Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

France, Languedoc-Roussillon: Stylish stays and amazing eats with Pays d'Oc wines

As part of my Pays d'Oc wine adventure, a meal at Michelin-starred restaurant La Table de Saint Crescent and at Domaine Gayda happened to be on the cards as well as a very stylish stay at Château St Pierre de Serjac in Puissalicon and a quirky overnight at a barge/hotel.

A Michelin meal at La Table Saint Crescent

The restaurant La Table Saint Crescent( part of a former oratory from the Middle Ages) opened its doors for the first time in 1995 after a major refurbishment.  The imposing building is located on the outskirts of Narbonne, a town full of history, along with the Canal de la Robine.

Since 2008, when Chef Lionel Giraud took over the management of the kitchen, we were told that over the years the place has been continually refurbished, but always in keeping with the building's architectural history. The dining room is modern, light, airy and elegant. The service was when we visited was exceptional and very knowledgeable.

Our dishes and wine were perfectly matched with Pays D'Oc wines below:

Pays D'Oc wines served with our meal at La Table Saint Crescent

Mackerel in three citrus potato - liquid centre explosion of citrus juice

Dry olive, fruits and citrous sphere that was another fun explosion eat!

Crisp tapioca very finely sliced  monkfish chicks , sesame oil, wood vines on top

Pays d'Oc wine with our starters

Fish soup  - I loved it!  Super filling, very tasty and so pretty

Well, what can I say I ate almost all before taking the picture It was amazing!  Celeriac remoulade coffee from Ethiopia nuts mushroom and mustard leaf croutons

Lobster, Cabbage,  local fortified sweet red wine (Banyuls) reduction - This dish was paired with a full bodies red wine from Pays d'Oc -  - Yes, seafood and red wine and it worked a treat!
Palate cleanser : citrous meringue - refreshing and I thought that was dessert ....

Dessert: Light citrus ice cream with chocolate crumble and dark chocolate mousse berries and edible flowers - Chocolate is always a good idea!  a beauty of dish and delicious!
I really enjoyed this Michelin meal - highly recommended.  
La Table de Saint Crescent in Narbonne
T: +33 4 68 41 37 37

Dinner at Domaine Gayda in Brugairolles with Pays D'Oc wines

Located about 20km from Carcassonne, Chef Jean-Christophe Gille is serving delightful food in a very welcoming atmosphere with stylish decor and stunning views of the organic vineyards.   We were taken around the cellars by  Tim Ford, co-owner of  Domaine Gayda,  and his fabulous wife, Barbara.  We heard so many interesting histories of how they met, how Tim end up in Africa and Barbara eventually followed him.  I could've stayed at that table hearing the history of the Domaine and their own stories for days. It was a great dinner with fantastic food and great company.  I love learning and hearing the behind the scenes facts and anecdotes from the  wine producers.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated, quite modern and very spacious. Service was cordial. I was told they have a huge New Years Eve party every year. 

The meal 
All made in the premisses and look that branded butter
Pea soup and wasabi- light and refreshing

Brandade  and pickled onion - Brandade is a
emulsion of salt cod and olive oil this one had a sharp pickled onion on top - nice touch

Foie gras lentils bacon, Toast and cream horseradish paired with Gayda  Chenin Blanc - The sweet and sour of the wine cut through the fatty and delectable Foie and being a lentil lover I  really enjoyed this dish. Never thought of the combination of lentil, bacon and foie - always learning something different.

Mushroom and  Hazelnuts, cod,  fish eggs and mash olive oil - that mash potato was a dream... not for the fainted hearted.

Local beef, potato fondant, ceps and  celeriac paired with Cabernet Franc- Figure Libre 2015 - the wine cherry, cassis notes and spices. Elegant, full-bodied and perfect pairing with this hearty meat dish.

Apple chestnut cream (Creme de Marron) apple compote  and French toast nice looking dessert!

Cheeses: Comte,  bethmale, ewe coulommiers and quince - I enjoyed the local cheeses.

This place is a wine and food  lovers dream!

Domaine Gayda
Chemin de Moscou
11300 Brugairolles
Phone: +33(0)4 68 20 65 87

Stylish stays in the Languedoc-Roussillon to explore Pays D'Oc wines

Château St Pierre de Serjac in Puissalicon

Who wants to stay in a Château? A majestic Château estate overlooking its working vineyards, it features a hotel, a restaurant, a spa and luxury self-catering properties set in 200 acres of beautiful Mediterranean countryside in the Languedoc, South of France. The property has self-catering properties with private terraces and gardens, and some even come with private heated swimming pools. 

