Historically, the smuggling of goods such as tobacco, leather and silver, to and from Spain was a major activity in Banyuls-sur-Mer, otherwise the inhabitants lived mainly from fishing and viticulture. Nowadays, tourism stemming from the wine industry plays a significant economic role in the town notable for its delicious and rare red Banyuls dessert wine. This most southerly of appellations in France has a climate which is well suited to viticulture - plenty of sunshine ensures optimum ripening conditions, whilst the strong Tramontane wind keeps the vines pest free.
At Domaine la Tour Vieille, Christine and Vincent produce a terrific Banyuls 'Réserva' from a blend of Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris and Carignan - one third of which is matured for 15 months en plein air in traditional, glass bonbonnes prior to barrel ageing and bottling. With complex scents of dried fruit and molasses and a rich, sweet palate of figs with hints of coffee and caramel, it makes for a decadent digestif or partner to chocolate-based desserts.