It is another way of hitting the wine route. A wine route that also offers a protected route for a tiny, rare and beautiful creature, Timon lepidus, the rare and emerald green ocellated lizard known fittingly as the jeweled lizard which is listed on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. The Maîtres Vignerons de Cascastel wine cooperative is in the process of planting extra grasslands in its vineyards and near the low, small walls found in the vineyards. This greenery and walls in turn attract insects that the lizards love to dine upon. And the walls, which the cooperative has made the commitment to restoring, in the vineyards serve as favored habitats for the lizards as well. The first route was completed in 2020 and a second one is slated to arrive in the region in May. Of the 317 small walls in the Cascastel sector, only 32% are in good condition so the restoration will take some time, according to the cooperative.
The species is endemic to southwestern Europe and it is increasingly rare in southwestern France. The adult ocellated lizard is a robust, collared lizard that likes to sun in the sun. It can measure between 12 inches (30cm) to nearly 24 inches (60cm) with up to two thirds of its length being its tail and as seen in the picture it has stylish green beading with bright blue spots on its flanks. Like with many species, the male is usually brighter in color than the female.
After a walk through the vineyards, visitors can taste the cooperatives wines, including the Timon Lepidus 2020, IGP Vallée du Paradis with its lizard label and made of the local grape varieties of Merlot, Syrah and Grenache. For each bottle that is sold one euro is invested in the restoration of the small walls known as murets in French. The wines of the Cascastel vineyards are wines that are worth discovering, wines that are in a way one of the best kept wine secrets in France. Between the Corbières region and the Mediterranean Sea, the Maîtres Vignerons de Cascastel are producing the emblematic wines of this region of France located in the heart of what was once Cathar country. There is the powerful Fitou, the rich Corbières, and the Muscat de Rivesaltes and Rivesaltes cocktail hour wines, the full bodied and flavorful red and rosé Languedocs and Cascastel’s white, red and rosé Vallée du Paradis wines. These are craft wines. All are protected by labels relevant to their geography and grape varieties.
Here the harvest is by hand in the good earth of both black schist and chalky clay slopes. Some 60 wine growers work in concert to create sublime wines over 850 hectares of vineyards spread out over five different appellations. And the environment is a priority for the Maîtres Vignerons de Cascastel, for in addition to protecting the jeweled lizard, the cooperative uses the methods of sustainable agriculture and their commitment to sustainable development is also evident in their use of solar panels. ©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette. https://www.vin-cascastel.com/en/
Categories: Everything Gourmet, Gourmet Fare
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