The plateau of the Minervois
forms a vast amphitheatre, bordered by the Canal du Midi to the south and the Montagne Noire
to the north, stretching from the Heights of Narbonne to the gates of Carcassonne. From the
medieval village, an historical site of worldwide renown, one surveys all the many villages
that make up this land of vines and olive-trees. The rivulets Clamoux, Argent Double, Ognon
and Cesse, running down from the Montagne Noire towards the Aude, have carved out a
whole series of terraces of shale, sandstone, schist, limestone or white marble.
The region was populated
by troglodytes in the mists of prehistory, then successively colonised by Iberians, Greeks and Romans. Vines were
originally only planted in the plain then spread into the Upper Minervois some centuries later, when the region was
repopulated by monks. In the 17th century, the economy of southern France was in full
expansion with the great engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet (born in Béziers) constructing the Canal du Midi and opening
up trade to and from the area. In all the villages it served, wharfs and warehouses bear witness to the new commerce that
this important thoroughfare brought in its wake. A.O.C. MINERVOIS
The vineyards of the Minervois
extend over 4500 hectares cultivated by 180 individual concerns and 35 co-operatives.
The further one penetrates into the interior of the district, the more the Mediterranean influence
diminishes, and the dominantly dry climate gives way in the west to Atlantic influences bringing a
marked increase in humidity.
The various different estates are at altitudes that vary between 50 and 500 metres, leading to a
tremendous difference in ambient temperatures. Within each climatic zone there are further microclimates
determined by their specific topographical character and by the precise composition of the soil.
in red, rosé or white
The red wines
when young are elegant and full-bodied with bouquets of blackcurrant, violet, cinnamon and vanilla.
When matured, they acquire hints of leather, fruit comfits and prunes. The tannins are silky, the wine
full and long in the mouth. The rosés are best drunk young and have a bouquet of small wild red fruit. Initially nervous in
the mouth, they do nevertheless develop a certain robustness and body that renders them longer. The white wines, according to which zone has produced them, are variously rounded or fine, long in
the mouth, with a bouquet of citrus and exotic fruit and, variously fresh, lively or nervous, all have
a pronounced floral tone.
The "Minervois nobles", liqueur wines, have a bouquet of honey, lime-trees and white flowers. In
the mouth, the fine balance of alcohol, acidity and sugar results in a remarkable complexity.
THE WINE-TRAIL THROUGH THE
MINERVOIS "La route des chateaux et des caves": From Trèbes to
Caunes-Minervois "La route du silence": Between Trèbes and Puichéric - from La
Redorte to Homps and from Olonzac to Somail "La route de lolive et du muscat": From Sallèles to Saint Jean de Minervois "La route de lart roman": From Pouzols to La Caunette,
from Minerve to Cesseras and from Siran to Caune-Minervois.
A jutting outcrop of burnished stone blotted
against the blue of the sky, perched like the ark of the deluge on
the spur of a plateau, precarious on the brink of the twofold precipice of the Cesse
and of the Brian, a village above and beyond the world, ruling with fierce pride over a
desert of brush and stones, scarred with gorges, pitted with caves, dotted here and there
with ancient dolmens and isolated farmsteads, a steep steppe where the sun strikes, incandescent,
against the dreaming spires and where the cruel light plays strange tricks upon the eyes -
mirages that recall to life the hunters of prehistory, the march of Roman legions, the sly
shades of visigothic archdeacons and of rapacious feudaries, the fearful fires of
a vengeful Simon de Monfort and the horrors of charring human flesh and yet, through the
clouds of acrid smoke one can, it seems, descry the dulcet features of fair young
damsels, sprung from the lays of Ramon de Miraval, and, in their midst, the manly form
of Raymond Roger Trencavel.
(Adapted from Maurice Chauvet. Translation by David Bond.
tours round the cité of Minerve
MUSÉE ARCHÉOLOGIQUE ET PALEONTOLOGIQUE
Telephone 04 68 89 47 98 / 04 68 91 22 92
MUSÉE HUREPEL : Reconstruction of the cathar period, figures and miniature
Telephone. 04 68 91 12 26
SYNDICAT DINITIATIVE de MINERVE
Telephone 04 68 91 81 43