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Gold Trusted Service Award
Awarded by Feefo, which independently collects reviews from our customers, the award recognizes businesses that consistently deliver a world-class customer experience.
Rosette
Boating expertise since 1969
With over 50 years of experience and expertise, we're passionate about providing unbeatable vacations on the water.
Compass
18 amazing destinations
Our extensive network of bases across 9 countries means you can enjoy a return-trip or choose from a wide selection of one-way routes.
Boat
World’s largest fleet
We have more river and canal boats available than any other operator, available to hire between April and October. Our wide range of boats sleeps between 2-12 people.
No boat license required
That's right! You can rent and captain your own boat for a short break (3 nights minimum), a week or longer. We'll show you everything you need to know before you set off.
  • Gold Trusted Service Award
    Gold Trusted Service Award
    Awarded by Feefo, which independently collects reviews from our customers, the award recognizes businesses that consistently deliver a world-class customer experience.
  • Rosette
    Boating expertise since 1969
    With over 50 years of experience and expertise, we're passionate about providing unbeatable vacations on the water.
  • Compass
    18 amazing destinations
    Our extensive network of bases across 9 countries means you can enjoy a return-trip or choose from a wide selection of one-way routes.
  • Boat
    World’s largest fleet
    We have more river and canal boats available than any other operator, available to hire between April and October. Our wide range of boats sleeps between 2-12 people.
  • No boat license required
    That's right! You can rent and captain your own boat for a short break (3 nights minimum), a week or longer. We'll show you everything you need to know before you set off.
  • Gold Trusted Service Award
    Gold Trusted Service Award
    Awarded by Feefo, which independently collects reviews from our customers, the award recognizes businesses that consistently deliver a world-class customer experience.
  • Rosette
    Boating expertise since 1969
    With over 50 years of experience and expertise, we're passionate about providing unbeatable vacations on the water.
  • Compass
    18 amazing destinations
    Our extensive network of bases across 9 countries means you can enjoy a return-trip or choose from a wide selection of one-way routes.
  • Boat
    World’s largest fleet
    We have more river and canal boats available than any other operator, available to hire between April and October. Our wide range of boats sleeps between 2-12 people.
  • No boat license required
    That's right! You can rent and captain your own boat for a short break (3 nights minimum), a week or longer. We'll show you everything you need to know before you set off.

Guide of the wines to discover along the Canal du Midi

Did you know that the Canal du Midi flows through the largest wine-growing region in the world? With no fewer than 240,000 hectares of vines, the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region has something to offer to all palates. Since a boating vacation on the Canal du Midi is a great way of discovering the wine and gastronomy of the region, we’ve compiled this guide of wines to discover along the route, vineyards, and shops to visit, not forgetting a few food pairing recommendations!

To avoid disappointment, be sure to book tours in advance! 

In this article:

Map of the wine appellations around the Canal du Midi

Here are the main wine appellations you’ll find around the Canal du Midi. Appellations are legally defined geographical areas where the grapes for wines of a protected name are grown.

Languedoc and Canal du Midi wines map

Vineyards around the Canal du Midi

Corbières

Corbières is the fourth-largest wine area in France, covering over 9,000 hectares of land in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The production consists mainly of red wine (85%), although some rosé and white wines are also produced in this region (12% and 3%, respectively).

The vineyards stretch between the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains along the Mediterranean coast and up to the southern banks of the Canal du Midi, spanning across the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales regions. You’ll notice that the area is characterized by its Mediterranean climate with a strong influence of the nearby sea.

Which grapes is Corbières wine made from?

Reds and rosés are blends of Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Cinsault, Lledoner Pelut, and Terret Noir may also be used but not exceed 20% of the blend.

White wines in Corbières are typically made from Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, and/or Maccabeu. They can also include Bourboulenc and Vermentino.

Sub-appellations within the region (such as Corbières-Boutenac) have their own assemblage requirements which differ.

What does Corbières wine taste like?

Corbières wines offer a wide range of flavors, influenced by the blend of grape varieties and the diverse terroir. Red wines from Corbières often exhibit robust and full-bodied characteristics, with flavors of dark fruits such as blackberry and black cherry. They can also showcase notes of herbs, garrigue (the fragrant scrubland of the Mediterranean), and spices like thyme, rosemary, and pepper.

While red Corbières can bear similarities to neighboring Minervois, it’s considered a stronger, fuller-flavored wine. 

White wines from Corbières, although less common, are typically fresh and crisp, displaying citrus and orchard fruit flavors, along with floral and herbal notes. Rosé wines, with their vibrant and fruity profiles, are also produced in the region.

What can I pair Corbières wine with?

Whether you’re cooking on board during your boating vacation on the Canal du Midi or at the restaurant, Corbières can be a great pairing for many dishes you’ll encounter in the South of France. It goes very well with red meat and cassoulet and red meats – why not try a delicious grilled rib of beef? If appetizers are more your thing, how about some tapenade or chorizo?

