St Chinian is a lovely market town set in a sheltered wine valley 50 minutes to the north-east of Capendu. The vineyards are said to have been established in the 9th century by a monk called Anian, who subsequently gave his name to the town.
Whilst it is dangerous to generalise about resulting wine styles, there are two distinct geological areas within the appellation: schist to the north, giving earlier maturing wines with a mineral herbal character; chalkier argilo-calcaire to the south where the wines have more dark-berry fruit character and age for longer.
The red grape varieties are common to the rest of the Languedoc: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan, with Cinsault commonly used for rosé. Old vine Carignan is particularly valued here.
We recommend Mas de Cynanque (typical of the southern style, especially the Acutum). Chateau Coujan to the north-east (try the white Rolle, and the big Ile de Corail red from Mourvedre), Domaine les Eminades and Chateau Cazal-Viel.
To make a day of it try going on a Thursday or Sunday when the superlative market is on, have lunch in town, or visit the medieval hill-village of Roquebrun on a beautiful bend of the Orb river where you can swim, canoe or simply skim stones, the great value petting zoo at Cazedarnes, go river swimming in St Chinian itself or Bize-Minervois on the way back.