I’m often asked how I create my vineyard tours – how do I choose which vineyards to visit, which routes to take and where to eat? Well I follow my instincts! Once I have chosen a region or district I set about discovering it and usually spend a number of days creating a one day tour. I start by studying a map of the area – I try to get a feel for the place and then I set off to see what I can unearth. Yesterday was just such a day. I headed for the Corbières region of the Languedoc-Roussillon which I know fairly well as I have been running tours there for over 5 years but it is a massive area divided into 11 terroirs (love that French word meaning ‘sense of place’). I wanted to create a new tour as I often have returning clients and they and I enjoy variety. Creating new tours is possibly one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. My tours have a kind of formula – 2 fabulous vineyards each one very different to the other, stunning scenery with ‘off the beaten track’ roads, a beautiful place to visit such as a pretty village, an abbey, castle or vineyard walk, local produce such as honey, chèvre, olive oil and of course that all important lunch. Timing is crucial so once I have found the places I then check how long it takes to drive from one to the other – which order works best and how long does it all take?
Yesterday I found a wonderful new winery to add to my collection – Domaine Serres Mazard located in the very pretty village of Talairan. I had been driving along one of the roads that leads out of Lagrasse (yet another village not to miss) when I came across a sign displaying ‘Le Sentier des Orchidées’. I stopped and to see what it was all about and discovered that it is a walk across the garrigue and amongst the vines where you will find various orchids and other interesting plant life. It has been created by the school children of local villages and is set on the land of the family Mazard who are the owners of Domaine Serres Mazard. This then lead me to find the domaine and taste the wines. I entered the tasting room and was given a very friendly welcomed by Monsieur Mazard who was entertaining about 6 people who were tasting his wines and having a wonderful time. His wines are excellent, very expressive and full of fruit and range from simple to complex. He is an enthusiastic and passionate wine maker and his wines have a similar personality and I am looking forward to my first visit with clients this coming Saturday.
So my new Corbières tour is ready to go and includes Domaine Serres Mazard and the Sentier des Orchidées walk where afterwards we shall enjoy a lavish picnic made from local and seasonal produce. We will then head for the village of Lagrasse to stroll around the tiny streets, see the ancient market place and the abbey before heading to our second vineyard close by. We will finish off the day by visiting a goat farm to see the goats being milked and to taste the chèvre before heading home. Fancy joining us?