Capendu nestles on the border between the Corbières region to the south and Minervois across the Canal du Midi to the north. Corbières is a geological chaos of mountain and valley, a wild land of ghosts and rocks and castles, with a hugely varied landscape and different soil types giving rise to a wide range of wine styles.
The reds, made from blends of Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan and Grenache, are big and fruity and generally a bit more rugged than those of the Minervois. The whites are made from wonderfully aromatic grapes that are less well known: Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Maccabeu, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Rolle.
There are great wineries very close by to visit: Domaine des Chandelles in Floure towards Carcassonne; Prieure de Sainte Marie d’Albas in Moux, run by our friends Vincent and Laurence. Vincent’s wines are made solely through maceration carbonique, a technique which gives the wines great fruit and colour, but with a wonderful suppleness. We like them so much that we give a bottle to every guest on arrival.
Slightly further afield are Domaine du Grand Cres in the lovely village of Ferrals to the east, and the highly renowned Chateau La Voulte Gasparets in Boutenac with its amazing cellar and classy white wine, one of our favourites which may distract you from the even more highly rated red.
For more of a day out we recommend visiting the Chateau de Lastours at Portel des Corbières. The wines here have been adjudged as good as those from Petrus and Cheval Blanc and are produced from an estate run as a charitable foundation worked by mentally handicapped people. The owners are big rally fans and have their own racetrack where competitors for the Paris-Dakar rally come to practice. The estate is close to the Parc Africaine safari experience at Sigean which is great for kids and has an extraordinary wealth of animals.