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AOP Saint-Chinian: relive the five highlights of the appellation’s 40th anniversary

AOP Saint-Chinian celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2022. This Sunday May 15 and Monday May 16, the syndicate organized a big party at Château de Sériège, in Cruzy, in the presence of winegrowers and many guests. Tasting workshops, conferences, gala meals and masterclasses punctuated this festive weekend between shale and limestone.

1 – Geosensory tasting and masterclass of the Virtuosos

A geosensory tasting proposed by Julien Camus.
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Forget what you know and let yourself be guided: this is the principle of the geosensory tasting proposed by Julien Camus. The founder of the Wine Scholar Guild, some fifteen years ago in the United States, led several tasting workshops this Sunday at the Château de Sériège in Cruzy, for the 40th anniversary of the Saint-Chinian appellation, with an original reading grid centered on the “mouth touch”. Exit the sight, the smell and the palate – holy triptych of the tasting – place in a kinesthetic perception in order to “knowing how to express what characterizes a terroir wine”. Consistency, texture, fluidity, grain are thus qualified by simple words which give a glimpse of the pleasure of tasting differently.

The technique, confusing at first, pays off. Drinkability and complexity are more easily apprehended. Those who let their senses go even perceive the difference between the shale or limestone terroirs from which the cuvées come. Saint-Chinian, straddling Faugères (schists) and Minervois (limestone), is fortunate to combine the different types of soils in its appellation. A soil over 70 million years old, the secrets of which geologist Luc David was to reveal after each tasting, as during a geotour on Monday morning…

Andrew Jefford, for his part, led a tasting around the Virtuosos prize list. Taster and journalist for Decanter, he won over his audience with his poetic verve around one of the finest regional appellations.

It is thus by surprising its professional guests, wine merchants and restaurateurs, through various workshops and conferences, that the Saint-Chinian appellation wanted to celebrate its 40th anniversary. A successful birthday.

2 – Why do we drink wine: an explosive conference

Fabrizio Bucella, physicist and sommelier, an explosive cocktail.

Fabrizio Bucella, physicist and sommelier, an explosive cocktail.
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The author Fabrizio Bucella, sommelier and physicist, humorously hosted a conference to find out why we drink wine. One thing is certain, according to him, you can drink a small glass a day… Especially if it’s Saint-Chinian! Professor of physics and sommelier, this professor at the University of Brussels has written several books on wine. If the average consumption figure amounts to 44 liters per year and per inhabitant, this figure is not very revealing since it includes the general population. The Vatican is thus the biggest consumer of wine in the world with 62 liters per year and per inhabitant. The author then has fun reviewing these animals that like fermented foods and find themselves drunk in spite of themselves…And to mention the Ptilocercus Lowii, the chimpanzee, the loris…

Common point with the human being: all have the gene A294V, the protein which disintegrates the molecule of ethanol. A genetic mutation that makes it easier to absorb alcohol… “We drink wine because we can do it,” he explains. From umami to sodium glutamate to Brillat-Savarin osmazone, the professor delighted his audience.

3 – Videos half shale half limestone

Two actors at the service of the AOC.

Two actors at the service of the AOC.
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The second season of the mini-series Saint-Chinian Schistes et limestones, shot by Luc Plissonneau, was presented this Sunday. Gloria and Laurent play a young couple of winegrowers, divided between shale and limestone! Many winegrowers lend themselves to the play of actors in order to embody this particularity of the appellation composed of these two types of soil.

4 – A gala dinner

An aperitif in the setting of the splendid Château de Sériège.

An aperitif in the setting of the splendid Château de Sériège.
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The event took place in the sumptuous setting of the Château de Sériège, property of the Andoque family, in Cruzy. Marquees had been set up in the park to host the masterclasses. The entrance hall of the chateau, a pinardière folly erected in 1884, was occupied by the winegrowers of the appellation who each had two cuvées tasted. The opportunity to exchange with the guests and between friends.

Kléber Mesquida took part in this anniversary at the heart of the appellation.

Kléber Mesquida took part in this anniversary at the heart of the appellation.
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5 – Gourmet stroll Sunday June 5

On Sunday June 5, a seven-kilometre walk in seven gourmet stages will be offered to the general public with the participation of 25 winegrowers from the appellation. Info on 04 67 38 11 69.

Roger Martin, president of the appellation since 1983.

Roger Martin, president of the appellation since 1983.
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Roger Martin: “Winegrowers must be united to talk about Saint-Chinian”

Can you tell us a bit about the history of this appellation?

These 40 years of the appellation are in fact 75 years of work. The story began in 1947 with the mayors of Causses-et-Veyran, Cessenon and Berlou. In 1952, they obtained that the Saint-Chinian vineyard become a delimited wine of superior quality (VDQS). Then there is the AOC on May 5, 1982the recognition of white wines in 2005 and of the geographical names Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun and Berlou-Saint-Chinian.

These 40 years are a realization. This is the third generation of winegrowers who come up with lots of ideas. Each with its touch; biodynamics, organic, HVE, Terra vitis… There is a lot of evolution. In short, the first generation put the appellation in place. The second knew how to establish it, especially in the 90s when many cellars settled and brought notoriety. The third generation arrives with youth and another touch on the farming method and winemaking.

Your birthday is based on the duality of shale and limestone. Why ?

In 2019, with the madness of quarantine approaching, we relaunched all communication. We used this duality of shale and limestone, which is not always easy to explain. And we want to highlight it.

How is the appellation?

I have been elected since 1983 in Saint-Chinian. I have seen quite a few lively meetings and many people who have done this work, fought and we owe them this notoriety. Today, everything is fine.

What are the prospects?

We have to adapt to global warming. Adapt certain grape varieties and prefer heritage grape varieties. We are working on that. We must also, through winter reservoirs, allow reasoned irrigation. We are also in the process of recruiting a new director. We also need to expand our range of whites. And communicate, communicate again and again. It is also necessary that all the winegrowers are united to speak Saint-Chinian… This is not always the case.

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