“Se l’alfabet èra de vin, tot lo monde saupriá legir!” Wine is so integrated into the culture and traditions of Aude that these words would make a fitting motto for our department! You can only agree, as you start exploring this landscape to see vineyard after vineyard, wherever you go!

*An Occitan proverb meaning “If the alphabet were based on wine, everybody would be able to read”.

Immense diversity!

It’s no accident that the department of Aude boasts no less than 8 PDO areas, each with its own specificity thanks to the huge diversity of the landscape and its varying soils, climates and grape varieties. All proof of the excellence and savoir-faire of the local winegrowers.

A discovery of the wines of Aude inevitably begins with the promise of authentic encounters with the down-to-earth people who create them in the heart of these spectacular landscapes…

Château Pennautier

Cabardès

In western Languedoc, on the gentle slopes of the Montagne Noire just a few kilometres from the Citadel of Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi, since the dawn of time, the region of Cabardès has been a very special blend of East and West, North and South, between mountains and valleys, rain clouds and sunshine. Such diversity could only bring forth a wine of enormous character.

Travail dans les vignes ©Pierre Davy-ADT de l'Aude
Malepère, alaigne, vigne

The 18 villages of the Cabardès Appellation all stand on the south side of the Montagne Noire, where two climates come together to nurture a unique combination of Atlantic grape varieties (merlot, cabernet and cot) with their Mediterranean counterparts (syrah and grenache).

The wines of Cabardès typically offer great intensity and depth of colour and are aromatically complex. The nose develops into fragrances of garrigue, spice (syrah), very ripe red fruit (merlot) and notes of liquorice (cabernet). Red wines represent 85% of the production, the other 15% being devoted to rosé.

La Clape

Once an island, La Clape features characteristically high limestone cliffs, canyons and valleys covered with pine forests and thickets of evergreen oak and stretching from Narbonne to the Mediterranean.

This wooded massif has a prestigious past and is a listed area of extraordinary charm and diversity where plant and animal life are protected. Located in the Parc Régional de la Narbonnaise, it is also a Natura 2000 site.

Etang vigne cosperec villemarcheurs
Balade dans les vignes de la Clape

While benefiting from an exceptional environment, the vines also act as a natural firebreak. Certain parcels of the vineyard have even been planted specifically for that purpose. La Clape wine is the emblem of this rich, brightly coloured massif. Bathing in the same light, it too has many a charm waiting to be discovered! The appellation’s production area stretches across 770 hectares dotted with producers, private wine cellars and wine-growing cooperatives, many of which can be visited.

The winegrowers of La Clape choose syrah, mourvèdre and grenache grapes for their red wines, while bourboulenc (malvoisie) has their preference for the whites.

Corbières

The Corbières vineyard covers a vast region in the heart of Aude where it basks in a very favourable climate of plentiful sunshine and dry northerly winds which ensure the vines remain healthy.

Monze, amandier en fleur, vigne
Conilhac corbieres, vigne, pins et cabane

Corbières wines come in red, white and rosé and offer huge variety, reflecting the specific characteristics of each of the eleven different regions where they are produced. Not forgetting the wide diversity of grape varieties used to make them:

Carignan, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Lledoner Pelut, Piquepoul Noir and Terret Noir for the reds. The grape varieties used include a maximum of 50% Carignan, which makes it possible to retain that “Corbières” typicality.
The other varieties help to enhance the quality and complexity of the great wines of Corbières.

The whites are made from: Grenache Blanc, Maccabeu, Bourboulenc (known as Malvoisie in the Corbières region), Marsanne, Roussanne, Vermentino or Rolle, Clairette, Muscat (maximum 10%), Piquepoul and Terret Blanc.

It is worth noting that, in terms of wine production volumes, the Corbières appellation area currently ranks first in Languedoc, and fourth in France.
It’s not difficult to discover the Corbières region, thanks to 5 themed itineraries: the Lakes & Sea Route, the Cathar Sites Route, the Boutenac Wine Route, the Alaric Mountain Route and the Narbonne/Lézignan-Corbières Route. Each of these itineraries can be completed in a day, or explored in stages over several days. What better idea for a weekend excursion, for example !

Corbières-Boutenac

Nestling in the heart of the Corbières massif, the Boutenac area boasts a terroir of the highest quality to be found in Corbières, which explains why it is an appellation in its own right. Arranged around a small limestone massif, this vineyard stretches across ten municipalities between Lézignan-Corbières in the north and Thézan-des-Corbières to the south.

