Well a holiday wouldn't be complete without some wine tasting! Richard started early, he disappeared into a wine shop the first time we walked down to the beach, he chose well, he bought a very nice Collioure rosé.
We were staying close to Banyuls, Languedoc, in the south eastern corner of France, just above the Spanish border. We spent an afternoon driving through the vineyards and tasting Banyuls. Banyuls covers only 2,500 acres and makes a naturally sweet dessert wine mainly from Grenache grapes.
The Pyrenees slope down to the Mediterranean here, the old vines grow on the terraces. As access is difficult nealy all harvesting is done by hand. The vineyards were such a contrast to the manicured Saint Emilion vineyards that we are surrounded by.
The production process 'mutage' was invented in the 13th century by a Catalonian Doctor. When the sugar levels are high, alcohol is added to stop the fermentation.
The wines are matured in barrels or glass jars, often outside, exposed to the sun. You'll see in the photos that the barrels, outside, have hoses over them. The barrels are watered daily to reduce evaporation and prevent the barrels shrinking and leaking.
We brought some Grand Cru home with us, which we have drunk with blue cheese - delicious.
There are more photos on Facebook.