Château Canet: From Languedoc-Roussillon to Prince Edward County
By Colette Martin, Opimian Area Representative, Ottawa Chapter and Eastern Ontario
Travel has always been a fundamental passion of my husband’s and mine. It’s what connected us then and remains something we endeavour to do whenever the opportunity presents. As time went on, we discovered a shared interest in wine and this began to influence our travel choices. Over the years, we’ve been to Italy, California, New Zealand, South Africa, France and locally here in Ontario: Niagara and Prince Edward County
When we were planning our trip to France last year and thanks to Opimian’s membership perk of being able to visit producers of top-quality wine via the Member Experience program, we formulated an itinerary of exceptional wineries to visit with ease. After a couple of days in Paris and a few days in Saint-Emilion we made our way south to the Languedoc-Roussillon region where we rented a small apartment in Narbonnne Plage. A few days, wineries, and a tour of the medieval city of Carcassonne later, we arrived at Chateau Canet.
Chateau Canet is an impressive property. Standing on grounds, gazing at the old, beautiful buildings, you feel as though you’re standing in history. Sitting on the middle part of a gently sloping hill, surrounded on all sides by vines save for one patch in front of the main building where there sits an olive grove. In addition to crafting an array of wines to suit the more discerning of tastes and pocketbooks, they also produce small-batch, high-quality olive oil and olives. The olives were delicious and unique in that they had a slight hint of vanilla and almond nuttiness to them. Sadly, they did not last long enough to make the trip back to Canada. The oil, on the other hand did, and we served it as part of our reception during our Prince Edward County Weekend Event.
This fellow, sculpted by a friend of Victoria and Floris', greets visitors upon arriving at the Château.
The main building.
Outdoor stone firepit backing on to the olive grove.
Winemaking Facilities Tour
Upon concluding a self-guided tour around the property, we met up with Victoria and proceeded to tour the winemaking facilities and tasting the (fermented) fruits of their labour(s), a hardship like no other. Chateau Canet is a vine to bottle capable winery. During our tour Victoria took us through each area, from de-stemming, pressing, fermenting ageing and finally the bottling plant.
We had the privilege of tasting a variety of wines at all different stages. Some were drawn directly from stainless steel tanks, egg-shaped plastic tanks and concrete. We also tasted from the barrel in the ageing room using a wine thief, where we had a little fun experimenting with blending. Our tour finished in the main building with a glass of the Chateau Canet Minervois. Absolutely perfect!
Victoria and a visit to Prince Edward County
Victoria and Floris have been Opimian partners for several years. They bought Château Canet in 2007 after spending 20 years in Burgundy. We learned a great deal about Victoria during our afternoon. Born in New Zealand, she spent her childhood in Thailand and Spain, attended school in Britain, Mexico and Canada. When her parents retired, they settled in Prince Edward County, where the Bake family still maintains a family home. PEC is a region that I serve in my duties as an Opimian Representative and I shared with Victoria my plans for a full weekend tour in the Spring of 2019. In a serendipitous turn of events, the dates coincided with a visit Victoria had planned to see her sister, who lives in PEC and so that is how, over a glass of wine and a wonderful visit, we decided to team up and Chateau Canet was featured at our PEC Weekend Gala dinner on Saturday April 27th, with Victoria as our keynote speaker. She is a Rock Star!
The weekend in the County was something I had been conceiving since I joined the Opimian team the year before. With some assistance from former Opimian Rep Patsy de-Courcy Ireland, Sandra Pauwels and our Events Coordinator Anais, I was able to put together a packed weekend of wine tastings in The County with luxurious accommodations at The Waring House.
We kicked things off with a Welcome Reception featuring wines from Huff Estates. Most of the group then adjourned to the adjacent Pub, The Barley Room, for a drink and a bite with live music while others returned to their room to enjoy the pic-nic box filled with delicious goodies. On Saturday we struck out at the crack of well…. 9:30 a.m., despite the unseasonably cold, snowy temperatures.
Our tour started at The Grange where Maggie, owner/winemaker, led us through a flight of their premium wines in the beautiful country style tasting room. We went on to Stanners where Colin and Mary served us a delicious flight of wines including a Riesling, a Chardonnay and their flagship Pinot Noir while their dog, Oliver, brought out tasting pamphlets to our group. At Hillier Creek we sampled wonderful wines followed by what was meant to be a patio lunch. sadly weather was not quite so cooperative. Undaunted by the elements our group donned their coats and dug in, warmed by Hilliers port style fortified wine aptly named Navy Left. In the afternoon we visited Rosehall Run, where Lynn Sullivan, managing partner at RR, served our group a premium tasting flight that truly impressed. We capped out day of tastings at Sugarbush where Robert and Sally Peck, owners, greeted us with warmth and wonderful wine.
An Evening with Victoria
That evening, in The Waring Hall, we had the opportunity to taste a selection of nine Canet wines including a vertical tasting of the Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Special Oak Reserve from 2014, 2015 and 2017. We sat down to a five-course gourmet meal prepared with the wines in mind, in fact the “palette cleanser” was a sorbet infused with Chateau Canet Syrah and was a hit. It took some finagling, but I was finally able to get the recipe from the chef. Victoria walked us through each wine and told its story, she spoke about what goes on in the vineyards, the vinification, how the wines get their names and through it all you sense the passion and get a glimpse of what this endeavour means to her and her entire family. It was a wonderful evening and an extraordinary experience.
« The exquisite dinner with our keynote speaker, Victoria Lemstra Bake, was truly memorable. The vast array of wines tasted, was superb! »
On the outset, we visited a supplier at Chateau Canet. At the conclusion of our time there, we left friends; in fact, as we left and many times thereafter, my husband said our visit to Chateau Canet felt much like a visit home. France is a dreadful place… to leave. Luckily, it’s not too far away and we’ve already booked our tickets to go back in Oct 2019 and are looking forward to spending more time at Chateau Canet with Victoria and Floris.
Favourite Pick for this Cellar Offering?
When asked to pick a favourite from the current Cellar offering, my first thought was “pick them all”. For those of you who were in PEC, you had the unique advantage of tasting the Victoria Chardonnay, 2018 which is the same vintage as what is in the C269 and it is truly fantastic. However, the day after our visit to the Chateau, we headed down to the beach and toasted with a glass of Fines Bulles de Canet while watching the waves of the Mediterranean lap up at our feet, so it will remain a favourite in my memory of our visit to Chateau Canet and a staple in our cellar.
VICTORIA CHARDONNAY, FAVORITE SELECTION, IGP PAYS D'OC, 2018 - LOT 1473
FINES BULLES DE CANET, AOC BLANQUETTE DE LIMOUX, MÉTHODE TRADITIONNELLE, 2016 - LOT 1471
About Colette Martin
I grew up in Hudson, Quebec where most of my family still lives so I go back frequently. My husband is from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and we moved to Ottawa seven years ago. We met while we both worked in the Travel/Aviation Industry in Montreal and have been together for nineteen (19) years. We love to travel and hope to do more of it. We are often influenced to travel places where we love the wine and vice versa. We have been Opimian members since 2014 and we are having a wonderful time being Area Representatives.