The varied landscape of the Corbières vine growing region is divided into 11 different terroirs, a word that describes the combination of growing conditions (climate, soil, environment, etc.) that gives wine its distinct personality. The 11 terroirs are Serviès, Montagne d’Alaric, Lézignan, Fontfroide, Lagrasse, Boutenac, Sigean, Termenès, Saint-Victor, Durban, and Quéribus. Here is a brief notation on each.
Serviès is a fertile area located in a valley between mountains and a plateau. Most of the villages here are picturesque places near the river, tempting people who pass by to visit. Thanks to the lush conditions of the land, it is an area of more than just vineyards.
Montagne d’Alaric is largely ruled by the long, striped mountain that gives this terroir its name. When it is humid, the townspeople say that Alaric is wearing his hat, a beautiful phrase. This area can be so dry in the summer that it necessitates fire watchers.
Considered the capital of the Corbières, Lézignan is home to the headquarters of many local organizations. There is a bustling Wednesday morning market. It is an active location to visit, and a place where you can sample many of the local wines.
The very old town of Narbonne is located in the nearby terroir of Fontfroide. The beautiful flower-lined Canal de la Robine is worthy of a visit, and you can also stop at the century-old covered market, Les Halles. There is also plenty of Roman culture on display at The Musée Archéologique.
Nearby is a small town considered one of the most beautiful in all of France, Lagrasse. Filled with lovely medieval houses and linked by two bridges over the River Orbieu, artists and potters flock to the area’s natural beauty. There are waterfalls at Ribaute, craft fairs, and an Abbey tour as well as the amazing scenery and architecture.
Boutenac may not be similar in landscape to the surrounding areas, but it is home to many century-old Carignan grape vines. Considered the epicenter of Corbières fine wines, it is a very beautiful pastoral place indeed.
The terroir of Sigean is large. The coast, at Gruissan, is perfect for a beach holiday. It is home to resorts, quaint fishing towns, a lagoon, excellent restaurants, a safari park, wine cooperatives, night clubs, and ancient churches.
Steep, scrubby hills bisected by wooded gorges mark the terroir of Termenès. Lovely castles and ruins dot the rural landscape. Villages and towns are few and far between here.
In my belief, the Hermitage de Saint-Victor is home to one of the most spectacular views in all of the Corbières. You can see beautiful hills lined with castles, with the blue of the Mediterranean on one side and Pic du Canigou on the other. Although a large terroir, there are few villages and even fewer roads.
Durban was once a winter pasture of herds of sheep, but is now more of a deserted wilderness. Honey and grapes are the two items produced here now, and Durban is a worthy village to visit to fully appreciate the growing conditions of some of the oldest and best grape vines in the region.
The last terroir, Quéribus, is home to the Chȃteau at Peyrepertuse. This castle looks crafted right out of the mountain itself. There are several other castles in the area, and the land is rich with the history of the Cathars.
I hope these brief introductions inspire you to read more about these terroirs and entice you to visit.