Discover and shop Corbières wines along the Canal du Midi

Many wine shops ("cavistes") along the Canal du Midi will be able to advise you on Corbières wines. If you’d like to find out more from a producer, we suggest you stop in Argens-Minervois and walk 10 minutes from the port to the D’Exea Family’s shop at the Château de Sérame in Lézignan-Corbières:

Chateau de Paraza

Minervois

One of the largest wine areas in the South of France, the Minervois region has the Canal du Midi to thank for its development after the 17th century - even if vines had been known to be grown in the area from the 5th century. The appellation is spread across over 4,000 hectares between the east of Carcassonne and west of Narbonne in the Aude and Hérault regions. The area is bordered by the Montagnes Noires in the north and the Aude River and Canal du Midi in the south. This location means it benefits from the local Mediterranean climate that brings unique flavors to its reds and rosés, which make up most of the production, but also to the small proportion of white wines.

Like Corbières, the Minervois region has sub-appellations limited to smaller geographical locations. One such place is La Livinière. La Livinière owes its name to the Occitan "vinièra" meaning "vine". Vines have always played a key role here, dating back to Roman times, and this commune is the birthplace of one of the very first village A.O.C. (Controlled Origin Appellation) wines in the Languedoc: Minervois-La Livinière.

Which grapes are used in Minervois wine?

Red Minervois is made up of the famous "GMS" grapes (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah) but also Lledoner. White Minervois contains Bourboulenc, Grenache blanc, Maccabeu, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Vermentino.

What does Minervois wine taste like?

Red wines are generally powerful and full-bodied. The stony terraces where Syrah is the most widely planted produce elegant, fruity wines that can be enjoyed with ease and fairly quickly. The white wines combine tastes of vanilla, honey, and a hint of Muscat to create an incomparable smoothness and well-managed aging.

Food pairings with Minervois wines

Red Minervois is a great wine to pair with local dishes, like Cassoulet, that you’ll discover on a cruise on the Canal du Midi. It will also complement meals prepared on board and enjoyed on the top deck of your very own cruiser – enjoy beef medallions or game with chanterelle mushrooms or game. Whites suit exotic cuisine, spicy dishes, fish, and seafood.

Minervois shops, wine tastings and tours:

To discover vineyards, sample and buy wine, there are several great places to stop along the Canal du Midi. Don’t forget to inquire about opening times in advance.

Homps

Just a 4 minute walk from Le Boat’s base in Homps, you’ll find La Maison des Vins du Minervois just across the bridge. The shop showcases a range of wines from over 140 producers.

Argens-Minervois

The village has several vineyards, some of which have cellars in the heart of the village, a short stroll from the port of Argens-Minervois:

  • Domaine des Maels: https://domainedesmaels.com/ - 32 Avenue des Platanes, 11200 Argens-Minervois. Telephone: +33 (0)4 68 27 52 29
  • Domaine de la Serre des Cades: 7 Rue Marcel Pagnol, 11200 Argens-Minervois. Telephone: +33 (0)4 68 45 03 47

Paraza

The Château de Paraza is a fabulous vineyard that hosts events and runs a B&B business alongside its wine production. Walk 5 minutes from the Canal to the Château. The guided tour and tasting are a must!

Ventenac-en-Minervois

Discover the local winemakers’ cooperative, located in the gothic cellars next to the castle.

Cabardès

Cabardès wine is a unique appellation in southern France known for its blended wines combining Bordeaux and Rhône varieties. Established in the late 1990s, it encompasses vineyards in the Aude region, nestled south of the Montagnes Noires (north of Carcassonne) with a diverse terroir influenced by both the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Cabardès wines stand out due to their blending of traditional Bordeaux grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with Rhône varietals such as Syrah and Grenache.

Cabardès wines exhibit a deep ruby color, with aromas of red and black fruits, spices, and herbs. They are elegant, balanced, and feature soft tannins. The combination of Bordeaux and Rhône grapes creates a unique flavor profile, merging Bordeaux's structure with Rhône's spiciness and black fruit character. With low yields and strict regulations, Cabardès focuses on quality and has gained recognition globally for their distinctiveness.

These wines pair well with red meats, game, stews, and aged cheeses.

Cabardès vineyards near the Canal du Midi

Château de Pennautier - Vignobles Lorgeril

Situated in Pennautier, 6km3.7mi from the Port of Carcassonne, this beautiful Château is located at the heart of the Cabardès region. The family also runs the Château de Caunette and Domaine de Garille. Tours, wine experiences, and other events are hosted at the properties.

Château Auzias

It'll take you an hour on foot or less than 20 minutes on your bikes (5km3mi) to reach the Château Auzias (also in Pennautier) from the Port of Carcassonne. Enjoy a 45-minute tour of the castle, the vineyard, and the cellars, and end with a wine tasting session.

