Given that we live in the world’s largest wine producing region, it’s no surprise that Bill and I have ample opportunities to taste that favorite beverage of Roman god Bacchus. It might be at a neighbor’s house, in the corner mom-and-pop shop, at the cooperative of 50 brands represented in the newly-restored early 1900s Le Comptoir de la Cité, or at one of the many city-sponsored festivals given throughout the year. We were at one of these fêtes last weekend, organized by CitéVins, which is a group of young vintners, mentored by award-winning sommelier Baptiste Ross-Bonneau, who promote the smaller producers in our part of the country. The show opened at 9:00 AM but even for we seasoned tasters, closer to mid-day was better and the timing was perfect.
With our Saturday market fruit and veg stowed in our backpacks it was time to seek out some revitalizing refreshments. These tasting events tend to be very popular so we don’t always get to talk with the vintners but because we arrived just prior to lunch, at each booth where we stopped everyone had time to chat. At Chateau Rives-Blanques it didn’t take long for owner Jan Panman to hear Bill and me speaking English to each other and effortlessly switch from French to what turned out to be his own native language as well. Located in Limoux where sparkling wine originated, we knew all about the bubbles and were pleased to discover his whites and a rosé.
Prior to Saturday’s show, we had not had much luck with finding wines to our taste from Fitou, an hour southeast of here right on the Mediterranean Sea, but the charming woman from Domaine Maynadier changed all of that. After all, as she said, “Who can resist a rosé called L’Amour?” Next we talked with the husband and wife team from Oinos where Jérôme Calmes only had to pour a bit of their 2011 Minervois red to convince us that we would be taking a bottle home. Realizing that we didn’t have a car to visit their vineyard, Mr. Calmes offered to deliver the wine to our house anytime he would be driving through Carcassonne.
We certainly needed something to eat by then so we stopped at the food counter for a platter of foie gras and one of charcuterie and cheese, but what about something to drink since they only sold water and sodas? Conveniently, our standing bar table was right beside the Château de Caux et Sauzen booth with their wide range of choices. Ironically we bought a bottle of their Pays D’oc red to accompany our lunch while learning from them that the vendors were not there necessarily to sell wine. The goal was to promote this part of France and to encourage tourism in general.
Our last stop of the day was at Chateau La Bastide where we talked with the husband of director Nan-Ping Gao who was busy pouring samples. The couple met in China in French language school before moving to France to run a business here. Now with the vineyard they want to ensure a quality product for their country of birth plus entice those same people to visit the place where the wine is made. I read in the newspaper their very moving quote, “We are deeply grateful to France and we want to set a good example for 1st generation immigrants … I will never say thank you enough to France!”
Although today’s blog post title includes the word, “impressions”, a derivative of that word would well describe how we felt upon leaving the fête. Dedicated people, passionate about wine, who want to make something that will be enjoyed by others both at home and in the beautiful setting of the south of France, left us both “impressed”.
Readers have asked us to include links to places we’ve mentioned. We have no connection to these wineries; we simply liked them.
Château Rives-Blanques: https://www.rives-blanques.com/
Domaine Maynadier: https://www.domainemaynadier.com/
Château de Caux: https://www.chateaudecaux.com/
Château la Bastide: https://www.chateaulabastide.com/
Le Comptoir de la Cité: http://www.foncalieu.com/en/
CITÉ vins Carcassonne https://www.facebook.com/citevins/