I just saw off the last of my Cabernet Day friends. It’s been a real blast.
Seeing Local Winemakers
2010 was a really heartwarming Cabernet Day because it was one of the first events I organized to really get a great deal of support from local grape growers and winemakers. I was worried about 2011 because the slightly early harvest means a lot of winemakers are too busy to celebrate with us.
Some winemakers managed to send samples to be tasted in their absence. Notably, Gerard Bertrand sent a few bottles of his Cabernet Franc from Cigalus. That’s a big name in the region and I’m so excited that he decided to participate. And everybody enjoyed tasting the wine while watching high def video footage of the Corbieres vineyard from a helicopter! Bling bling. We’ve come a long way from #Cabernetday’s humble beginnings. ;D
I was also really pleased to see some winemakers tore themselves away from harvest to come in person. And they brought wines! Which is also very exciting because a lot of the growers around here are very shy and don’t like promoting their own wine. I’m very proud of them for coming out and braving a mostly anglophone audience to help share some of the Cabernet love.
Sharing with Anglophones
And it should be noted that this year was VERY English-speaking. Many English families retire to this region around Carcassonne, and I feel like they make up a really strong community that will enjoy a lot of local wines. Probably 90% of the attendees were speaking in English.
And I’ll add that almost everybody tonight was a wine novice, which is great. I was happy to have a very professional/wine trade crowd in 2010. But I’m even happier to share the joys of Cabernet with an amateur/novice crowd. People who just love life in the south of France and want to drink some good local wine.
We got to spend a lot of time sharing simple winemaker pleasures like “how to taste grapes for ripeness“. We all went out to the rows of Cabernet Sauvignon and tasted how the fruit was coming along. Chewed the skins and seeds separately. Talked about the importance of sugar and phenolics.
It was a lot of fun because we had a huge deal of neighborhood support. I’m getting too mushy, but it felt wonderful to have such a big block party here at O’Vineyards all around some Cabernet.
Lots of good friends!
2011″s Cab Day turned out very different from 2010 here in the Languedoc, so I’m anxious to hear everybody’s reports. I hope everybody has a piece of the magic we had here in the Languedoc Roussillon! Thanks again to Rick Bakas for organizing a wonderful Cab Day.
Jancis just did a write up on varietal days (eg Cabernet Day, Grenache Day, Champagne Day) and I’ll admit that it seems like every day of the year might soon have a varietal celebration associated with it. Like patron saints of wine-drinking. Not just Saint Vincent anymore.
Jancis’ Article on Grape Days
In her article, I pick up on two very different messages. On the one hand, Jancis acknowledges that the celebration of certain varietals seems a little commercially motivated. For example, Cabernet Day was conceived and brought to fruition somewhat autocratically by Rick Bakas, the social media engineer at St Supery, and it’s a day devoted to a varietal that already has a lot of notoriety when it comes from the right side of the tracks (in this case the right side is the Left Bank). People ask “Does Cabernet need a day?” and I kind of get that vibe from bits of Jancis’ writing.
On the other hand, she managed to use this day in a very personal way. She opened a bottle of Figeac and toasted the passing of its winemaker who was so proud of his unique contribution to Cabernet Sauvignon on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. And this is why Cabernet Day was good. We found ways to personalize and celebrate delicious wines.
My Thoughts on Grape Days
And I think this mirrors my experience. I’m going to reiterate how happy I am with the Cabernet Day celebration we had at O’Vineyards and around the world. We didn’t know how the day would turn out, but we ended up surrounded by neighbors and friends and enjoying some really delicious wines that showed off totally different expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon.
And people around the world cheered us on. Americans trapped in the office in the early afternoon could see us sipping as the sun set in the south of France. And as the French started to get sleepy, folks on the west coast of the United States popped corks in their time zone where the party was just starting.
I’m just so happy. I want to say I’m proud, but it’s hard to be proud in the face of such a massive, humbling event. Next to the work of all those winemakers (and don’t forget how much promotional work goes in on the part of Rick Bakas and all the event organizers around the world), what did I really do? I just threw a little party and drank some good wine.
And next to my neighbors who have been working here for generations or names like Thierry Manoncourt who made Jancis’ Figeac, a newly arrived winemaker like me starts to feel pretty small and unimportant.
These days can be important
Anyway, I know it seems like the varietal days are piling up fast, one after the other. And I personally have to question who decided to put them all right before the northern hemisphere’s harvest, a very busy time of year. But I hope that varietal celebrations don’t become trivial. I hope that people go beyond novelty.
Whether you use these days as an excuse to open a special bottle that you really cherish or you use them as an opportunity to explore a varietal you don’t know very well, the important thing is that you’re attaching real emotions to these wines. Drinking wine is fun, but it’s also effortlessly profound.
Next up: Grenache Day
Anyway, enough waxing poetic. Grenache Day is coming up on September 24th. I don’t make any Grenache, but I love to drink it. The Languedoc-Roussillon does a great job with it. I’ve been looking forward to the day ever since it was proposed at the Grenache Symposium held at Chene Bleu. I’ve been told that some other folks in the region are already organizing stellar events.
I personally will strive to swing down to Domaine Gayda and check out their Grenache Day celebration. A workshop with Vinecole followed by a cuve tasting at Gayda with the winemaker. If I can’t go there, I’ll surely be celebrating at dinner with some of my favorite Grenaches. After seeing all the energy and enthusiasm at the Grenache Symposium, I know just how important September 24th is to all the people involved with this grape. From the growers to the winemakers to the writers and the sales people and NEVER FORGET the drinkers… And I hope you all find a way to make the day personal by opening a special bottle of Grenache or by raising your Grenache awareness.