Lézignan-Corbières, randonnée dans les vignes. Crédit : C. Deschamps

Carignan, the iconic grape variety of this appellation, contributes largely to the quality of the blend. It is harvested by hand and the entire grape-berries go into the wine. Depending on the blend, it is completed with varying quantities of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The wines are produced by 3 winegrowers’ cooperatives and 28 private cellars. Corbières-Boutenac wines are powerful reds that are full of warmth.

Château dans les vignes
Au milieu des vignes dans les Corbières ©AOC Fitou

Did you know?
The wines of Fitou, which are always red, were the very first Languedoc wines to be classified under an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (protected designation of origin).

Fitou

Between the Mediterranean Sea and the Corbières Massif, nearly 2,600 hectares are separated into two distinct vineyards with about thirty kilometres between them. They cover nine villages (Cascastel, Caves, Fitou, La Palme, Leucate, Paziols, Treilles, Tuchan and Villeneuve les Corbières) which all invite you to meet the producers and restaurateurs, stay at a wine estate, and of course discover all the local heritage (especially the Cathar Trail and the medieval castles)…

Balade dans les vignes en direction du Château d'Aguilar ©Céline Deschamps-ADT de l'Aude
Tuchan, chateau aguilar, vigne AOC Fitou

In the high-quality red wines, the alcohol content must reach a minimum of 12° proof and the yield per hectare must not exceed 45 hectolitres (the average yield being 32 hl/ha).

The Fitou designation can be used only for wines that have matured in a cellar for at least 5 months to give them warmth and extract the fruity notes from the Grenache grapes. These wines have a solid structure, dense colour and a nose of violet and rosemary.

Limoux

In 1531, in the cellars of the Benedictine abbey of Saint Hilaire, a monk noticed bubbles in the wine he had bottled and corked. Bubbles in Limoux wine ! That is how the first dry sparkling wine came into the world ! Historically speaking, therefore, Blanquette de Limoux was the world’s first ever fizzy wine, appearing nearly a century before the first champagnes were made.

That Blanquette de Limoux sparkle still reminds us that the Crémant appellation achieved its AOC recognition in 1990.

bouteilles de Limoux - Toques et clochers ot limouxin
Limoux, Notre Dame de Marceille, vue extérieure

The different PDO wines of Limoux are made from a subtle marriage of Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin grapes:
– Blanquette: Mauzac (90% minimum), Chenin and Chardonnay.
– Crémant: Chardonnay and Chenin (maximum 90% in total), Mauzac and/or Pinot Noir.
– Limoux (still wine): Mauzac, Chardonnay and Chenin.
– Blanquette “méthode ancestrale”: Mauzac (100%).

Each year on Palm Sunday the great “Toques & Clochers” auction sees Limoux AOC wines sold by the barrel. The proceeds contribute to the renovation of a belltower in one of the villages of the Appellation area. This grand, prestigious event is very festive and highly popular.

Malepère

Located around Montréal to the West of Carcassonne, in a region of limestone hills of varying relief, the Malepère vineyard produces only red and rosé wines which benefit from extremely healthy weather conditions between the temperate oceanic air and the heat of the Mediterranean.

The main grape variety for the red is Merlot Noir, while the rosé is made mostly from Cabernet Franc. These varieties produce powerful wines that are supple and generous with notes of red fruit and vanilla. They are ruby in colour and have an intense nose. The Malepère terroir stretches across more than 500 hectares.

There are in fact 4 Malepère terroirs, each with its own specific characteristics in terms of soil, climate, and grape varieties.

Malepère, alaigne, vigne
Vignoble Minervois
Balade dans les vignes à Félines-Minervois ©Céline Deschamps-ADT de l'Aude

Minervois

Straddling the boundary between Aude and Hérault, these rolling landscapes dotted with ancient villages are perfect for hikers wishing to explore the beautiful countryside between Carcassonne and the outskirts of Narbonne. The vineyard unfurls all the way to this wonder we call the Canal du Midi…

Yes, the region of Minervois has all of this!
Recognised as being one of Europe’s oldest vineyards, this has always been a land of winegrowers, as far back as Greek and Roman times. Minervois offers wines of excellent quality that can be left to age.

Nurtured by the wind, vintage wines in red, rosé and white offer a whole array of flavours and aromas generated by the geological and climatic variations of this terroir which was awarded AOC status in 1985. It is the perfect terroir for Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre.

Many wine estates, private cellars and winegrowers’ cooperatives produce red, rosé, white and muscat wines, all to the delight of connoisseurs and amateurs alike… Don’t hesitate to visit a tasting cellar or a wine estate!