Forty-two producers of the best of the wines of Gigondas. Six top regional chefs, including two with Michelin stars, cooking and presenting their plats. A chocolaterie with plenty of free tastings. Plus a 3-course menu for children. All happening on the place, or square, of one of the most famous wine villages on the globe.
And that, friends, is Gigondas Sur Table, the annual food and wine celebration that took place last night, here in the heart of Côtes-du-Rhône wine country.
When we arrived and presented our tickets we were each given a pouch with a neck strap that contained the evening's food and wine offerings as well as recipes from the chefs. We also got a pen for taking notes and one of those perfectly-shaped Spiegelau wine-tasting glasses, engraved with the seal of the Gigondas appellation.
Every Gigondas producer you've ever wished were available at your local wine store (say at Fort & Foul in Victoria, BC) was there for you to sniff, swirl, and, of course, taste. Most of the producers had on offer multiple vintages and cuvées. Domaine Brusset, offering up Le Secret de Montmorail; Domaine Raspail-Ay with a couple of bottles that simply cannot be bettered; Château de Montmirail from nearby Vacqueryas; Saint Gayan, Tête Noire, Longue Toque from Gabriel Meffre, Notre Dame des Pallières, Les Goubert, Pesquier, the Perrin family... the list goes on. We drank Gigondas from wineries we had never heard of, much less tasted.
For us, the most memorable tasting was from a dust-encrusted Jereboam (that's a really big bottle) of the 2005 Valbelle from Château de Saint-Cosme (whose Côtes-du-Rhône is one of our house wines back home).
The fête ran from 7 PM until 11 PM and by the time the day's light was fading the place was filled beyond capacity with people, almost all of them, from our admittedly small sample of eavesdropping, local wine aficionados. Luckily we arrived early so we were able to find a parking place for our car only about a seven-minute walk down the hill; we were also able to sample some of the food before the lines got long. So long, in fact, that the queue for sampling the food from Chef Julian Alano's restaurant Le Clair de la Plume (in distant Grignan) snaked out from his table, through the place and beyond the entry gates. And it stayed that way the entire time we were at the food fest.
We spotted Chef Jean-Jacques Prévôt, who holds one Michelin star at restaurant Prévôt at Cavaillon, a good hour's drive away, along with his daughter and sommelier, Sandra-Rose Prévôt. Also serving was one-star chef Laurent Azoulay from Le Saule Pleureur in nearby Monteux.
Chef Julian Alano, by the way, was a protégé of notre ami, restaurateur Jean-François Sylvestre, cooking in J-F's former restaurant at the age of nineteen. Now Alano is a top regional chef and his restaurant is on everyone's watchlist for restaurants most likely to be awarded a Michelin star.
à la prochaine,
– Diane & Mark
photographs copyright Mark Craft
Julian Alano's restaurant Le Clair de la Plume would be awarded a star in the 2015 edition of the Michelin Red Guide France, a distinction it would still hold in the 2020 edition.