Popular with tourists and people – often from the UK – looking for a holiday or retirement home, L’Aude in the Languedoc region of France boasts two extremely pleasant wines. Côtes de Malepère refers to an area lying to the south-west of Carcassonne and northwest of Limoux (famous for its cheap bubbly Blanquette de Limoux).
Indeed, Côtes de Malepère wine has been judged of sufficiently high quality to be officially declared an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) as of 11 November 2006. Having attended the annual festival La ronde du Malepère for several years and seen, or rather tasted, for myself the quality of the wines on offer, I must say it was entirely deserved.
If you’re in the area at any time, you can always visit the various producers to taste their wines, but if you happen to be in the area during the month of October I highly recommend taking time to go to the Ronde du Malepère, if ever it starts back up again. Alas, it’s currently on hold.
La ronde du Malepère was not just a wine tasting event: there were open-air restaurants, a giant wine press providing free – and delicious – freshly-pressed grape juice (children love this), open-air restaurants, all sorts of local produce and dishes (there was this amazing raisin and almond cake, all light and fluffy, and crying out to be devoured and washed down with a cup of good coffee), exhibitions by local craftsmen, with extra ambiance supplied by roving brass bands (bandas) in varying states of inebriation as tradition demands. Held in a different, highly picturesque village in the area each time, so it’s a good idea to bring your camera as well.