Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Red For A Snowy Day

All in all, it's been a pretty tame winter in these parts. There hasn't been much of the white stuff that makes "The Great White North" white - at least not in Vancouver proper. But we got a bit of a dusting today and, to me, that cries out for a bowl of hot French onion soup and a nice red from the south of France to go with it. The snow likely won't stay that long but one should never look past an excuse to turn on the fireplace and let the food and wine take you away for a bit.

I don't recall how we came about tonight's bottle but I probably should have Googled it a bit before we'd finished it off. For once, it was actually rather easy to find a variety of sources of information about a foreign winery. Indeed, I thought the winery had a pretty cutting edge website itself. I rather enjoyed some of their takes on the wines they produce - like, "rough and ready, unretouched, perhaps a bit shocking - sums up in its way our philosophy of wine: southern, languedocien, free"- and about the region they call home: "a land of vines, rocks and rugby, where you don't put on airs and graces."

With a site like that, it probably makes sense that the man behind the winery, Marc Valette, has been called "indisputably the leader of the avant-garde in Saint Chinian." Valette participated in his first vintage in 1992 and he set out on his own with Canet-Valette in 1999, but family members have been winemakers for at least three generations.

1047. 2007 Canet-Valette - Antonyme (AOC Saint-Chinian - France)

Saint-Chinian is a subregion in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France along the Mediterranean. The winery produces four wines that feature different blends of the classical grapes in the region. A certified organic wine that is neither filtered nor fined, it had a big, enticing nose but I didn't find that the wine was quite as expressive in the mouth. There was a New World bent to the palate but the flavours were still reined in enough that there wouldn't be any confusing it for a fruit bomb. I suppose that could actually be a good thing, but the wine's delivery in taste didn't quite live up to the expectations of the nose.

The label didn't say what varietals were in the wine; so, Boo and I simply knew that it was from Saint-Chinian - not a region I'm familiar with, although I rather thought that it was in the south. Boo thought the wine reminded him of Cab Sauv. I thought it more likely involved Grenache. Turns out that neither one of was right in that it was an equal blend of Mourvèdre and Cinsault.

Another interesting point that popped up while I was Googling the wine was that I saw the 2005 vintage didn't fare too well at the Olympic Wine Challenge that was hosted by four of the wine societies in Vancouver just before the 2010 Olympics. Each of the BC, Aussie, American and French groups entered three red wines for a blind tasting by a joint meeting of their members - the Canet-Valette finished 11th of 12 wines. Check out the full results of that tasting for an interesting read. We were actually at that tasting but I don't recall my reaction at the time. I might have some notes and my rankings for the evening somewhere but Lord only knows where they might be.

I likely won't be so quick to make a quick return to this wine the next time that we encounter a snowy day, but I'd still be willing to try another of the Canet-Valette's wines. As mentioned, they seem to be at the forefront of a new wave of southern French wines. That's got to be worth keeping tabs on.

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