Château Canet Dinner At 63 Degrees
We kicked things off in real style with the Vignobles Canet Picpoul De Pinet Tête De Cuvée, served as an apéritif with a selection of crudités and seafood canapés. Unfortunately, these all disappeared before I had chance to take a picture, but here's Floris waxing lyrical about the fresh, minerally joys of Picpoul De Pinet as we took our seats.
Around 80% of all Picpoul is produced by co-operatives so an estate produced example such as this is something of a rarity. In fact, it punches so far above its weight and it was the wine of the evening for several people. Talk about peaking too soon!
The first course of mackerel escabeche with fennel and orange was beautifully accompanied by the zesty Château Canet Minervois Blanc - another unusual wine as only 5% of the Minervois appellation's output is white. There is a reason for the half-eaten plate of food in the photograph below: it could have been an artistic decision on the part of the precociously talented photographer or it could be because yours truly forgot to take the picture before tucking in. I'll let you decide.
The Château Canet Minervois Rouge was up next, paired with the signature dish of Eric Moreau and 63 Degrees: beautifully moist and flavoursome chicken slow roasted at a temperature of sixty three degrees, served with wild mushrooms, mushroom cream sauce and potato purée. Floris' red Minervois is a little atypical for the appellation as it is made in a slightly lighter bodied, fresher style, retaining its beautifully juicy berry fruit and its vibrant acidity. It was a triumph with the flavours of the chicken and the mushrooms.
With the main course came the first of the Canet big guns. Floris' top two wines are both single variety reds: one a Syrah, one a Grenache. With Syrah being the more upright, firmly structured of the two we naturally paired this with the lamb main course and the slightly softer, fruitier Grenache with the subsequent cheese course. This, however, did not meet with Floris' approval - serve the Grenache with the lamb and the Syrah with the cheese he stated. We must admit to being somewhat sceptical at his proposed running order, even asking him to confirm that he had the wine pairings the right way round, but he reiterated his instructions and we all shrugged in a most Gallic fashion. Given that he makes the wines, we had to assume he was well aware of which foods paired with them best. Needless to say we shouldn't have worried.
Low yielding 85 year old Grenache vines were coaxed into producing the ripe, concentrated grapes that ended up in the Château Canet Minervois La Chapelle. Despite the quality of the fruit they provide, these vines have now become so low yielding and difficult to manage that they are about to be grubbed up and a replanting program begun. This vintage is actually the final incarnation of La Chapelle, at least for the foreseeable future, but in true superstar fashion it left the crowd wanting more. Heady, concentrated and surprisingly fresh for such a full bodied wine, it was delicious with the rack of lamb, potato dauphinoise and mint jus. Full marks to Eric and his kitchen brigade for bringing all of their skills to bear: it was no mean feat that all 36 of us enjoyed perfectly pink lamb with the rich and sweetly fruited Grenache.
The cheese saw Floris' final wine of the evening, and possibly his crowning glory as a winemaker. The Château Canet Minervois Les Evangiles was the yin to the La Chapelle's yang: a savoury, dark and brooding Syrah, gently oaked, that rounded the evening off in regal style. For my tastes, we really had saved the best until last.
We'd like to thank Floris for taking the time to visit us and for showing off his wines and it would be remiss of us not to heartily thank Eric, Alex and the entire 63 Degrees team once again for all of their hard work in making this event such a success.
Hopefully we've whetted your appetite for our next winemaker dinner at 63 Degrees: we have Nicolas Bureau from Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch joining us on Thursday 26th May. You can learn all about it and buy one of the few remaining tickets by clicking here!