There's also a very swish restaurant and bar in the property serving Pays d'Oc wines too.  A very beautiful , stylish and peaceful place to stay in the region.

An underground cellar in the Chateau - Yes please!

Infinity pool overlooking the vineyard

My room

The view from my room
The restaurant at Château St Pierre de Serjac

Foie Gras, cherry and green apple

Juicy and tender beef tenderloin very nicely cooked for my taste

Alphonsia Maria Barge - chambres & tables d'hotes  in Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone

The barge is almost a hundred years old, it's  an authentic Dutch vessel of 110 feet long. It was built in 1913 in the Netherlands and remained in service until 1998.

In its heyday,  it transported cereals along the small canals all over Northern Europe. Over the past 90 years, the ship has gone through various transformations. First, Alphonsia Maria was built as a sailing boat. However, in 1926, the main mast was taken down and replaced by an engine. Nowadays it's been modernised and is privately owned. It's used as unique accommodation with 4 bedrooms owned and catered by Yann LABAT. 

The barge is quite comfortable and very well equipped with all modern amenities. 
If you like quirky and different place to stay with charm this is a place for you! I loved it. 

They provide wi-fi, bicycles, fishing rods, balls of petanque and canoes as well as breakfast and evening meals. There is also a 150 sqm terrace with a swimming pool, solarium, couch and an outdoor dining area.

We had a Pays D'Oc wine tasting on the deck overlooking the Canal Du Midi with a splendid sunset as the background.  What could be more perfect? The local oysters for the aperitif were caught that morning just a few kilometres away. 

 The evening menu costs €28 and includes an aperitif, appetiser, entree,  and dessert (wine and coffee)
 Lunch from €15: Live oyster tasting, from the Bassin de Thau, delivered daily by the producer, salads and a board of prawns.
Transfers to airport or train station from €25.
I stayed in the "Madame Marguerite" room with a modern shower room including an excellent hair dryer! 
(all prices 2017)

Alphonsia Maria Barge
(nearest city Montpellier : 10 km)
t: +33 (0) 695827441

Disclosure: I was a guest of Pays D'Oc IGP. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Pays d'Oc, wine adventure in Languedoc-Roussillon

wine adventure in Languedoc-Roussillon with Pays d'Oc

This adventure took me to back to France to learn more about wine. Not being a wine expert myself I am finding it increasingly educational and it includes many aspects of wine tourism.  You learn so much in the field, seeing the vineyards, meeting the people behind the wines and, of course, tasting the wines. You also gain an understanding of the soil (terroir) and food and wine pairings as well as getting to know new varietals and a whole new language that comes with wine education.  It's very helpful when ordering from the wine menu at any restaurant; it enables you to order what you like or choose to be adventurous by trying new or unknown wines.

It also takes the pressure off ordering or understanding the sommelier when they are explaining the wine to you - no more blank or inquisitive faces! 

History of Pays D'Oc wines 

France is one of the oldest wine producers in the world. Wine classifications were established in 1855 in preparation for the Great International Exposition in Paris; a regional appellation system was developed.   Within two years of the rating system being published, wine sales by the classified producers increased by 250 percent. With the expansion of the wine trade and export came increases in wine fraud, whereby secondary wines were labelled as superior wines, or secondary wines were blended with the wines of established producers. Therefore,  France has one of the oldest denomination systems for wine in the world, many other European systems have been modelled on it.

'French law classifies wine into four groups, two under the European Union's Table Wine group and two falling under the EU's Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR) designation'
The categories are:

Table Wine: Vin de table carries with it only the producer and the designation that it's from France.

Vin de pays (country wine), Carries with it a particular region within France

QWPSR  Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region 

Appellation Controlee (AC) -  A local wine within a region

Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC) Indicates a specific vineyard

Vin de Pays d'Oc comes from The Languedoc region. Blessed with an exceptionally sunny climate and located near the Mediterranean Sea, the Vin de Pays d'Oc is a regional 'Vin de Pays'  (country wine) from the Languedoc-Roussillon and stretches over four departments in Languedoc-Roussillon: Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault and the Gard. 

A luscious and natural combination of steep slopes, rugged peaks, vineyards with rocky garrigue vegetation* and the sea, the Pays d’Oc region has a Mediterranean climate which embraces the vines with its dry and windswept soils.
 *-  low-growing vegetation on the limestone hills of the Mediterranean coast,  dry and rugged ground with bushes of fragrant plants that grow wild such as juniper, thyme, rosemary and lavender.

