TO KNOW | LA RAMONETA OF THE MONTH
Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why they are living in this beautiful region, what they do for a living and some of their Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet Neasa Miquel as Ramoneta of the Month.
I am Irish, living in Béziers (1) with my French husband and we have two kids of 3 and 7 years old. Originally from Dublin, which is where I grew up, I have made a move from urban to country living in the Languedoc.
First time in the region
At the time, I was 17 and very impressed by the weather and the vineyards stretching as far as the eye could see. So beautiful! I also discovered Béziers’ Féria that Summer, and I was hooked immediately. I haven’t missed a Féria since…
Settling in Languedoc
Initially, I came here for one Summer to work as an au pair in 1995. I would never have guessed then that it would end up becoming my home. After that Summer, I did six years of travelling back and forth between Dublin and Languedoc before moving here for good in 2001.
I met my future husband here on a night out, and as he is a winemaker, it would be very difficult for him to work in Ireland! So, I made the move here and set about getting to grips with the lifestyle and the wine business. It was at once a huge challenge and an eye opener but also lots of fun.
Living in Languedoc
The quality of life here is great. To have access to seasonal and locally grown food, as well as being so near to nature is fantastic – I love the big colourful skies here. My daily commute brings me from beautiful Béziers to the mountains above Cessenon- it’s like an ever-changing landscape painting.
The Languedoc is a great region for raising a young family. When I compare it with friends who live in big cities, we are so lucky to be laid back about plans and quite spontaneous, particularly at weekends. There is also a lack of pretension, which is very refreshing.
Laurent, my husband, is the 8th generation of winemaker in his family. We own two châteaux- Cazal Viel in Saint Chinian and Les Auzines, near the beautiful village of Lagrasse in the Aude. Unusually for Languedoc, a majority of our wines are white with Viognier and Albarino, our specialities.
We export to 40 countries, so we are kept busy with travel abroad and visits from our customers. We organise horse trekking through the vines, canoeing on the Orb or other fun activities for them, as well as copious wine tastings and meals.
Discovering Languedoc wines
I think big personalities make for interesting wines, and there are plenty of them in Languedoc!
The surroundings are so influential for a wine. Microclimate, altitude and poor soils all contribute to a wine’s quality. The tramontane (across the mountains) wind ensures that vines stay healthy, even on occasional damp days, and also ensure a big difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. This difference ensures perfumed aromatic wines – fresh and crisp yet with ripe fruit.
Best Languedoc wine
I have to say I am a fan of a lot of Languedoc rosés including our Clos du Vent Saint Chinian rosé. Laurent was the first one to replant Albarino in the region, and he has created a totally new white wine (3). This would only be possible in the Languedoc, where a rebellious character is supported and celebrated. I do also love a glass of bubbly and the Limoux sparkling wines are really great.
Ooh, that’s a tough one! An old favourite is “Ma ferme” in Sérignan, family run and their courtyard is beautiful in summer. “Château de Serjac” brings a touch of class to Languedoc and the surroundings are so beautiful. I love a good seafood lunch at “Barba”- it’s such a buzzy atmosphere and they have a great wine list. And the classic “Chameau Ivre” (4) in Béziers, where we have spent many an hour nursing a great glass.
Perfect day out in the Languedoc
A crisp sunny winter’s day. I would go for a ramble (on foot or horseback) in the hills of our estate above Lagrasse, then down to Gruissan for a seafood lunch near the salt lakes. In the afternoon, I would visit the beach of Sérignan and drop into Chameau Ivre in Béziers for some great wine and an anchoiade plate.