One of the attractions of the Languedoc is the walking and hiking in this beautiful region. I came to live here in 2009 and chose the Minervois as the ideal place to base myself and my vineyard tour business as it’s a hop, skip and a jump to Carcassonne where many of my clients base themselves. It is also a tranquil place to live, surrounded by vineyards and tucked beneath the Montagne Noire where there are many places to walk and hike which is one of my passions. This year I decided to create a new tour that invites fellow wine & walking lovers to join me on one of my favourite walks and I’ve dubbed it Walking & Wine with Wendy.
Sitting just beneath a stretch of the Montagne Noire and encompassing part of the Petit Causse is the beautiful village of La Livinière which is home to the first Languedoc cru, Minervois-La Livinière. These red wines are often dominated by the Syrah grape but what makes them stand out from other Minervois wines is the freshness that belies their power and body. What is it that gives them this individual and appealing character? Well it’s all down to the terroir and this tour includes a two hour walk through the vineyards where I will talk about the soils and climate and other important aspects that influence the style of the wine.
The landscape where these vines grow has been farmed since Roman times and there is a strong belief that the name of the village stems from the Latin word for wine cellar which is cella vinaria. The vines are grown at higher altitudes than much of the Minervois and on soils containing limestone which its often claimed, gives a fresh acidity to wine but it’s also a wonderful soil to walk on. Your spirits lift as soon as you step onto the white rock and feel the sun reflected up at you as you set off across the hills. The views are heart lifting as you gaze northwards at the limestone causse that is spread with garrigues, the local wild scrub that is a mixture of wild herbs, juniper bushes and pine trees. We will be facing south west on the return stretch and in front of you are the Corbières Hills and in the background on a clear day the snow-capped Pyrenees.
The walk brings us back to the ancient village of La Livinière which is a warren of tiny lanes and paths that twist and turn passing by the remains of the ramparts and pretty stone built houses and brings me to the ancient church with its domed tower, said to be a copy of a chapel in Bethlehem.
This tour goes on to include a wine and olive oil tasting in the village and a delicious lunch then we re-join our vehicle and head off into the Petit Causse to visit my other favourite village, Minerve. Here we enjoy a stroll through this tiny commune and learn about the Cathar siege that took place her 800 years ago.
This tour is available as a private tour just for you and your party (groups of 8 to 16 people) most months of the year apart from August when it’s too hot to walk. This year on a couple of occasions during May and October I will be offering it as an open tour for anyone to join, so if you’re interested in either a private or open tour please get in touch and let me know when you will be visiting the region.
Many people come to Languedoc to visit Carcassonne and of course this is essential however there is a wonderful world of vines, history, stunning landscapes and beautiful villages to see outside the walls of that medieval fortress. So, if you like walking and love wine then I hope you will join me on my favourite walk in the Minervois.