Grapes, Vines and Wine
Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest vine growing area in the world Being bigger than the wine growing regions of either Australia or Bordeaux! At one time they made so much wine that the quality dropped but as new ideas have come to be accepted and better grape varieties introduced it has become one of the most successful Wine Regions in France.
You only have to drive a couple of hundred metres out of any of the roads from Colombiers to find yourself in the middle of row upon row of well tended vines - Grape Vines are everywhere for this is a rural economy and wine is it's largest component.
Red wines are mostly produced from the following grapes: Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have replaced some of the older grape varieties.
White wines are mostly produced from the following grapes: Macabeu, Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne, Ugni blanc, Bourboulenc. Viognier and Chardonnay have been introduced with success. Chardonnay is now the most widely used grape in the region.
Sweet White wines are mostly produced from the following grapes: Muscat blanc, Muscat romain or d'Alexandrie and Grenache.
There are a number of areas that have become famous for their particular wines, Minervois and Corbieres (in Aude), ST. Chinian, Faugeres and Montpeyroux (in Herault), Coteaux do Languedoc and Cotes du Rousillon.
The Plains in Herault also produce some famous Muscats: Frontignan and Mireval whereas if you wish to drive for an hour and a bit down the motoway to the Eastern Pyrenees you can try their naturally sweet white Banyuls or Rivesaltes desert wines.
St Chinian being in the foothills of the Haut Languedoc Park, is just half an hour's drive from Grand Rue and Minervoix is between St Chinian and Carcasonne. Corbieres wines are produced to the South of Narbonne.
The plains in Herault also produces famous Muscats, with rich, aromatic flavour, such as Frontignan or Mireval.
Although if it is taken to the ultimate level it is true that you only get what you pay for, if you are more practical, you will find some extremely palatable local wines practically on your doorstep and take a great deal of pleasure in finding the ones that suit you best.
The area is covered by small winemakers and you will probably find a multitude of local wines that suit your palate and don't break the bank. In fact if you take a 4 minute walk from No 15, turning right outside the door, first left then right along to the front of the church and take the next left turn you arrive at Domaine Monlou - Colombiers's own Vigneron Cave. The Family grow, tend, pick, produce the wine then bottle it!
On Saturdays and Sundays the Cave is open, on other days just telephone and they will pop around and open up, either for a tasting or to sell bottles (or boxes of 6!) to you. If you ask them they will show you their family tree, the old implements still in their cave, tell (in French) you how they were used, talk about the age of the building and its enormous oak beams as well as showing you their old pictures of the grapes being harvested.
A very worthwhile visit!