Thanks again to everybody who makes these celebrations possible. Amazing, tireless winemakers, promoters, and wine-lovers.
Well it’s past midnight so I can start reminiscing about Cabernet Day. In part, that means sniffing empty bottles and thinking about opening more. But the part of me that’s still sober is neurotically over-analyzing the event, and maybe I can bring you some fun conclusions about Cabernet Day and the Languedoc.
If you know me, you know I’m a fan of the Languedoc so I was really happy to use Cabernet Day as an opportunity to communicate on some of the wonderful Cabernet made in this region. A lot of the time, we’re more known for our mass produced lowland Cab, which is a shame, because we have some stellar examples of Super Cabs.
I thought tonight would be a chance to get a few friends together to drink Cab and Internet-users would be able to tune in and see that folks in the Languedoc are drinking Cabernet and loving it.
I was overwhelmed by the support I got. My neighbors from Chateau Jouclary and Pennautier and Auzias and Rivals and la Cave de Cavanac. That’s a huge honor because these folks have been making wine longer than me. A couple of them were even crucial in forming the AOC Cabardes.
Anyway, it was really great to see them because it’s tough to get locals motivated sometimes. People often say “never a prophet in his own land” or something like that. I think it’s a biblical proverb. Anyway, I feel like sometimes my neighbors don’t want to accept that there is a huge opportunity on the Internet. Well tonight they proved me wrong by demonstrating an exemplary curiosity that can move this whole region forward.
Also, I think it should be noted somewhat humorously how far I missed the mark on planning this event. I set up a big TV with a feed of all the tweets about Cabernet Day. But this didn’t really mean anything to about 80% of the people who came because they had no idea what Twitter was. So we talked a fair amount about social networks and real time media. It made for fun conversations. I was blowing their minds.
But probably the biggest mind blowing experience for me was encountering a journalist who told me he remembered the pre-war owners of this vineyard. PRE WAR? Which war you ask? The War of ’39. He actually called it that. This VERY interesting man told me all sorts of things about my vineyard. It warrants its own post on a later date. I thought the guy was going to interview me because he was a journalist. But in fact, he knew so much about this property, I ended up interviewing him. It was really great learning some of the back story on this very interesting piece of land.
Anyway, I’m rambling. Because I’m tired. And drunk. But the point is that there were some great exchanges. I’m really happy with the wonderful night we had around some glasses of Cabernet. A big thanks to Rick Bakas for organizing this whole thing. A big thanks to everybody who came. And the biggest thanks to all those brave souls out there who honestly make the best Cabernet they can.
Cabernet Day is tomorrow! September 2nd. The wines and last minute RSVPs are filing in.
And you can still come too! I hope a lot of you swing by Domaine O’Vineyards tomorrow starting around 19h00. We’ll have some stellar wines open. You can show up earlier, but we’ll put you to work. ;D
For those of you who cannot come in person, you can still follow along on the live streaming broadcasts. I’ll have a laptop set up to broadcast a live stream through Live That Languedoc, my ustream channel.
I finally got the flastcreen set up to show cascading tweets all hashtagged with #Cabernet Day. So you had best be tweeting your little hearts out. Tweet til the Cab ripens!
Or if you don’t tweet, feel free to leave a comment in this post or in other posts about Cabernet Day.
See you all tomorrow!
When I first heard about Cabernet Day, my immediate reaction was to jump on board. And I kind of assumed that everybody would follow me unquestioningly… but there have been some questions, rightfully posed, as to why exactly I’m hosting a Cab Day event in the Languedoc. I want to take a moment to explain what Cabernet Day is and why I want lots of people to participate.
On September 2nd, a bunch of people around the world will drink Cabernet Sauvignon and talk about it online. A lot of the talking will happen in real life too at special events organized in wineries around the world. But a lot MORE of the talking will be happening online.
Some will blog, and even more will casually tweet with the hashtag #Cabernet. It’s called a tweetup (twitter meetup … I really hate web-related portmanteaus). And while I personally wanted to have a real-life party, the success of Cab Day will largely be measured by the participation on Twitter and the rest of the online chatter channels.
Cab Day is about celebrating the grape varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, a varietal that is so popular it seems like it doesn’t really need to have a party. So I guess that’s why some people are asking me “Do we need a Cab Day?” and “Why are we doing Cabernet?”
I’m gonna answer these questions in two parts. Part 1, since when do we have to attach moral imperatives to wine parties? Part 2, I need to communicate how awesome Languedoc Cabernet is.
Why people want crazy moral imperatives to party? – A lot of the people who are really into tweetups are also into promoting obscure varietals and communicating on more esoteric themes than Cabernet Sauvignon. I like talking about rare grape varietals too, which lets you communicate on themes like authenticity, local culture, history, etc. But I also realize that a mainstream subject can be just as interesting as an obscure one. And more mainstream topics can bring more people into the fold while very obsucre topics can sometimes alienate people who don’t feel “initiated”.
The interesting mainstream topic – The Languedoc is not known for it’s Cabernet Sauvignon. We’re a Mediterranean region and you can’t grow Cabernet just anywhere around here. So the few parts of the Languedoc that do make great Cabernet Sauvignon absolutely must communicate on that. So I’ll try to round up some Cabs from the Malpere, Cabardes, Aniane and so on. Cab Day is going to get a lot of people online who are interested in the grape varietal and we’ll be able to talk about how certain parts of the Languedoc make really great Cab. Sounds like a great opportunity!
And I hope other winemakers and Languedoc fans will take up the banner with me. Come visit on September 2nd or send your friends. We’re gonna drink great wine, have a blast, and it should be a lot of fun!
How to find us
Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
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North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910
Best by GPS.
Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.