Now I’ve set the Saint-Chinian scene and explained a bit about the wines in my previous post, I’ll go on to tell you more about the beautiful and very tranquil region of Saint-Chinian and the fabulous Languedoc wine hotel we were so lucky to stay in.
Bearing in mind that the school summer holidays were 2 whole months long and I’ve only just started to recover, to say the view from our first night’s accommodation, the Chateau les Carrasses, brought a smile to my face, is a massive understatement. A little gem of a hotel, hidden away in the Saint-Chinian countryside, only 35km from Beziers Airport, I’m tempted to pop over every weekend. The Chateau les Carrasses is adult and child friendly, has a gorgeous pool with some jawdropping views. There is also an onsite restaurant and terrace and even bikes for all the family to borrow.
Being surrounded by vineyards, Chateau Les Carrasses also makes its own wine, a refreshingly chilled glass of which was gratefully received on the terrace on our arrival. Although those workers amongst us had a jam-packed itinery filled with wine tastings, visits to tasting rooms and sites touristiques du Saint-Chinian, regular guests who fancy being taken out into wine country beyond the adjacent vines, can get a feel for the locality on a Les Carrasses’ Wine Activity Day.
If you prefer to make your own way around, but aren’t sure where to start, there’s the Office du Tourisme du Canal Midi in local village Capestang, a short cycle ride away (although it’s uphill home). The office du tourisme is named after the ancient canal that runs right through the village, stretching to Toulouse in the west, straight across to the Mediterranean near Sete. The tourist office have a summer long schedule running regular wine tastings alongside the Canal du Midi, buddying up with local winemakers who are more than keen to share their wines with willing tasters.
You could also do as we did and grab a hire boat on the Canal du Midi, pick up some wine from the Office du Tourisme, and take a (self-driven) tasting actually ON the Canal itself. This was undoubtedly the most peaceful wine tasting that I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience – I think I may have actually gone into a trance-like state as we pootled along the canal on a little boat, in the warm evening sun, tasting delicious local wine and produce from the surrounding Saint-Chinian area, to the sound of the breeze in the plane trees.
As mesmerised as I was, I did manage to stay awake and took lots of tasting notes before we headed back to the Chateau les Carrasses for dinner. Although most of the best wines in Saint-Chinian are red, the best of the whites can be very tasty indeed. Perhaps the most notable of the wines tasted being this Cuvee Bois Joli from Chateau Coujon, a Grenache Blanc and Rolle (better known as Vermentino) blend which had seen 6-8 months on oak. A crisp and citrussy white with pineapple flavours and a hint of dried coconut went particularly well alongside the tiny local olives known as ‘Lucques’.
After all that hard work, there was only one thing for it, to head back to the Chateau les Carrasses for a slap up dinner in their restaurant and of course, more wine tasting..