You are entering the area of France where Rugby Union is played, the wines are high strength and a friendly arguement can easily end up in a bar-room brawl (though you are unlikely to get involved as these arguements will have been maturing for generations). To lubricate the action you need:
Traditionally this area produced high alcohol, rough tasting wines which were designed to extract the maximum income from the EU paying for the wine to be turned into industrial alcohol. Fortunately over the last 25 years or so, while government subsidised grubbing up of the poorer vinyards has continued the quality of production in the field and in the vinyards has improved beyond measure. That has meant that a certain amount of international grape vines have been planted rather than the more sensible Grenache, Cinsault etc. But overall you can now get a good bottle of wine at the farm gate. In the restaurant you will find that jug wine tends to be chilled (white, red or rosé) and this strangely seems to work with the local foods and in the summer months. Still watch out for the odd 14% jug wine which may make the afternoon's ride tougher than you expect.
The enormous wine region of Languedoc-Roussillon sits to the east of our ride with some 740,000 acres of vines. Of interest you should find:
- La Clape, despite its name a pretty consistent small red AC
- Mas de Daumas Gassac, from the Coteaux du Languedoc, is an expensive, serious wine but worth keeping an eye out for
- You will pass through AC Minervois which is responsible for young lush reds made from a variety of blends of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre which also make up the rosés. Whites are made of Vermentino, Maccabeo, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc. While these grapes may not so famous they make up the base of white Rhone and are also some of the finer grapes in Australia.
- You will not be surprised that the City of Carcassonne has its own wine and that it should be left in the City.
There are a few microbreweries in Toulouse these are the most famous