As you probably know, wine holds an important role in the culture and economy of France. We live in the middle of the world’s largest wine-growing region and in March attended the wine fair hosted by the high school not far down the road from where we live. Not to be outdone by their comrades, the students at the high school for those who want to enter the restaurant profession organized their own Salon Cité Vins wine tasting and guess who was there when it opened at 10 AM?
Saturdays are the big market day in Carcassonne and we’re almost always there at the main square, even if we don’t need any fresh fruits and vegetables, just because it’s such a beehive of activity. This weekend was no different and since we were already there it just made perfect sense to stop into the 18th century Les Halles buildings where regional wines were being highlighted. For 3 euro per person we each got a souvenir stemmed glass that we could take to over 20 different vintner’s tables to sample the labors of their fruits, if you will. I knew we were in trouble (our budget, that is) when, after the first taste from the first table we visited, Bill exclaimed “That’s the best rosé we’ve had since we arrived in France” and he was right.
To their credit, each vendor that we visited brought their best to this show. Most offered a range of whites, reds, and rosés and we bought at least a bottle from many of the booths where we stopped. (Buying notes for the really inquisitive will appear at the bottom of this post.) We knew for sure that we were in good company when we were followed table to table by the owner of our favorite wine store in town. She prides herself on finding the tastiest local wines and this was apparently the place to do so as we saw her order case after case of the vintages we had just tasted.
With little room left in our backpacks for more bottles, it was time to move on to the next tasting. It’s France, it was a Saturday, and we were walking, so why not? Our real estate agent had invited us to join her and her family at a wine tasting at a bistro conveniently located directly behind Les Halles so we simply walked out the back door and, despite the sizable crowd already gathered, quickly found ourselves surrounded by handshakes, kisses on the cheek, and warm greetings of bienvenu (welcome) from her friends and loved ones. Those of you who know my library background will appreciate this picture taken that afternoon where the bistro’s festivities spilled into the street and across to the public library. Carcassonne has extended a very warm welcome to us!
Buying notes: The rosé that we liked so much was a 2015 L’Alaric from Château Argentiès in Lagrasse. We also bought their 2014 Cuvée L’Alaric rouge. After trying a glass of the smokey sauvignon NV from Domaine La Salynette in Paraza, we had to have a bottle. Next were the 2015 rosé and white Le Démon produced by Pierre Richard in Gruissan, right on the Mediterranean Sea and we finished off with a magnum of Cuvée Pascale 2015 red Corbières from the family Domaine Calvel.