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The Same, but different

By Matthew Saunders | Blog

Apr 01
Vineyard and windmill


aop languedoc map

Separated by the Canal du Midi and the River Aude, face à face,  watching each others viniferous progressions with an interest best described as sibling rivalry lies the Languedoc Leviathans, Minervois & Corbières.

Although close in proximity they may be, their wine styles show how far apart they actually are……

Here in the Languedoc diversity is key in all that makes this region so rich but none more so than in the effect that the regions extreme meteorological and geographical conditions play in shaping the wine we produce.

Whilst sharing all that this beautiful region has to offer with our seasonal guests ( clients doesn’t sound as fun ! ) on one of our many wine based experiences at Taste Du Languedoc, the question often asked is “What is the difference between Corbières & Minervois”?

It’s an answer that requires the assistance of Sight and Smell aswell as TASTE.

The Corbières is situated along the coast from just North of Narbonne and our West where it joins the Pyrenees. The situation of the Corbières close to the coast gives us a maritime climate ( Mediterranean) warm winds from the South and plenty of sunshine. The rocky unforgiving terrain of this hilly region provides poor soil meaning low yields but great tannic fruit that’s flavour is heavily influenced by the “Garrigue”, the flora and forna that rampages so readily as far as the eye can see. This Garrigue comprises of Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Mint, Pine and many wild flowers ( sounds like granny’s perfume !) The spores and pollen from this vegetation are carried on the wonderful ever-present wind and comes to rest on the maturing fruit. The rocky aspect of the hills also provides a wonderful clean minerality adding balance to big fruity, tannic, herbal reds.


An AOP Corbières comprises of up to 50% Carignan ( the most used grape) but also: Cinsault, Grenache, Grenache Gris, Lledoner pelut, Mourvedre, Piquepoul noir , Syrah and Terret noir. A minimum of 2 red grapes must be grown, a maximum of 20% Cinsault is allowed and a max of 10% Grenache Gris. Carignan, Piquepoul noir et Terret noir together cannot make up more than 50% of the planting.

The Corbières has 13’500 hectares of vines. 1’429 hectares of vines belong to the prestigious “Cru Boutenac”, a micro pocket of the best wines of the Corbières that is awarded a ‘Cru’ status ! ( this would make another blog I think !)



Anyway enough Corbières, let’s get on to the Minervois, the home of all that’s great ! ( Ignore the biased ramblings of an obvious Minervois resident !) The beautiful Minervois, has over 5’000 hectares of lush green vines and rolling hills. Resplendent and basking in sunshine, the Minervois is sandwiched in between the Black Mountains and the Mighty Corbières. The Garrigue of the Corbières may fill our nostrils with herby loveliness but the eye candy that is the soft green fruity Minervois definitely helps us to understand the flavours we find in a glass of AOP Minervois or Cru La Liviniere Minervois.

Soft fruity reds grown on Argilo Calcaire, Grés and rocky poor soils to the varying soil from the North of the foothills of the Black Mountains and the warm southern winds ( Marin) provide a warm huggy climate that assist maturity but can also invoke rot / mildew if the obliging tramontane wind doesn’t appear to provide a cooling breeze that refreshes the vines.

Irrigation is readily supplied in places by the Lac du Jouarres amongst others and is at times a necessity as it gets hot here ! All of this sunshine gives us wines that are typically full of red fruit flavours, supplied from the Syrah, Grenache & Mourvèdre blends readily found here. The Minervois is typically an area making wine to be drank young ( the wine that is !) but recently producing bold fruity oak aged wines that are great with food like ( grilled meats, stews etc……) and that will keep for up to 10 years.

Whites are light and fruity to be drunk straight away !! White grapes here are very interesting, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Macabeu, Bourboulenc, Clairett blanche & Muscat. Not the sort of thing found globally in abundance but doing well here.


So…….. there its is:

Corbiére – Rocky, Unforgiving, Robust, Fruity, Tannic Garrigue.

Minervois – Soft, Round, Fruity, Complex & Fragrant.

Probably best to taste them all again anyway ! cheers !

Matt Saunders with Corbieres winery operator.

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