Vanel hails from the Haute Valle de L’Aude which follows the path of the river Aude through Cathar country. Here the mountains reach up to 2000ft above sea level as they rise to form the Pyrenees. At this altitude you will find an unusual addition to the local grapes: Bordeaux’s signature red grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. Flourishing admist this elevated terroir; warmed by the hot Mediterranean sun, tempered by the coolness of the mountains and swept by winds bearing down from the Atlantic Ocean, the Cabernet grown here produces pure and elegant wines. Cabernet is later ripening and is better suited to the heat of the south so it’s not surprising that it has made the journey from Bordeaux to the Aude.
Local producers are quickly making good on Cabernet’s potential in the region and Vanel is made by the local co-operative which is based at Limoux, just 15 miles outside of the historic town of Carcassonne. The co-operative was established in 1946 and wine makers here pioneered plot based terroir selection in this area to take advantage of the rich diversity of the terrain. They select plots on the mountain sides suited specifically to each particular grape’s requirements. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on clay and limestone soil which allow the grape to flourish.
If you enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon then Vanel is a must try. It’s expressive, racy and very approachable. Delicious as a drink on its own it will pair nicely with duck, pork and chicken as well as pizza, roasted bell peppers and vegetarian dishes. It’s great with cheese recipes – try it with onion and goats cheese tart or Roquefort!