A Journey to Coastal Southern France

As you may know, if you read my recent blog article Chillable Reds, last month I traveled to southern coastal France, specifically Narbonne which lies along the coast, one hour south of Montpelier and three hours north of Barcelona, Spain. It’s not the easiest place to travel to – two or three flights, depending on the route, are needed to reach this picture-perfect region. I chose the two leg-option – fly through Philadelphia to Barcelona – and then a three-hour drive up the coast to reach Narbonne. Postcard images of hilltop fortress towns, vast farmland and the sea quickly calmed my spirit, energized me and reduced any normal travel angst and fatigue.


Narbonne is within the Occitanie region, which is one of the largest vineyard and wine-producing areas by surface area, yet it is often overshadowed by the more nameworthy areas of Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy. I was invited on this journey by Gerard Bertrand, a winery whose owner with the same name is famous in the region for paving the way in organic and biodynamic farming, and for his professional rugby career previously. Since early on, Gerard believed that winemaking in accord with nature is the best way to showcase the area’s land and great wines.


The trip was a quick five days which included two days of travel on each side leaving just three days of excursions. The 15-hour day’s itinerary was chock full of activities, immersing us into the culture and cuisine of southern France – visits to Gerard Bertand vineyards in the areas of Cabrieres, Corbieres, Tautavel, three-hour lunches in vineyard fields with local cuisine paired with Gerard Bertrand wines, one-to-two hour pauses for downtime. Then local three-to-four-hour dinners in the city of Narbonne, along the coast and at Jazz Hospitalet followed our full days.

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While every experience was top notch, there was none like Jazz Hospitalet – an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list and enjoyed at least once in a lifetime. In its 19th year, Jazz Hospitalet is an international outdoor jazz festival held at the beautiful Chateau Hospitalet – @chateaulhospitalet – Gerard Bertrand’s wine and beach resort nestled in between 2,500 acres of nature along the coast. The event brings together thousands of people from all over the world.


Among the trees and looming thunderstorms, we enjoyed an outside dinner full of oysters and shrimp sourced directly from the waters close-by. Each evening of Jazz Hospitalet consisted of a color-themed dress code. Our kick-off evening was orange and entailed a stunning performance by French disco and jazz artist Juliett Armanet – @juliettearmanet. Enchanting, she lured us easily to the dance floor.  


I felt worlds away from anything while on this trip, just as you might expect being surrounded by mountainous vineyards and oceanic backdrops. As always, I came back with more knowledge about the region and why its wines shine from there. To learn even more, stop in to visit me. You can also enjoy some of the wines I had on the trip that are now are now back here:

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