(Part of the vast expanse of vineyards at Jau, can be seen beyond the hedge)
On the southern foothills of the Corbières Massif, the foothills of the Eastern Pyrenees, along the valley of the River Agly, is situated one of the better known and more highly regarded wine producing Châteaux of this region. Now known as the Château de Jau, this site was first inhabited by Cistercian monks in the twelfth century. All that remains of that monastic foundation is a superb square tower, but in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, a magnificent neo-classical mansion was constructed which in 1974 became the home of the Daurë family who have made the wines of the Château de Jau what they are today.
A variety of wines are produced here, Côtes du Roussillon, and Côtes du Roussillon Villages, various Muscats de Rivesaltes, and Vins doux naturels, or dessert wines. The vineyards surround the Château, indeed there is nothing else around here, the nearest village Cases de Pène, is a ten minute drive away. But it is here, almost in the middle of nowhere that one can experience the most unusual and individual of wine tastings.
I have been visiting Château de Jau almost every year for the past twelve years. Hardly anything changes, but then, I wouldn’t want it to! The six course menu of Fougasse aux Olives, Pain à la Tomate et Jambon de Truie, Cotelletes d’Agneau, Saucisse Catalan, Roquefort, and finally Corsaire à l’orange, all excellent in their own way, are served as accompaniments to the wines of the Château.
(The food menu and wine list, above, and some of the food and wine, below)
Each course helps one to appreciate the wines produced here and in their other vineyards near Collioure and overseas in Chile. It is a wine tasting, but with a difference; no little sips here, the bottles are left on the tables, and if you want to try more, then just ask. We have never been disappointed with the food, it is plentiful, rustic but of excellent quality, as are the wines too, some better than others, and each person will have their own favourite. All this is enjoyed in a beautiful setting as the open air restaurant is located on a terrace surrounded by a cluster of ancient buildings, next to a small lake, and within a stone’s throw of the very elegant Château. Every year an art exhibition is held in an adjoining building which adds a different dimension to the visit. A word of warning: should you ever be in the region and decide to enjoy this most enjoyable experience, take a taxi; then you will really be able to enjoy the wines!
(On the left can be seen the barbecue where the meats are cooked, and to the right is the entrance porch to the public area of the Château, looking down the long drive)