At Château Canet, we believe that good wine is the result of a combination of good “terroir”, the proper tools and a talented winemaker. Floris and Victoria Lemstra have been at Château Canet for ten years, during which time the 19th century cellar has undergone many changes as viticultural techniques evolve. One of the charms of the cellar is the co-existence of the old and the new. The original cellar, built adjacent to the main house in 1871, is still very much in use, and houses the same concrete vats used for the very first harvest, at least in this incarnation, as it is believed that there has been wine production at the estate since Roman times. The modern extension, added five years ago, houses state of the art stainless steel vats and our very own bottling plant, which has a capacity to bottle up to two thousand bottles an hour.
We produce a range of red, rose, and, unusual for the Languedoc region, a couple of award winning white wines. Situated at the very west of the Minervois region, we are lucky that we benefit from the confluence of winds from both the Atlantic and Mediterranean which allow us to grow a selection of white grapes. White wine only accounts for under three percent of total wine production in the Languedoc, so we are fortunate that our geography and terroir allow for this.
The location of the Canet winery at the heart of the domaine surrounded by the vineyards, offers a huge advantage to the wine making process at harvest time. Once harvested the grapes are delivered immediately to the cellar for pressing in perfect condition avoiding lengthy transportation over bumpy vineyard roads.
Canet adheres to the Terra Vitis ethos of wine production, which is essentially the management of resources such as water, energy, air and biodiversity to work towards sustainable viticulture by creating an environmentally friendly wine growing eco system. Floris will always seek a mechanical solution to situations in the vineyard, harvest and wine making processes rather than a chemical one, such as ploughing rather than using weedkiller, and reducing drastically the amount of sulphites used in all processes by the use of nitrogen gas. It’s also the reason we have a couple of hives for honey bees – which also produce delicious Chateau Canet honey!
When the grapes arrive at the winery we use a cold maceration or skin contact maceration technique prior to vinification, allowing the grapes to stew without fermenting at a low temperature. In this way we are able to extract a lot more of the juicy fruit and create great structure and body in the wine, without harsh and often bitter tannins. During the fermentation that follows we monitor our wine closely to ensure that the transformation of sugar into alcohol goes smoothly. We stir when necessary but otherwise we let nature run its course.
Once the fermentation is finished, we mature our wines using a combination of both stainless steel tanks and oak barrels. For example, we vinify and mature 25% of our Chardonnay in new oak barrels from Burgundy, and the balance in stainless steel tanks, half of which have oak staves added. Eight months later the three elements are blended, providing the perfect balance between the complex oak aromas and the pure mineral style of the terroir which is preserved in stainless steel tanks.
We also we mature some our red wines 100% on oak, using barrels of different ages and from different regions of France. In general we use the barrels for 3 successive years allowing us to add a good balance of oak and complexity to the wines. For example 30% of our cuvee Les Evangiles is matured in new oak, 40% in one year old barrels and 30% in 2 year old barrels.
You can see the entire process for yourself on one of our tours, which start in the vineyards themselves, and explain the magical process by which grapes are turned into award winning wines here at Canet; finishing with a wine tasting overlooking our olive grove, accompanied, of course, by our olives, tapenade and olive oil.
For more information visit the Chateau Canet website.