When travelers think of the south of France, they tend to picture yachts in Cannes and beachfront hotels sitting by white sandy coastline. But that’s only one part of the picture. There are many portraits of this French scenic land for anyone interested in culture, food and, of course, wine.
A search will take you to the beautiful Minervois, the appellation in the Languedoc, where there you will find Chateau de Paraza, and the Canal Du Midi. Both date back to the 17th century.
Annick Danglas and her family are current owners of the vineyard, located on sloping soil well suited for the growing of grapes. The mostly red wines are full of character all through its 75 hectares (120 acres). They are full bodied, elegant and tannic when young, but silky when mature after three of so years in the cellar.
A favorite wine of the Chateau De Paraza is the Cuvee Special 2009, a tasty wine that’s a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. A sniff gives up some vanilla from the oak, along with red cherry and plum fruit, licorice, black pepper and a nice minerality finish. It feels good and rich in the mouth. The years 2010 and 2011 continue to wine awards. The winery now has a luxurious bed and breakfast at the chateau as well as gastronomic bar in the old cellar for wine lovers to taste their wines and local foods. The canal, some 150 miles long, goes to the Mediterranean from the Garonne River in Toulouse. Visit and find out more at chateau-de-paraza.com.
If your trip permits, c’est magnifique would also include Champagne, France, the origin of true Champagne. Wineries in other parts of the world make bubbly wine but France has protected the name Champagne through international treaty so it can only be used by wineries in Champagne.
Charles Heidsieck is a Champagne producer based in the Reims district of Champagne. It was founded in 1851 and produces both vintage and non-vintage cuvée. The wine is 40 percent reserve wines and 30 percent of each grape variety, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
A favorite of this winery and one that received 93 points in Wine Spectator was the Charles Heidsieck Brut Non Vintage with fine-grained texture and vibrant acidity, along with rich toasty flavors. See more at charlesheidsieck.com.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at tasteofwinetv.com. Reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Facebook.