Malepère

Malepère is one of the lesser-known appellations of the Languedoc region. It was created back in 2007 and has since been gaining recognition. You'll find its vineyards situated south of the Canal du Midi, west of Carcassonne, stretching south to the limits of the Limoux area.

Red Malepère wines are crafted from a blend of Merlot (minimum 50%) and Cabernet Franc, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache, and Lledoner Pelut. Rosés are primarily made up of Cabernet Franc, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Cot, Grenache, and Merlot.

Red Malepère offers depth and complexity with flavors of dark fruits, spices, and subtle herbs. It's a medium to full-bodied wine with smooth tannins and good aging potential, which pairs well with red meats, grilled vegetables, stews, and aged cheeses.

Malepère vineyards near the Canal du Midi

Le Château De Serres

You won't need to stray far away from the canal to visit this Château, as it's only about 200myd away from the banks, within the limits of Carcassonne – giving you time to take in the beautiful architecture before visiting the cellars!

Domaine de la Sapinière

This organic vineyard is located just under 4km2.5mi from the Port of Carcassonne, providing beautiful views of the city.

Wine tasting at Chateau Paraza

Further afield from the Canal du Midi

If you plan on traveling further afield from the canal, there are plenty of other great wine appellations to discover:

  • Boutenac
  • La Clape
  • Picpoul de Pinet
  • Faugères
  • Saint Chinian
  • Pézenas
  • Limoux
  • Fitou
  • IGP Pays D’Oc

Let’s discover a little more about these last three:

Limoux – the birthplace of sparkling wine

Limoux is an appellation known for its diverse range of wines. Nestled near Carcassonne and south of Malepère, Limoux, too, benefits from a unique terroir influenced by the Mediterranean and Atlantic climates. The vineyards are scattered across the foothills of the Pyrenees, near the Aude River. This geographical location brings cool breezes and varied soil types, resulting in wines with distinct character.

The Limoux AOC produces white wines from three grape varieties, either on their own or blended, then matured in oak barrels: Mauzac, Chardonnay, and Chenin. These grape varieties are also used to make three famous Limoux sparkling white wines with distinct AOCs: Blanquette méthode ancestrale, Blanquette de Limoux, and Crémant de Limoux.

For red wines, Merlot must predominate (minimum 50%) and can be blended with Cot, Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

The still white and red wines of Limoux offer delightful flavors of citrus, apple, red and black fruits, spices, and herbs, reflecting the region's rich heritage.

Fitou

Fitou stands as an illustrious appellation revered for its exceptional red wines. It is nestled in the heart of Cathar Country, encompassing the rugged landscapes between the towns of Narbonne and Perpignan. The vineyards of Fitou are located around the renowned Fitou Lake and stretch across the sun-kissed slopes of the Corbières massif. This picturesque setting, with its Mediterranean climate and diverse soils, offers ideal conditions for grape cultivation. Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah are the key grape varieties grown in Fitou, yielding wines with depth, structure, and complexity. Fitou red wines captivate the senses with their ripe dark fruit flavors, aromatic spices, garrigue herbs, and earthy undertones. These full-bodied wines exhibit firm tannins, allowing them to age gracefully. Fitou wines are the perfect accompaniment to robust dishes and pair exceptionally well with roasted meats, game, hearty stews, and aged cheeses.

Also contributing to the richness of the vineyards, Vin doux naturel de Rivesaltes and Muscat de Rivesaltes are also produced in the appellation's terroir.

IGP Pays d’OC

Not all wines produced around the Canal du Midi and the wider Languedoc region are made to suit the requirements of specific appellations, like the ones detailed above: an important share of the wines belong to the "Indication Géographique Protégée" (protected geographic origin) Pays d'Oc.

Designed to be accessible and easy to drink, these red, white, and rosé wines are made from 58 different grape varieties, but a given wine must be made 100% from one type. Popular Pays d'Oc wines include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for reds, and Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier for whites. Grenache noir rosé is also popular!

You will find IGP Pays d’Oc wine in any shop in France but if your Canal du Midi cruise takes you near Béziers, it’s well worth paying a visit to the Domaine Gourgasse: their traditional cellars are stunning!

There is so much to be discovered and enjoyed when it comes to wine in the south of France! When visiting vineyards, you’ll meet fascinating people who will share with you their passion and dedication. Whether you’re an expert or just someone who enjoys discovering new flavors, a boating vacation on the Canal du Midi is always a great idea!

FAQs

When is it best to visit vineyards?

Most vineyards are open throughout the tourist season; however, it’s best to call ahead to book or check opening times. Opening times may also change during grape harvest as everyone will be working hard to pick the grapes in the best possible conditions.

Is there a dress code at wineries?

There isn't a dress code as such, although we would advise against high heels or impractical shoes for walking, especially if your tour includes a walk in the vineyards.