THE WEEKEND: The cooler months are the finest time to arrive in the Languedoc region of southern France. Across a cloudless sky, white storks make their long way south to soak up the sun in Kenya’s savannah lands. Below them, the grape harvest is underway, taking place in vineyards said to be the oldest in the world (first planted by the Greeks in the 5th century BC). Happily, it’s still nice enough to sit outside and enjoy iced local oysters with a crisp glass of rosé. Found close to the Roman city of Narbonne, Château Capitoul feels splendidly isolated in its rambling 240-acre estate, yet it is also within touching distance of a dizzying choice of things to see and do. Sat on a hill, within the natural park of the Massif de la Clape, you first see its fairytale-like turret peak out through the centuries-old vineyards, like an age-old beacon guiding you to the estate.
THE STAY: The best rooms are in the Château, which dates back to 1896, and which still retains plenty of period details. The eight sprawling suites have been renovated with vintage chandeliers, bateau bathtubs and antique mirrors. In the grounds, there’s also a selection of 44 villas, many with pools, which give a nod to traditional fishermen’s cottages, with terracotta roof tiles, traditional wooden shutters and oak beams. There’s an infinity pool, tennis courts and a subterranean spa found in the basement of the Château. But, at the heart of the experience is the wine, overseen by winemaker Florian Chollet. This area of La Clape was the first region in the Languedoc to be granted coveted Grand Cru status and Château Capitoul is the Angelina Villa-Clarke adores the Languedoc region in cooler months flagship estate of partners Vignobles Bonfils, one of France’s most respected independent wine companies. Guests can experience wine tastings in the cellars and also in the modern wine shop, with standouts from the label including Ode Rosé, the light white Oros Cayenne and the red Maelma.
THE FOOD: For a contemporary take on haute cuisine, head to Méditerranéo in the Château’s original dining room. Here, chef Valère Diochet elevates local produce to fine dining status – think: inventive amuse bouche (a green olive on a spoon turns out to be chick pea and cumin mousse described as a ‘trompe l’oeil’ ) and red mullet with pistachio pesto and Rodez parmesan. Asado, meanwhile, is more relaxed with local fish and regionally-sourced meats cooked over the wood-fired grills taking centre stage in the open kitchen. There’s cuttlefish with chorizo; monkfish with hazelnut butter and slices of black pork with the most delicious confit garlic aioli. Make sure to order the flame-grilled baguette to dip into the Fabi olive oil and Gruissan sea salt which comes laced with thyme.
ASK ABOUT: There are e-Bikes which make it easy on the legs if you want to explore the cliffs of La Clape, cycle around L’Ile SaintMartin or head to one of the nearby dune-trimmed beaches. The Château can also arrange a local guide to tell you more about the local wildlife and history.
Visit Château Capitou yourself
Hotel rooms at Château Capitoul start from £192 per night; chateaucapitoul.com
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