Six kilometres north-west of Carcassonne in the heart of the Cabardès appellation lies the historic monument of Château de Pennautier, which has been in the Pennautier family since 1620. It was built by Bernard de Pennautier, who was Treasurer of the States of Languedoc during the reign of Louis XIII.
Although it has undergone extensive refurbishment - especially in the 1960s, when most of the vineyards were replanted - the Château is still owned by direct heirs of the Pennautier family. They are Nicolas and Miren de Lorgeril, who took control in 1987, as the 10th generation of winegrowers since the estate was first founded.
During the 1960s refurbishment, vineyards were planted much higher up on the sunny, untamed hillsides at between 200-400m above sea level. The views from here are stunning: to the south are the Pyrenees, to the north one can see the Massif Central, and it is also possible to view the fortified city of Carcassonne.
It isn't just a pretty spot: it is also a brilliant terroir. The coolness of the mountains and the Atlantic influence help to moderate the Mediterranean heat, and the cool clay-limestone soils provide good water retention and help to emphasise the grapes' natural acidity.
In total, Château de Pennautier cultivates 146 hectares of vines of varying ages, around two thirds of which are AOC Cabardès and the remainder Vin de Pays. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, and grenache make up the majority of the vines, but there are also plantings of carignan, cinsault, cot, sauvignon blanc and viognier.