A narrow, steep lane leads up through a series of hairpin bends to the top of Mont Redon, one of the limestone peaks of La Clape. From here you can see the vast expanse of the Mediterranean sea, the mountains of Spain in the hazy distance, the cathedral city of Narbonne on the plain below and the château and winery of Francine and Bruno Pellegrini. The house and its various buildings contain five charming gites, each named after grape varieties. Newlyweds can celebrate their nuptials with up to 130 of their family and friends in a huge banqueting hall above the vat-house. During the harvest, this room reverts to its primary function as the loading area where red grapes are poured into the cuves below. Oenophiles will adore the smart tasting salon with its grand chandeliers illuminating hundreds of bottles of some of the best wine of La Clape.
The château has a long history but, like so many winemakers in the Languedoc, its owners moved here relatively recently. Francine, a tourangelle, settled here permanently in 2001 and was joined two years later by her Tyrolean husband Bruno leaving behind a career as wine courtier. Today they cultivate around 40 hectares of AOC vines on the limestone slopes of La Clape (mainly syrah, grenache and cinsault) and 8 hectares of VDP vines (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and viognier). You’ll find a fascinating mix of vins de terroir and modern, easy-drinking wines. The top cuvée – Le Blazon – is built in the full, borderlais style despite its principal encépagement of syrah. Between them the Pellegrinis speak French, English, Italian and German; their guests, like themselves, come from afar and fall in love with this ancient house set between the mountains and the sea.
Château Ricardelle, route de Gruissan, Narbonne.