Early morning fog made for some very interesting photo opportunities. Unfortunately I had to cut my “fun” short as we had an appointment for a tour and tasting with a third Opimian supplier and I had to get ready to go.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning for our drive to Clos Cantenac, www.closcantenac.com . Unlike the past two mornings where we were initially a wee bit uncertain if we were at the right place, this morning there was no doubt. A big sign confirmed our arrival.
The winery owner, Martin Krajewski, has a history with Opimian dating back many years. In fact we had attended a winetasting dinner in Edmonton a number of years ago where Martin was the guest of honour and told us about the winery he owned at the time, Chateau de Sours. I recall Martin being both entertaining and very interesting to listen to. Over the years I have bought a number of Chateau de Sours wines. He bought Clos Cantenac in 2007 and has built it up from 1.6 hectares to 6 hectares.
We met Catherine, my contact for arranging the visit, who took us on a tour. Catherine outlined how, since Martin purchased Clos Cantenac, he has not only increased the number of hectares, but has done much to improve the vineyard, modernized the buildings and equipment, and added new buildings. The result is a very modern winery that produces tremendous wines.
The grapes are all hand-picked. We were lucky to have arrived on a day when they were harvesting grapes. Part way through our tour Martin’s daughter Charlotte arrived. Charlotte lives in New Zealand but has been coming over each year for the harvest. The plan seems to be that she will soon move to France to take an active roll in a winery they have recently purchased in Pomerol. She told us that the grapes would be arriving shortly and if we wanted to stick around we could see the initial process of winemaking.
In the meantime we finished off our tour with a look at their barrel room and a small laboratory. Then it was off to the tasting room to sample some wines. On the way, Martin Krajewski arrived so we had a chance to meet him and visit for a few minutes.
In the tasting room, we started off with a rose – L’exuberance. The bottle itself is a work of art and the wine is delicious. It would be a perfect wine to enjoy on the patio. We then moved on to the Petit Cantenac which is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. We finished off with the Clos Cantenac which is 100% Merlot. The Petit Cantenac was a little lighter and fruitier while the Clos Cantenac was more full bodied and bolder. Both were excellent!
Back at the winery the grapes had started to arrive. Catherine and Charlotte together explained the process to us. Because these grapes were destined to be a rose, there was only one sorting table. Normally, for a red, there would be a second sorting table after the destemming. Today the grapes went from the sorting table to the destemming machine then into the press. The juice is pumped into a stainless steel tank which cools it overnight and the process of turning grape juice into wine begins. In all the years that we have toured wineries this is only the second time that we have seen this part of the process so it was very exciting.
After bidding farewell to the very fine folks at Clos Cantenac, it was off to Puisseguin for lunch at Bistro de la Gare. We had the three course fixed menu which was wonderful. It was a beautiful day for sitting in the patio, eating fine food, drinking a bit of local wine, and enjoying the sunshine which has been missing from most of our time in France so far.
We were back at our gîte by mid-afternoon where we had a chance to relax and catch up on some photo editing. Later in the afternoon we enjoyed some of the warm sunshine as we had a great visit with Steve and Rob along with a couple from another one of the gîtes, Ed and Maria from the Netherlands. Shall I say we went through several bottles of rose?!!