Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Winemaker of the Year 2006

My winemaker of the year 2006 goes to, Marc Valette of Domaine Canet-Valette in St. Chinian - a man who literally threw the rule book away, was ridiculed by the established winemakers when he started making wine in the early 1990's for doing things his own way. What he has managed to do however is produce wines of the very finest quality in a small appelation, somewhat off the beaten track. He is a great character, regularly jumping into vats of grapes to press them himself by foot, spraying his crops with what are in essence herbal teas to combat problems that others would reach for the nearest bottle with a heavy duty health warning on. His top dry wine Maghani is magnificent, his lower cuvee "Une et Mille Nuits" is powerful, complex expression of all that St. Chinian should be and his "special" wines made from old, low yielding (15 hl/l) vines such as Ivresses are an experience in themselves. As for "Les Galejades" words cannot express the joy that this brings to the drinker - old, low yielding vines that others would use for making a top cuvee - which he then harvests in December - unorthodoxy is certainly common but the results have turned him from a curiosity in the locality to a man seen as being a true genius.

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