The AOC Corbières was created in 1985 and measures 23,000 hectares (56,810 acres). The appellation requires a minimum of two grapes in a wine blend. The co-op farms 350 hectares (868 acres) around the tiny hamlet of Embres et Castelmaure. The 760 parcels are inspected and the characteristics recorded on computer. Each parcel is supervised individually by a technician who dedicates his time to this task. They have re-learned to prune, plough, check yields, sort, select, with a permanent focus on the respect of the environment. All of the grapes are harvested by hand. In the cellar, vats hygiene, temperature control, ultramodern pressing contribute to a better expression of the terroir. The soil is made of schist, limestone, alluvial river wash and argilo-calcaire.
The Corbières AOC, established in 1985, is the largest in the Languedoc, and represents the South of France in transition. Though viticulture here dates back to the Romans, only within the last twenty years have Corbières wines begun to reclaim their reputation. Approved for reds, rosés, and whites, the region's vineyards cover a wide variety of elevations, soil types, and exposures. Hilly terrain and the Atlantic Cers wind moderate the Mediterranean heat, giving the wines balance and complexity; the best will go ten years or more in the cellar.
Reds represent 88% of the AOC’s production and are an assemblage of the sun-loving grapes of southern France. Carignan’s briars, Grenache’s berries, Syrah’s cherries and Mourvèdre’s plums allow for a wide range of styles, which are often influenced by the wild herbs of the garrigue. Corbières rosés, though only 9% of production, are serious wines and the small production of Rhône-variety whites are fresh and sea-influenced.
With eleven sub-appellations, Corbières is an AOC in the process of refinement. Corbières-Boutenac attained Cru status in 2005, one of only five in the Languedoc to achieve this highest ranking.
Whether it’s playful and fun or savory and serious, most rosé today is not your grandmother’s White Zinfandel, though that category remains strong. Pink wine has recently become quite trendy, and this time around it’s commonly quite dry. Since the pigment in red wines comes from keeping fermenting juice in contact with the grape skins for an extended period, it follows that a pink wine can be made using just a brief period of skin contact—usually just a couple of days. The resulting color depends on grape variety and winemaking style, ranging from pale salmon to deep magenta.