Nestled in the very heart of the sumptuously compelling region of Languedoc-Roussillon is the up and coming wine appellation of Saint-Chinian (AOC Saint-Chinian). Spread across some 3,300 hectares and home to 450 wine producers including 110 wineries and 8 cooperatives, there are rich pickings here for the wine connoisseur with an abundance of different grapes, blends and processes. Historically producing red and rosés but more recently producing classified whites too, whether you’re a serious and informed wine drinker or just an enthusiast starting out on your wine journey like myself, there is a great deal in Saint-Chinian for you to sniff, savour and absorb. And it’s not just the wine that you come here to enjoy.
Wineries of Saint-Chinian
Delve a little deeper into some of the wineries and you may already have your visits arranged from your time at the Maison des Vins. But a great place to start if you haven’t got a plan, are two wineries close to Saint-Chinian which typify and define just some of the many contrasts that you’ll find in this region.
Chateau La Dournie
Run by the lady of the house, Château La Dournie is in its 6th generation of wine production and the beautiful house and courtyard as you arrive hint of the traditional vinification and hand picking that you’ll find here. With 14 different wines produced including AOC Saint-Chinian as well as Pays d’Doc wines, they use a variety of grapes including Syrah, Merlot, Marselan, Grenache and Carbernet. Their wine tasting is open Monday to Wednesday and by appointment at the weekend and if you get the chance, take a stroll around the grounds and have a peep at their former orangery and a little taste of times past.
Domaine La Madura
By marked contrast, the other side of Saint-Chinian you’ll find the clean slick lines of the newly built winery of the Domaine La Madura smiling down calmly on the village from its own little plateau. Simplicity and tranquillity reign supreme here. Cyril and Nadia Bourgne acquired this vineyard back in the late 1990s having spent time in the vineyards of Bordeaux. With sleek new premises but a traditional approach there is a choice of just 4 wines here, which was refreshing in its simplicity – the Classic and the Grand Vin reds and the Classic and the Grand Vin whites and tasting can be arranged by appointment. With their Classic red starting at €11, and all but the Classic white being aged in barrels, these are easy to drink wines which are fruity, charismatic and definitely reminiscent of the garrigue.
Transport: The region is served by a number of airports and Easy Jet fly from the UK to Montpellier and Béziers. Other airports are Perpignan, Nîmes and Carcassonne.
Plan your visit – Get the app: The AOC Saint-Chinian have a great little app where you will find details of the wine producers, routes for local walks, details of other tourist attractions and even recipes. Visit their website www.saint-chinian.com or your app store.