|Minerve at the confluence of two rivers|
We began our first day’s excursion at the remains of the 12th Century Cathar Castle of Minerve, site of a horrific siege by Simon de Montfort during the Crusades. Minerve was a small village, perched on a wall of rock standing high on deep gorges between the meeting of two rivers. It was a well protected site with high visibility and double surrounding walls as well as overhanging ledges but sadly it wasn’t enough to withstand the catapults set against it and the men who were anxious to loot the town and kill the Cathars.
The only thing left of the original fortress is a single, tall octagonal tower. The remaining village is composed of numerous narrow alleys and small homes with about 150 inhabitants. A walk through the town gives a bit of a view as to what life might have been like through the ages with the steep, cobblestone streets, small windowed homes but stunning vistas of the gorges and huge cliffs.
|Note the trap door in the ceiling - that's how|
they filled the barrels!
No trip out was complete without some kind of tasting opportunity…this one was at the winery of Massamier La Mignardel. Like so many of the wineries in this region, this is a relatively small, family run operation. We were treated to the story and wine sampling by the matron of the winery, the retired mother who proudly shared stories about the wines and their production. Despite their small size, their wine was selected as the best red wine at an International Wine Challenge in 2005.
The tasting room sported huge wooden vats with old trap doors in the ceiling that was how the wine was originally poured into the vats. While equipment has changed, the use of the room for wine tasting brought the in the permanence and long lasting nature of wine production.