Chateau Canet

Most wine lovers who think about visiting France would normally head towards Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne or the Rhone Valley.  But France has winemaking areas all around the country and it can be quite enjoyable to discover some of them in regions that can only be considered out of the way.  One such is the Languedoc in the southwest of France, which for many years was known for rather rough, rustic table wines of (to be generous) uneven quality.  It is a pleasure to report that these days that is no longer true.

We have been particularly taken by current vintages of Minervois, a region that produces wines that until recently we have avoided.  When we visited Carcassonne and its environs, we took the opportunity to drive to Minervois and do some wine tasting.  [As an aside, Carcassonne is a well-preserved medieval city that was central to the crusades against heretics in the 13th century.  Though very touristy today, it is certainly worth seeing.]



For the wine tasting experience, we recommend Chateau Canet (  Located in the aptly named village of Rustiques, it is only a 20 minute drive from Carcassonne, along some small country roads.  As you arrive at the winery, you drive up a long lane bordered with vines.  You then see a pink manse that brings to mind the chateaux you dream about after seeing a movie set in the French countryside.


Chateau Canet

As you enter the tasting room, you are likely to be greeted by one of the owners, Floris and Victoria Lemstra.  We figure that they saw one of those movies, and actually bought and refurbished a French chateau.  And of course they make wine there.  They make – and you can taste – whites, a rosé and reds.

The tasting room is two pleasant rooms, much more like being in a home than a bar.  There is a table-top on a wine barrel, where you will be served whatever they have and whatever you want.  All very civilized.

One of the things we learned on our visit is that to be called a Minervois AOC (appellation d’origine controlee), a wine must, of course come from the region but also that it must be a blend.  Thus, if you see a bottle with the name of the chateau and Minervois AOC on the label, it will contain Rhone-style grapes, for example Viognier, Rousanne or Marsanne in the whites; Carignan, Grenache or Syrah in the reds.  At Chateau Canet, they bottle Minervois AOC but also, in the American style, individual varietals under the name Domaine Canet.  These cannot be called Miinervois but are vins de pays (country wines).  Because of the breadth of Chateau Canet’s production, you can have quite an introduction to the different tastes of the wines of the Minervois region, both AOC and VDP.


Chateau Canet’s olive grove

When you go, make sure to take a few minutes to walk around the grounds.  Aside from the vines there is an olive grove and pleasant views to take in.  Though we haven’t stayed there, Chateau Canet also offers vacation accommodations, including a swimming pool.  It is not only off the beaten path, you can barely see the path from there.



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