TO SEE | WINE
Being one of the very largest wine regions in the world, you cannot visit Languedoc without doing a wine tasting. But it might be a bit difficult to decide which estate (or estates) you want to go to if you can choose between more then 21,000 domaines (!). Last week I visited the charming Château de Perdiguier in Maraussan. This castle has been around since the 13th century and surprisingly enough does not only grow vines. Time to find out more.
The setting of Château de Perdiguier is gorgeous. Right at the banks of the Orb river, I drive the driveway of the castle, flanked by rows of bright green vineyards, where Pauline and Kate welcome me. Initially built as a bastide in 1280, Château de Perdiguier became the property of the king of France in 1375. Charles V then gave it to his treasurer Jean Perdiguier, hence the name of the castle.
Roses and vines
Since 1968, Château de Perdiguier is owned by the Feracci family. They have set up a flourishing wine estate under the IGP French wine quality category, which is less strict than AOC. That is why today you will also find grape varieties less used in Languedoc, like merlot and cabernet sauvignon. I was curious to know why roses were planted at the end of some vine rows. Kate explained to me that roses act like an early warning system, as some of the typical vine diseases hit the roses before the vines do. Interesting way of avoiding pesticides!
The third generation of the Feracci family does not only grow vineyards. When hopping on the domaine’s trailer, I find out all about agroforestry and aromatic herbs. It’s fascinating to see all these perfectly aligned trees. According to Kate, the trees are planted with the newest technology, using satellites to get them this straight. Agroforestry is all about using land in a smart, ecological and dynamic way. That is why you will find other crops between the trees. On the 26 hectares of cultivated land behind the castle, aromatic herbs like thyme and oregano are planted. But there is more: 800 hectares in total is grown with various crops.
Once back at Château de Perdiguier, I get a private tour of the castle. The Feracci family still lives in the castle, so we can’t see it all. But Kate does show me this fantastic hidden treasure in one of the towers. A couple of years ago, the family discovered by accident these amazing 17th-century frescos. I end my visit with a gourmet tasting including wine, cheese, charcuterie and other local specialities. Utterly pleased I head back home, happy to have found a new great address I’d love to bring my family and friends to.