wine with the appellation name into foreign markets. Domaine de Rivals This is a family of cooperative grape growers who I see more and more of lately. I think they intend to start bottling a small amount of Cabardès in their own winery. Château de Caunettes This is a beautiful property that belongs to the de Lorgeril family of Château Pennautier. The wine is best found by contacting Château Pennautier. Caunettes Hautes I don’t know much about Caunettes Hautes. I think this is a grape grower who doesn’t have his own bottles. But I’ll continue to pursue this for future editions.

Our cooperatives
Future editions will also endeavor to include more information on our cooperative growers. They weren’t included in this first edition because it is a lot of work to track down individual growers and they actually produce a relatively small amount of Cabardès.

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My Personal Take
Carcassonne is a Frontier An incredible number of cultures have drawn a line on their maps crossing through this area. Even before the citadel’s medieval fortifications were built, the area around Carcassonne had already been a boundary for the Romans, the Francs, the Visigoths, the Catalan, and many, many more. Carcassonne’s history, its culture, and its wines are defined by the long, persistent exchange between all the different peoples who have treated this place as a frontier. Carcassonne is the boundary between two lands. Any exploration of the wines of Carcassonne must take this characteristic into account, for this boundary goes beyond politics. Different geological formations and climactic zones also converge around Carcassonne. Every time I watch the weather report, it seems that even the skies have split above us, like a fairy tale where the eastern Aquitaine winds and the warm Mediterranean weather, politely agreed to meet over La Cité and my vineyard. Duality is the backbone of Carcassonne. So as I share my thoughts, I’ll propose a few metaphors to define the wines of Carcassonne. And I don’t want you to take any single metaphor as a definitive answer. I hope that you’ll make room in your mind for all of them and let the various descriptions mingle and exchange parts. And somewhere in these pages, I hope you feel the growing urge to discover the wines for yourself. Because that is the enchanting power of Carcassonne. It draws people in from all around the world and it changes them.

La Cité de Carcassonne seen from a nearby vineyard – Photo by Bernard Mestre for IGP Cité de Carcassonne

Carcassonne is the end of the Mediterranean Riding the train from the Mediterranean coast to Carcassonne, you will find vines as far as you can see. The rich diversity of rocky soils provides a wonderful landscape of scrubland, grape vines and olive trees. You’ll occasionally see deciduous plants like the Plane trees that line the Canal du Midi, but for the most part, the sun-drenched stones of the Mediterranean fields are reserved for plants like grape vines that can thrive in soils that could never foster corn or wheat. Then a funny thing happens after you leave the area around Carcassonne. The soil starts to change, and somewhere between Carcassonne and Bram, the vines winnow out to be replaced by rich fields full of crops that like a more fertile soil than vines and olive trees require. And I’m not the first American to make this remark. In 1787 Thomas Jefferson cruised along the Canal du Midi and noted the shift between Carcassonne and Castelnaudary where the soil became richer and was used more for corn than vines.

