When you start to explore that part of southern France that is within sight of the might Pyrenees mountains there are many treasures to happen upon.
Remember that this is Catalan country on both sides of the border. Many people here, both French and Spanish, identify as Catalan first.
It s an area of rugged beauty whether you look towards the Mediterranean or towards the mountains.
It was here that Nathalie Lefort found a small house surrounded by olive groves and vineyards outside the town of Cosprons which lies about half way between the beautiful coastal towns of Collioure and Banyuls-sur-Mer.
La Guinelle: A recent visit
We were lucky enough to be able to visit Nathalie at her home and production centre on a balmy Spring day. With clear sunshine and no rain it was perfect for exploring her operation. It was also perfect for sitting afterwards at an outdoor table in Banyuls-sur-Mer for a very pleasant lunch.
The drive to La Guinelle was uneventful despite some very narrow roads that we traversed through vineyards outside Cosprons. We eventually found the following sign welcoming us to La Guinelle.
We parked the car and walked towards the Vinaigrerie to be greeted with the sight of dozens of barrels under shade and vineyards in the background.
Each barrel has a relatively large, covered opening which allows the beneficial, natural bacteria to enter the barrel and carry out their fermentation magic.
Once the fermentation is complete and the vinegar has gained the benefit of the time in barrel, the vinegar is transferred to glass demijohns and placed in the sunshine as shown below.
The purpose of the time in demijohns is to clarify and stabilise the vinegar and is a technique used by Catalans for wine as well. Our friends at Jolly Ferriol, who have a deep understanding of historic Catalan traditions, always matured their very old solera sweet wines in glass demijohns which were stored outside in the sun.
As you leave this magic place you can swing by the small sales area to buy some vinegar or other paraphernalia.
We will be receiving our next shipment of this precious vinegar all made from wine produced by friends of Nathalie mid-year 2021. As the tie draws closer we will post on this page information about the specific vinegars we will have available.