Aperitifs, digestifs, liqueurs and other spirits... Occitanie’s wine regions are renowned for their production of the finest drinks. Read on for a snapshot of these wine-based beverages.
The south-west is of course home to world-renowned armagnac! Produced in the Gers region, between the Adour and Garonne rivers, this is France’s oldest eau-de-vie. It is made by distilling white wines produced from Gascony’s traditional grape varieties. In Mauléon d'Armagnac, the Castarède family runs the oldest trading house. Surrounded by the 16 hectares of Domaine de Maniban's vines, it offers visitors a chance to uncover the still’s secrets and the eau-de-vie production process.
This timeless spirit can also be found in two of the region’s liqueurs, Floc de Gascogne – a subtle blend of young armagnac and grape must – and the delicate orange flavours of Pousse-Rapière.
The rich terroir of the neighbouring departments has given rise to some surprising drinks. Hypocras, a medieval beverage made from wine, honey and spices, is still produced in Ariège, while Rogomme, a liqueur wine made from an old Quercy recipe, has been revived by Château de Chambert.
Over in the south-east, in Languedoc-Roussillon, the town of Thuir is the birthplace of Byrrh, an elixir created by the Violet brothers in 1866. With 100 years of history in the commune, Caves Byrrh retraces the history of this aperitif and is home to the world's largest wooden vat, capable of storing over one million litres!
In Marseillan, vermouth and its cocktail offshoots take centre stage at Maison Noilly Prat. Visitors to this 200-year-old establishment can discover its historic cellars and traditional methods of open-air ageing.
In the Faugères AOP, the eau-de-vie Fine Faugères stands out due to its double distillation and delicate aromas. And finally, in the Minervois region, the Marc de muscat "Grain d'ambre”, made from grape marc that is first fermented and then distilled, is sure to surprise the taste buds.
From west to east, Occitanie's vines offer plenty of delights for the disciples of Bacchus!
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