Even for France, where tradition runs deep, the story behind Château Canet is a tale that spans centuries. The castle was built in 1126 by Bernard de Canet, who gave his name to the surrounding land in the Minervois region of the Languedoc area.
Almost nine centuries later, the Lemstra-Bake family took over the property, seeing at as an opportunity to fulfil a dream of making great wine. Floris, a Dutchman, previously worked in Burgundy, where he learned his trade in Beaune.
His wife, Victoria, has multi-national roots, having been born in Bangkok of Dutch and New Zealand heritage. She also worked in Beaune where she specialised in luxury travel.
Since taking over Château Canet in 2007, the couple have modernised the facilities, adding a state-of-the-art cellar and a bottling line. Floris follows the principles of Terra Vitis, a French federation of winegrowers who work under strict conditions covering aspects of the production process aimed at protecting the environment and human health. In order to further boost the ecosystem, he runs a three-hectare olive grove where six varieties are grown.
Château Canet aims for a responsible approach in all aspects of its work, including the vineyard, the cellar, the choice of dry materials for bottling and the safety of employees. The use of sulphites is limited by substituting home-produced nitrogen. Meanwhile, to counter the greenhouse gas emissions associated with winemaking, the owners work with sustainable reforestation companies and plant trees around the world.
The estate, close to the medieval town of Carcassonne, benefits from limestone and clay and a climate that is buffeted by both the Cers, a cool wind from the Atlantic, and the warm Marin from the Mediterranean. This combination makes it possible to produce fresh and elegant white wines and rich and fruity reds.
The range includes the sparkling Bulles d'O Blanquette de Limoux. This wine, named after Floris and Victoria’s son Oliver, is packed with fresh white fruit flavours. It is made using 90% Mauzac, 5% Chardonnay and 5% Chenin Blanc grapes and follows the same production process as Champagne, with a second fermentation taking place in the bottle.
Not to be outdone, Oliver’s sister has a range bearing her name, with two reds and two whites. We particularly like the easy drinking Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc versions of the Fleur de Charlotte selection.
We are impressed by the environmental approach and sustainability of Château Canet. And, of course, we love the wine. If you want to see the estate’s approach in action, it’s possible to rent a gite among the vines – managed and run in the same thoughtful manner, of course.