Ever wondered where the Decanter team go on holiday? Our in-house team recommend where to eat and drink, from their own trips, starting with awards tasting executive, Natalie Earl...
Whenever I travel to the Languedoc I tend to stay in the Minervois, a sub region in the foothills of the Montagne Noire; a garrigue-infused limestone and clay landscape bejewelled with small characterful villages.
The diversity of this region’s wine and food is boundless and it never disappoints, so below are just a handful of recommendations.
A delightful, vibrant and fun wine bar in the heart of medieval Caunes-Minervois. Offering an ever-changing selection of tapas-style small plates in their shaded outdoor space, it is open every day and evening in summer. The extensive wine list shows the very best of local organic, biodynamic and minimal intervention producers dotted with gems from further afield at very reasonable prices.
Try the Grenache, Carignan, Syrah blend “Jour de Vigne” from Domaine Cazaban with the fried aubergines.
Or the juicy “Roug’ É Clair” from Corbières-based Domaine Ledogar with the burrata salad. The staff and proprietor Benjamin Taillandier are knowledgeable and always happy to give recommendations.
Starting out as a place for a group of great friends to drink real wine, it has never lost this charm. Live music at the weekend, a mix of locals and holiday-makers, it really is difficult to stay away from this place.
An hour’s drive from Carcassonne and set on the very edge of the pink-tinged salt pans (pictured top), this outdoor restaurant is the place to come for the freshest fish and shellfish. There is an excited buzz as giant seafood platters come whistling out the kitchen and seagulls whirl across the bay.
It is famed for its local oysters from Île de St Martin, and try the salt-encrusted turbot washed down with a glass of the house white. Visit the shop next door to buy bags of Gruissan Fleur de Sel and learn about the salt harvest.
+33 4 84 25 13 24 www.lesalindegruissan.fr/restaurant_14.html
Lache Pas La Grappe – Carcassonne
Between the medieval walled city and the charismatic lower town lies this unassuming cave à vin on Rue du Pont Vieux in Carcassonne. Share Arnaud Pévère’s passion for small, artisanal and local producers and discover interesting wines that are often organic, made without added sulphites, or sustainably produced.
A wonderful bar in which to have a pre-dinner snack and glass of wine, or to while away summer evenings with plates of locally sourced charcuterie and cheese.
+33 4 68 26 39 63 firstname.lastname@example.org
A trip to Carcassonne is not complete without a visit to the Saturday market. Head there early in the morning to avoid the crowds and buy the beautifully fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season. The market is an explosion of colour, especially when the asparagus are ready in April and May, the strawberries are out in June or the cherries are abundant in June and July.
Once the shopping is complete bag the best seat in the house at the charming and relaxed café Chez Felix, where you can grab an espresso, sit and watch the world go by and spy locals stocking up for a long weekend lunch.
Chez Felix +33 4 68 25 17 01
Wine Tour with Vin en Vacances
To get a real insight for the wine and food of the Languedoc, and if you do not have a car to visit wineries yourself, it is great fun to do an organised wine tour. I have been on the Minervois tour with Vin en Vacances and whether you are a wine novice or an expert it is a wholesome, educational experience.
The small team of wine guides are engaging and dynamic and have a deep, passionate knowledge of the region and its wines and the day was filled with laughter.
+44 (0)7880 796786 www.vinenvacances.com
Editing by Ellie Douglas