As president of the Comité Interprofessionnel de Cabardès, Claude Carayol succeeded in creating this appellation in 1999, even though wine has been made here since the Romans. There are between 50 and 60 producers in the appellation.
Situated in Languedoc just north of Carcassonne on the southern flank of the Montagne Noire, which separates Languedoc from the Massif Central, Cabardès is unique in that the transitional character of its geography and range of its grape varietals (with plots of Cabernet Sauvignon alongside Grenache) permit the winemaker to favor either a Mediterranean or an Atlantic (Aquitaine) style.
Claude Carayol’s family has been growing grapes in this region for many generations though winemaking is a more recent venture. Claude owns 150 hectares of land up in the hills with just about 20 hectares under vine in the most crazy patchwork of small parcels. You drive over rocky terrain of scrub-oak from one parcel of vines to the other, each vineyard fitting comfortably into its contour in the plateau. This scrub-oak is where the word “garrigue” derives (“gar” being the word for oak) and up in these hills you see the first signs of the typical Mediterranean terroir including wild herbs like thyme and rosemary. Carayol has the highest vineyards in Cabardès, about 300 meters, and the soils are almost pure broken rock, filled with fossilized sea creatures from 90 million years ago. These high elevation vineyards allow him to harvest much later than his down-the-hill neighbors so he picks in mid to late October, giving him a very long growing season.
Farming practices: sustainable.