So what does it mean to be Mediterranean? It means that our wine culture is deeply rooted in Mediterranean traditions. Old Grenache, Cinsaut, Mourvedre, Carignan, and Syrah grow in short, uneven rows on the elevated plateaus overlooking la Cité de Carcassonne. With these Mediterranean varietals, we craft wines with richness, spice, and ripeness that are unmistakably produced in a warm, Mediterranean climate. We recognize basic similarities with terroirs of the Rhone and small vineyards that stipple the coastline of the Languedoc-Roussillon originally planted by the Ancient Greeks. Given this rich history, it would be absurd to talk about the wines of Carcassonne without referencing this awe-inspiring cultural heritage which clearly influences our winemaking. Carcassonne is the beginning of the Aquitaine From another perspective, the wines of Carcassonne are the beginning of the Aquitaine, home of austere Bordeaux wines. Admittedly, there is an entire region (the Midi-Pyrénées) in between the Languedoc-Roussillon and the Aquitaine, but today’s definition of the Midi was designed by politicians and not winemakers. As recently as 1883, descriptions of the Carcassez (a specific area surrounding Carcassonne) describe it as “the part of the Aquitaine that resides in the Mediterranean basin.” 6 And as Teitelbaum reminds us in his Wall Street Journal article, “by road, the wine-producing areas of Languedoc and Bordeaux are separated by no more than a few hours drive." Bordeaux is stylistically and climatologically much closer to the wines of Carcassonne than any other appellation I’ve tasted in France. They’re far from identical, but there’s an undeniable correlation Compared to the rest of the Mediterranean basin, our winters tend to be wetter, our springs a little cooler, and our summers are a little drier. We have cooler nights and drier Atlantic winds like the Vent Cers which distinguish us significantly from the bulk of the Mediterranean basin. While we share the Languedoc’s sunshine and its soil, we are not subject to its warm humid nights. And even in years like 2010 which showed a surprising prevalence of the more humid Vent Marin in my area, we still reach phenolic maturity at slightly lower sugar levels. The complaint of many winemakers in the Mediterranean is that the region has trouble getting grapes like Merlot to real ripeness (phenolic presentation) until they’re showing very high potential alcohol levels. However, thanks to the cool nights vines around Carcassonne don’t ripen quite as quickly toward the end of summer. That said, we are not truly Aquitaine either. Vines still do get a lot of sunshine and refreshing winds won’t totally halt the effects of the summer sun. Instead the winds and sun find equilibrium. We really have a unique combination of climate, altitude, and hydrometry that is at once not totally Languedoc nor typically Bordeaux. Carcassonne is the Wild Wild West Carcassonne and its surrounding Carcassez7 is sort of the last stop before leaving the vinegrowing part of the Mediterranean. It is the Wild West of southern French wines: beautiful, untamed and--at times--lawless.

6

“C’est la partie de l’Aquitaine qui appartient, par l’Aude au bassin hydrographique de la Méditerranée.” Société Ramond, Bagneres de Bigorre. 1883. Explorations pyrénéenes : Ascensions et recherches scientifiques, archéologiques et historiques volume 18-19
7

I’m bringing Carcassez back. It’s an old term to describe the parish around Carcassonne (based on who tithed to the bishop in Carcassonne) and it fell out of use to be replaced with cantons, agglomerations, departments, etc. 20/24

This is one of the more fanciful metaphors I’ll force you to read, but I think there’s some real sense to it. When I say that the wines of Carcassonne feel a little bit lawless, I mean that we have a sort of reckless disregard for the social conventions of Old World winemakers. For one thing, we include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in a Mediterranean Appellation d’Origine. Basically, that just isn’t done. The Languedoc produces Grenache and other old Mediterranean varietals, and prestigious winemakers in the region tend to scoff at the idea of planting “Bordeaux varietals” in such a warm climate with very little annual rainfall. Hopefully, by now I’ve convinced you that we’ve got our reasoning. But the very fact that we embrace these varietals makes us seem a little like the wild and independent protagonists of spaghetti westerns. Furthermore, my Appellation actually mandates us to blend Atlantic varietals like Merlot and Cab with Mediterranean varietals like Syrah and Grenache. Cats and dogs living together! This sort of blend is widely found on International markets but I think only two appellations in all of France actually permit it. So again, we do things which can seem slightly crazy to the rest of the established Old World of winemaking. And finally, Carcassonne is the Wild West because there is an amazing opportunity out here. Like our romanticized images of the Gold Rush, the area around Carcassonne offers a vast reservoir of untapped potential. The area hasn’t been developed in the same way as the small crus close to the coast like La Clape, La Liviniere, and the various sub appellations of the Coteaux du Languedoc. There is a lot of work to be done here and you can still make your name if you’re willing to work tirelessly and risk everything. That’s a cowboy trope, right?

