With a few extra days to spend in France I scoured the internet to try to find an interesting little inn or a B&B to surprise my husband. I happened across several postings about Château l’Hospitalet, a hotel on a working vineyard. The reviews I found online were very mixed, but our love of wine won over and I booked one night to give it a try. Unfortunately we decided it was way too short of a stay and we cannot wait to go back.
Château l’Hospitalet is located very convenient to Narbonne, France – about a 15 minute drive. A unique property for Europe, there is a 38 room hotel, a tasting room / store and a simple restaurant that provides local cuisine. It is beautifully nestled among the rolling hills covered in vines.
The history is very interesting. Château l’Hospitalet was once owned by the monks of the Narbonne hospice who used it to grow vines. The first mention of the name Château l’Hospitalet was in 1561. It fell into disrepair and in 1991 it was restored to a chateau and the vineyard was developed. In 2002 Gerard Bertrand, a well-known rugby team captain, purchased the property. Bertrand owns six wineries in the Languedoc region of France.
With so much to see and do along the way we ended up arriving at the hotel quite late. Getting a bit lost in the dark, the hotel staff was very nice, giving us additional directions and waiting for us to arrive. Our room was clean and simply furnished. A complimentary bottle of wine in the mini-fridge was a very pleasant surprise. We had arrived so late the kitchen was closed at the restaurant, but we were able to enjoy a glass of wine and small snack on the outdoor patio. We were told jazz music is usually played on the weekends.
The next morning we explored the grounds and met some of the very friendly staff. Even though it was only 9am we were offered a wine-tasting. There was a graduate student interning for a year from England. She was very excited to be able to speak English to us. She was bubbly and fun as well as extremely knowledgeable about the wines of the region. She poured quite freely encouraging us to try some of the wines produced by Gerard Bertrand’s other wineries. We found several that we really enjoyed and purchased a couple of cases at very reasonable prices. After an hour of tasting we opted for a quick nap by the pool before having to head back to Narbonne to catch our flight.
I have since learned that Chateau l’Hospitalet is one of the most important vineyard sites in the whole south of France. Recently the place has been named ‘European Winery of the Year’, as well as ‘Red Winemaker of the Year’. It was much too short of a visit both to Chateau l’Hospitalet and the Languedoc region. On our next visit we will plan a much longer stay.