Vigne en Foule – Introduction
Our most recent visit to France saw us driving a long way to visit some of our suppliers of natural wines that we import to Australia. This trip we drove down through the centre of France and then to the area around the pleasant, historic town of Gaillac to visit Patrice Lescarret from the Causse Marines vineyard.
Patrice makes some very interesting wines using methods that have been used in the area for many centuries. In fact, Gaillac is the centre of an area that for a long time supplied many parts of Europe with wine until the emerging Bordeaux winemakers put large tax burdens on the Gaillac wine that had to be shipped through Bordeaux to reach the ocean.
The wine is interesting because there are grapes here that are not found anywhere else in France such as the Len de l’Oeil, Ondenc and Mauzac white grapes and Braucol, Alicante, Prunelart and Duras as red grapes.
Patrice has become well known for his playful wine labels of which we have included two below:
After tasting his delicious natural wines he invited us to join him for lunch in Gaillac at a restaurant called Vigne en Foule that we had enjoyed very much on previous visits (Patrice has apart share of the business). Vigne en foule is named after a very old method of close planting grape vines that has long since been abandoned in France.
The restaurant is in the very centre of town, so it is easy to find and the parking is relatively easy to find here. When you walk into the restaurant from the pleasant central square you will notice jars of preserved grapes above the kitchen – these are examples of ancient varieties from the area (such as the ones we mention above) that the owners are trying to restore to their former glory.
The wine list however explores more widely than Gaillac with old favourites such as the wines of Dominique Derain, Chateau Cambon, Thierry Puzelat, Domaine de Belliviere, Gilles and Catherine Verge, Domaine Gramenon and Jean Foillard gracing the list.
On one of our previous visits we had thoroughly enjoyed a bottle of the Hegoxuri produced by Domaine Arretxea from Irouleguy. This crisp, intensely mineral white wine from the French Basque country on the Spanish border is made from Petit Manseng, Gros Manseg and Petit Corbu and is a perfect food wine.
The food here is particularly good with the chef being a rising star in France. The following are some of the dishes that we have enjoyed.
We clearly remember a crunchy “croquettes de pieds et de tete de cochon” served on a vibrant green herb sauce. The walnut sized croquettes were crisp on the outside and meltingly soft and unctuous inside.
Another memorable dish was “langue de boeuf tiede sauce moutarde”, The warmed tongue was coated with a finely made mustard sauce which was strewn with herb flowers and a grinding of pepper. This was an excellent dish!
A seafood dish that caught our attention was “blanc de sieche a l’americaine, mousseline de pois chiche aux herbes”. This dish saw perfectly tender pieces of cuttlefish served in a rich shellfish sauce in the style of Sauce Americaine over a creamy mash of chickpeas. This dish had well-developed flavours offset by comfort from the perfect mash.
A memorable dessert was a dish of “Ils flotante praline rouge” which was presented in a deep white bowl where the whiteness was relieved by the red praline that was strewn over the top.
Most of the wines here are from natural producers so you can easily select a wine that will not contain spray residues as so many do these days.
You can find more information on the restaurant’s Web site here.
We have also included this restaurant in our story about Eating in France outside Paris.
Street: 80 place de la Liberation
Town/Suburb: Gaillac, 81600
Phone number: +33 5 63 41 79 08
Opening hours: Lunch and dinner Mon – Sat