This region is the largest single 'Vin de Pays' and is the prime source of France's varietal wines. The majority of wines are red with a few white and rosé wines on offer. The region is the greatest vineyard in the world and the leading world producer of varietal wine grapes from other French regions such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.  As the vines embrace the land from which they are grown (terroir), the grape varieties manifest themselves differently depending on the climate, exposure and soils.

Pays d’Oc’s patchwork of wine-growing areas creates an expression of these grape varieties that is unique.  Through the centuries they have produced high-quality wines that reflect the Pays d’Oc’s typicity of its geographical provenance and of the grape variety (or varieties) from which it is made. Vin de Pays d'Oc wines are labelled by the principal grape variety.

IPG Pays d'Oc

Pays d’Oc IGP - Protected Geographical Indication is a quality label that indicates that the wines have been exclusively produced in the Languedoc-Roussillon and have been accepted and approved by the Pays d’Oc Wine Producers Union.

'The label is awarded to wines that meet strict production quality criteria. The wine must also display typical Pays d’Oc characteristics. 92% of all Pays d’Oc IGP wines are varietal wines'.  The first bottles labelled Pays d’Oc were released in 1987, later to become Protected Geographical Indication wines in 2009.

Buying Pays d'Oc wines is easy just check the labels.  It is specified either front or back label.

Some of the Pays d'Oc wineries and vineyards I visited

A variety of vineyards and wineries, from small producers to co-operatives. 

A Visit and tasting Moulin de Gassac (Daumas Gassac)  in Aniane 

Haute vallée du Gassac, 34150 Aniane, France

Using sheep to manage grass and weeds in vineyards. It’s an efficient and cost-effective way to remove unwanted vegetation.  The sheep is removed after a certain time. If the sheep eat the vines too, that could be a problem! 

The place used to be an abandoned farmhouse nestling on the bend of a pine bordered lane. Owned by the Daumas family bought by Aimé and Véronique Guibert bought in the 70's and first harvest of red in 1978.  it is set  in the heart of a beautiful, unspoilt valley which runs the Gassac river.
A stunning setting  for a vineyard.

tasting Pays D'Oc wines at Daumas Gassac

Domaines Paul Mas in Montagnac 

D5, Route de villeveyrac, 34530 Montagnac, France
Phone: +33 4 67 90 16 10

As described by Jean-Claude Mas: “Luxe Rural” (Everyday Luxury) sums up our culture and philosophy. With the greatest respect for our rural roots, we aim for perfection. Our wines are the result of our mission to inspire real emotions.'
Wine tasting and having the opportunity to watch Jean-Claude blending the wines - very special.

Paul Mas

 Jean-Claude Mas blending wines

Beautiful lunch at Côté Mas Jean-Claude Mas showcased his wines paired with food 

 A place  for people who enjoys food, wine and beautiful surroundings. A very well decorated space with stunning views, very tasty  and well presented  dishes.

'Every lunch starts with bubbles at Côté Mas'
Delicious lamb wrap

a well cooked risotto and fresh sea bass

perfect ending : Petit Gateau

Tasting Domaine de la Provenquière in Capestang

La Provenquière, 34310 Capestang, France
Phone:+33 4 67 90 54 73 

One of the most atmospheric places I've been in a long time in France  - truly beautiful  and the best thing they have some very good wines including their white wine the P Sémillon Vermentino  -  Semillon / Vermentino grapes - Blanc 2015.

 'The main house is actually a castle, dating from the 15th century, and was owned by Jean Provenquier, Marquis de Puisserguier. In the 18th Century,  it was transformed into its present state by Paul Teissonière, Councilor of Napoleon III, who acquired it in 1860.
The Robert family became the owners in 1954. The vineyard, with an area of ​​155 hectares, is spread over three communes. ' 

The varietals allow the production of a wide range of Pays d'Oc wines, in white, rosé and red. This place is amazing!

Tasting  at  Domaine Calmel & Joseph in Montirat

chemin de la Madone, 11800 Montirat, France

 'Creators of great wines in Languedoc-Roussillon' 

What a gorgeous place for  a wine tasting! Modern and very stylish. Calmel & Joseph is located in Montirat in the Languedoc-Roussillon  only  5.6 miles from Carcassonne.

 Calmel & Joseph is located in Montirat in the Languedoc-Roussillon Region, 5.6 miles from Carcassonne. Set in an immaculate verdant area just a few miles from Carcassone this property boasts 160 hectares. They have accommodation with swimming pool, sauna and other amenities. Unfortunately, we didn't stay here - perhaps next time when in Carcassone.  We had a comprehensive tasting of Pays D'Oc wines including the Villa Blanche Marselan  part of the  Pays d'Oc wines IGP Collection.

