Anthea Gerrie enjoys a peaceful stay in Chateau Haut-Gleon a winemakers’ chateau, named for some outstanding Languedoc vintages.
It’s a chateau by name, but there are no turrets, moats or formal gardens at Chateau Haut-Gleon, just a comfortable large house overlooking vines in the aptly named Paradise Valley.
This is one of the lesser-known scenic enclaves of southern France on the route des vins of Corbieres, one of the Languedoc appellations which deserves to be better known. The region has a growing reputation for well-made, good-value wines, and those bearing the Chateau Haut-Gleon label are serious, top-end examples of the full-bodied whites and robust reds as well as the rose for which the beautiful south is famous and increasingly winning awards.
They are a top end range for Foncalieu, the wine producers who own Chateau Haut-Gleon and let it out when not using the house and its gites to host their own guests and stage tasting events.
It was just such an event which brought me back to the Chateau for a second time, tasting a dozen sublime Foncalieu family roses on the lovely lawn which slopes down to a view of the paradise for which the valley is named – endless vistas of vines lining a verdant ravine. Only on the approach do you get a sense of the mountains you’re driving through, rocky white outcrops which seem so high and deeply buried in countryside, it’s hard to believe you’re only 20 minutes from the sea.
This is a great place for a large family or up to five couples to rent, given its five en suite bedrooms, some of which can also accommodate a single bed or a cot, large living room, spacious dining room and kitchen, not to mention the lavish grounds. Outside amenities include a tree-studded lawn furnished for eating out, a barbecue and a separate garden with a swimming pool which, like its neighbour, enjoys a stunning view of the vines and wooded hills of the estate.
Note that like any family house, two or three of the bedrooms are grander than the others, so the first in through the door will want to stake their claim. However, all guests will enjoy large windows, decent bathrooms and charming public areas with period features which include a beautiful original staircase, stained glass landing windows, beamed ceilings and Victorian tiled floors.
Chateau Haut-Gleon is a self-catering affair like the adjacent properties on the estate – the grape pickers house with an additional five en-suite bedrooms, and a two-bedroom gite. Use of the pool, however, is restricted to the tenants of Chateau Haut-Gleon, so unless renting the whole shebang for a big party, for which the estate would be ideal, don’t worry about being bothered by the neighbours.
The nearest supermarket is at Sigean, a 20-minute drive, there’s a great boulangerie, Baux Portel, in Portel des Corbieres, seven minutes away, and a couple of world-class producers in the region, including Miellerie des Clauses for honey and the Ferme du Montagut in Thezan les Corbieres for goat’s cheese. Dining out options include La Bergerie at Portel des Corbieres, and for a special occasion one of the best restaurants in France is practically on the doorstep – L’Auberge du Vieux Puit, which has three Michelin stars.
As far as day trips are concerned, Foncalieu have their own delightful place to eat in Carcassonne, the mediaeval walled city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Comptoir de la Cite wine bar, a 50-minute drive from the Chateau, sits just outside the walls, offering bruschetta and other tapas to complement its huge range of wines; there’s music, too, on Thursday and Friday nights.
For a heftier feed, walk into town and hit the restaurant Comte Roger, which does an excellent cassoulet, has a lovely terrace and gets a nod from Michelin. Do be sure to taste the Chateau Haut-Gleon, especially the elegant red and the white, which is a sumptuous blend of vermentino and roussanne, and take a self-guided walk in the vines around the delightful country mansion, from where you may not want to stray any further than getting in fresh bakery supplies for breakfast.
Tell Me More About Renting Chateau Haut-Gleon
Chateau Haut-Gleon Villeseque des Corbieres, 11360 France
T: + 33 04 68 48 85 95
Whole house rental at Chateau Haut-Gleon from €390 per night (3-night minimum, with obligatory €200 cleaning charge)