This morning we rode our bicycles into Carcassonne to pick up some warm croissants and sweet white peaches for breakfast, and to shop for lunch and dinner items. After devouring our breakfast, we started up the barge and decided to continue on our way up the Canal beyond Carcassonne. Our first locks were in the center of town, where we ran through our flawless technique with an audience of plenty of curious onlookers. We cruised for a little while, until we found a good spot to moor the barge and to partake in a luncheon of charcuterie, cheese, a rustic baguette, plump purple grapes, and a delicious Minervois wine. From the beginning of our barge trip, all along the Canal we had been watching grapes being harvested, and saw large piles of grape debris created after the must was expressed from them, and we could detect the yeasty smell of the grapes being processed into wine. We spent the afternoon riding our bicycles past fields of grape vines in search of a winery that was listed in the Guide Map that we ordered when we reserved our barge. The weather was starting to change, with clouds blocking out the bright sunshine that we had been enjoying each day, but it was good bicycling weather for climbing the small hills where we found Château Auzias in Pennautier, not too far from Carcassonne.
Château Auzias in Cabardès
The ruby-red wines we tasted were Syndicat d’ A.O.C. Cabardès, which requires a minimum of 40% Atlantic grape varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, etc.) blended with a minimum of 40% Mediterranean grape varieties (Syrah and Grenache, etc.). Since Mike favors the Atlantic varietals, while Dave and I lean more toward the Mediterranean, all three of us enjoyed these wine, so we ended up buying a combination of 2000 Cuvée Gloria Mundi (25% Grenache Noir, 15% Syrah, 30% Merlot, 28% Cabernet, 2% Alicante), 2003 Cuvée Monsieur (25% Grenache Noir, 35% Merlot, 25% Cabernet, 5% Cinsault, 5% Alicante), and Cuvée Petits Messieurs (25% Grenache Noir, 15% Syrah, 35% Merlot, 20% Cabernet). Unfortunately, we really couldn’t handle any more than just a few bottles, since only two of us had baskets on our bicycles, and I had, embarrassingly enough, already fallen off my bicycle once on the rutty lane along the Canal, on our way to the winery. Although these wines are supposed to go best with charcuterie and grilled meats, the Cuvée Petits Messieurs went perfectly with tonight’s dinner of Farfalle All’Arrabiata.