Carcassonne is a castle For many people, Carcassonne is defined by la Cité de Carcassonne. Millions come to visit every year. Each year, la Cité and le Mont St. Michel compete over which site is the most visited town in France outside of Paris. And with good reason! La Cité de Carcassonne is not just a building where you park and go inside. It is a monument that can be seem from miles and miles around in every direction. Hundreds of people actually live inside those medieval ramparts. Every morning, the streets are buzzing with deliveries of

wine, charcuterie, bread, and all the products needed to maintain the small village that exists within its walls. It is the fanciful fairy tale that inspired Walt Disney’s castles, Snow White’s Castle in particular. And it is simultaneously a very real and immutable façade that looks the same today as it did when Henry James photographed it over a century ago. And so it seems natural that the wines of Carcassonne would be defined by the castle. At one point that was literally the definition! Not long ago, the vineyards producing “Vins de Pays des Coteaux de la Cité de Carcassonne” had to be able to see the Cité from the estate. The definition has since lost some romance as it is now a simple list of villages that touch the border of Carcassonne, but almost all of our producers still have a view on those fantastic ramparts! And while this requirement seems quaint at first, I think it’s a large part of what we are. The entire production of our wines could be consumed over cassoulet within those Cité walls. And somewhere in the back of my mind I think that the local winemakers have often been so busy defending the ramparts that they never took the time to defend their reputation. Our wines are equal to those ramparts and I hope you’ll agree to discover them all at once should you ever visit the south of France. Carcassonne is an exploration Perhaps more than all things, Carcassonne is an exploration. While every sip of our wines and each glance at those castle walls feels like it could last forever, I know deep down that this is a region that is constantly growing and building. Nothing happens overnight. The castle, the Canal, the Ville Basse, the people, the culture, and all the rest took millennia to get where they are today. And every year, new stories will take place in Carcassonne: first loves, tragic losses, legendary wines… In many ways, I’m projecting onto the castle. As a young winemaker in an exciting region, I hope that every year brings new lessons and new chapters in the story of my wine and the story of my life. And Carcassonne is the most beautiful setting I could have chosen for these stories. May we explore Carcassonne, its wines and its walls, for generations to come!

Thanks for reading!!
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Further Reading
INAO Cabardès Rules Décret du 12 février 1999 relatif à l'appellation d'origine contrôlée « Cabardès » - J.O n° 39 du 16 Février 1999 http://www.inao.gouv.fr/public/produits/showTexte.php?id_txt=402 Décret n° 2009-1338 du 28 octobre 2009 relatif aux appellations d'origine contrôlées « Collioure », « Fitou », « Côtes du Roussillon », « Côtes du Roussillon Villages », « Malepère », « Cabardès », « Clairette de Bellegarde » et « Clairette du Languedoc » et « Saint-Chinian » NOR: AGRT0919706D http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000021214105&dat eTexte=vig#LEGIARTI000021231261 Websites Vins Cité de Carcassonne official website http://www.vins-citedecarcassonne.com/ Cabardes website http://cabardes.free.fr/

These reference works and guides include information about the appellation along with general information about weather, geology, and how everything relates to wine (concepts that I sort of glossed over in this text). Auzias, Decroix, Tarbouriech, & Finch. Le Petit Futé Aude 2010 Nouvelles Editions de l'Université ISBN-10: 274692434X Jefford, Andrew. The New France. 2002. MITCH. ISBN 1-84000-410-X Joseph, Robert. French Wines, 2005. Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 1-4053-1212-2 Johnson, Hugh; Robinson, Jancis (2007). The World Atlas of Wine (6th edition ed.). ISBN 1845333012. Robinson, Jancis, ed (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd edition ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198609906 Teitelbaum, Henry E. In France's Cabardès, Bordeaux meets Languedoc May 25, 2007 The Wall Street Journal Europe

Thanks & Attribution
Special thanks to all of the winemakers in the AOC Cabardes and IGP Carcassonne for cooperating with me as I stumbled through this first book. Unless explicitly stated in the caption, all photos were contributed by the winemakers, ODG Cabardes, or le Syndicat des Vins de la Cité de Carcassonne IGP. This book would be impossible without your friendship. And the biggest thanks to Rob D from La Peira. He convinced me that I was the person who could write this book in the first place. I guess the next one should be on Terrasses du Larzac.

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