They provide group tastings: contact to discuss requirements

Jerome Joseph co-owner of Calmel & Joseph

Villa Blanche Marselan - part of the  Pays d'Oc wines IGP Collection

The wines we tasted at Calmel & Joseph

Domaine Gayda in Brugairolles  

Chemin de Moscou, 11300 Brugairolles, France
Phone: +33 4 68 20 65 87

Harvest and sorting of their grapes are done by hand to precise guidelines.
Vinification is done by using the most updated equipment
The barrel aged wines are matured in French Oak for 9 to 24 months under controlled temperatures.
Blending is the most important process.  The vinification is done  separately to produce the best expression of the terroirs
Bottling is done in the Domaine at high standards.

They also have a beautiful restaurant serving amazing food and obviously great wines!


A wine co-operative produces and sells wine made from the grapes grown by its members. It centralises tasks such as wine making, storage, selling, and, in some cases, the bottling process. Each co-operative vinifies grapes separately from their own specific vineyards. They are later sold under different names (château, domaine) or grapes that are selected for their particular qualities or growing process' (organic) or terroir.

Tasting Vignerons du Narbonnais in Ouveillan 

 3 Rue Coluche, 11590 Ouveillan, France
Phone: +33 4 68 46 81 45

Created  in  1936,  Ouveillan  Cellar,  located  at  12km  from  Narbonne,  takes  advantage  of  an  exceptional  local  soil  which  stretches  for  more  than 2500 hectares. Today gathered under the name  of  Vignerons  du  Narbonnais, it has about  330  membersThe cheer size of this operation is incredible.

All these wines retail in the UK: Dumanet Viognier Blanc 20116
        Les Estimes Chardonnay Viognier Blanc 2016
        South Emotion Vermentino Blanc 2016

Visit and tasting Cave de l’Ormarine in Pinet    

9 Chemin de l'Amour, 34660 Cournonterral, France

This wine tasting took place in the vineyard overlook the sea and the vast greenery  of The Languedoc  and the Bassin de Thau

Pays d’Oc IGP Collection 2016

The Pays d'Oc wines IGP Collection is an exclusive list of  refined and sophisticated wines of the area; this collection defines the high-end Pays d'Oc IGP wines.  The wines are selected by a group of wine professionals. This year collection :

The white wines

« Le Prestige »
 - Chardonnay - Blanc 2015
Collines du Bourdic

« Figure Libre Chenin Blanc »
 - Chenin blanc - Blanc 2014,
Domaine Gayda

« P Sémillon Vermentino »
 - Semillon / Vermentino - Blanc 2015,
Domaine La Provenquiere

« Mas des Tannes Grenache Blanc »
 - Grenache blanc - Blanc- 2015
Domaines Paul Mas

« Beauvignac »
- Chardonnay - Blanc 2015
Les Costieres de Pomerols

« Grenache-Viognier »
- Grenache Blanc / Viognier - Blanc 2015
Mas de Madame

« Muscat sec »
- Muscat à petits grains - Blanc 2015
Mas de Madame

« Vignoble Peyroli »
 - Chardonnay - Blanc 2013
Mas La Chevaliere

« Grenache- Viognier »
Les Hauts de Janeil
Grenache blanc / Viognier 2015
Mas Janeil

The red wines

« Cuvée Nicole »
 - Assemblage - Rouge 2013

Alma Cersius
« Terra Patres »
- Assemblage -
Rouge- 2012

Calmel & Joseph
« Villa Blanche Marselan »
 - Marselan - Rouge- 2014

Condamine Bertrand
« Elixir »
 - Assemblage - Rouge- 2014

Domaine de Brau
« Pure Pinot Noir »
- Pinot Noir - Rouge- 2015

Domaine de la Baume
« Syrah - La Jeunesse »
 - Syrah - Rouge- 2015

« entre nous selon Valensac »
 - Petit Verdot - Rouge- 2014

Domaine du Grand Chemin
« JMF »
 - Cabernet-Sauvignon / Pinot Noir - Rouge- 2014

Domaine du Grand Chemin
« Clos Rogé »
- Assemblage - Rouge- 2013

« Amano »
- Syrah / Grenache - Rouge - 2013

Domaine Gayda
« Chemin de Moscou »
 - Assemblage -Rouge - 2013

Vignobles Foncalieu 
« Le Versant Syrah »
 - Syrah - Rouge 2015

Mas du Salagou
« Cinérite »
 - Assemblage - Rouge 2013

Next time: Where to stay to explore Pays d'Oc wines in style and amazing eats in The Languedoc.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Pays d'OC IGP at this trip. All views are my own.

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