Les Caves Byrrh Wine Fair, 7 Sept 2013
Les Vignerons des Aspres Wine Fair held at Les Caves Byrrh in Thuir, was the first of its kind to promote wine producers in the Aspres region of Roussillon. It was organised through the local tourist office in collaboration with Jonathon Hesford of Domaine Treloar and Andre Gil of Domaine de la Perdrix. They were very pleased with the turn out and I was certainly impressed as I wasn’t sure what to expect and underestimated the size of it. Twenty-two local producers set out their wines on tables lining one aisle of the huge Cave, either side immense oak barrels lead down to the piece de resistance, the largest oak barrel in the world, which holds 1 000 200 litres.
Georgia and I were tasked with manning Domaine Treloar’s table alongside Jonathon, providing tastings and explaining the wines to customers. I’m proud to say that this was all done in French too!
Rachel Treloar and Georgia prepare our table and Jonathon describes Treloar wines.
The cellar is a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard and produces a broad range of aperitifs of which Dubonnet and Cinzano are amongst the products made The Cave itself is very impressive, set on 7 hectares and with some 600 barrels is immense. We entered the site through what was once the railway station, designed by the architect Gustav Eiffel, it is extremely ornate giving you the feeling that you have stepped back in time!
picture sourced from http://www.justacote.com
The event was initiated with a procession through the main aisle where giant figures lead the local drummers band and human pyramid to stop in front of the great oak barrel and entertain the crowds.
A funky jazz band then played for the rest of the evening whilst the crowds enjoyed the wines on offer.
I managed to try a few wines from other producers, three of which really impressed me. Domaine Sol-Payre offered three reds with variations of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, all well made and striking wines. Chateau Planeres‘s Blanc Brut de Brut made from 100% Tourbat, also known as Malvoisie du Roussillon, was quite delicious and approachable. Domaine Trilles Incantation Blanc made an interesting white blend of Vermentino, Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu plus the Incantation Rouge from Syrah, Carignan, Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre was fruity with good structure, one for early drinking.
On the other hand, Clos Saint Georges, run by an older French couple, were quite rude and seemed not all that interested in explaining their wines giving the impression that they spoke for themselves, which to me they did as I wasn’t very impressed. I think the owner walking off in the middle of my asking him a question was the rudest experience I’ve had for a while.
Jonathan certainly received plenty of compliments on his wines with several people returning to tell us that his selection was one of the best at the event.
Things started winding down about 10pm when we were able to pack up, although there were a couple of keen tasters reluctant to leave.
It was a buzzing evening and brought my French wine lingo swiftly up to speed, thankfully people were friendly and complimentary of my explanations.
Over 700 people attended the event and 670 tastings were purchased that only cost the customer a mere 5 euros to taste each producer’s wine. For the first fair of its kind in the Aspres region, I was really impressed by the organisation and amount of people there. I would certainly call it a success!