What a pleasure it was to plan and share two days of Carcassonne Wine Excursions for 25 Chevaliers du Tastevin from Los Angeles!
The Chevaliers travel to France every year in January to participate in Burgundy’s feast day of St. Vincent (La Saint Vincent Tournante), celebrating the patron saint of wine growers.
In their 22 years of traveling to France, this is the first time they added our region, Languedoc–Roussillon, to their itinerary, and it was so much fun to plan their two-day experience and share in the fun!
Part one of Day One, January 21, 2020 – Lunch and regional food and wine education at Maison du Rire, Coustouge
A highlight of our first day (actually, a highlight of the two days) was our visit to the 100-person village of Coustouge, and Emma Kershaw’s Maison du Rire (House of Laughter) for an amazing lunch and education about the food and wines of Languedoc-Roussillon.
Emma, who holds a diploma from the prestigious Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) from Britain and teaches classes on world wines and gastronomy, treated us to a delectable and educational two-hour five-course food and wine tour of Languedoc-Roussillon.
Emma of course chose our six wines, and prepared all the dishes herself with local, seasonal ingredients. During and after the experience, the Chevaliers raved about the wines, the pairings, and the in-depth education she shared about the foods, wines, and terroirs of our region.
Where and when did sparkling wine originate?
Our first glass of wine: Emma chose Domaine Antech Cuvée Reserve AOP Blanquette de Limoux for our aperitif. People – including these very knowledgeable Chevaliers – are always surprised to learn that Blanquette de Limoux is the first sparkling white wine produced in France, created more than 150 years before Dom Perignon allegedly tasted the stars.
Above: Antech Blanquette de Limoux, and Abbey of Saint-Hilaire where the method of creating sparkling wine was first recorded in 1531. (Dom Pérignon brought this method back to Champagne in 1693 – 162 years later!)
Then on to our first course:
Our second course:
Our third course:
The family who makes the Connemara wine that we enjoyed with the above course has been making wine since the 1200s!
Our fourth course: Sadly, I didn’t take a photo of a favorite dish – Wild slow-roasted boar, poached in wine and roasted overnight. Emma paired it with an Olivier Pithon, Le Pilou, IGP Côtes de Catalanes.
Our fifth course:
Two interesting notes about our fifth course, above. Our region is too dry for cows, so the vast majority of cheeses from here are goat cheeses. The cheese above is, as Emma said, “the only cheese that comes from cows in the region.”
And another interesting note – the wine she served is a fortified wine from the region that predates Port by 500 years!
The Chevaliers absolutely loved it. Here are some of the comments that I heard, and that they shared on our evaluations:
“This is a gourmet experience. This is the real deal.”
“We eat well as a group, and this will go down as one of the great eating experiences of our group.” “To meet someone like her is an uncommon experience in life.” “Unbelievable, “ talking about the pairings. “An eye opening education.” “We’ll be talking about this forever.” “Quite an adventure.” “Wonderful tutorial.” “Emma gets a 10.” “Wonderful tasting and lunch.” “Excellent.” “Fabulous.” “Great presentation.” “Wonderful pairings, outstanding in all ways.” “Wow.”
I’ve shared a little more information about Emma toward the bottom of this post.
Walking Tour of La Cité
Before going to Emma’s, we started the day with a guided walking tour of La Cité, Carcassonne’s medieval walled city, including a visit to the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, and a walk throughout the city and in between the walls.
In my next posts I’ll share the rest of Day One, and also Day 2 of our Carcassonne Wine Excursions.
Here’s our complete itinerary:
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
- Walking tour of La Cité
- Emma Kershaw’s Maison du Rire, Coustouge – 5-course food and wine pairing
- Gerard Bertrand – tasting of 7 wines, and intronisation of two Chevaliers into the Confrérie de Septimanie of Narbonne, La Clape and Quatourze (a respected local wine organization)
- Dinner – Comte Roger, within the walled city
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
- Domaine la Tour Boisée – Wine tasting
- Domaine Gayda – Tour and Lunch
- Château Pennautier – Tour, Acapella Choir, Wine Tasting, Dinner
A little more about Emma Kershaw and her tastings
Emma and her husband Chris moved to Coustouge, in the Corbières region of Languedoc-Roussillon, in 2008 and lovingly converted an old winery, built in the 1700s, into their home and wine school La Maison du Rire. She offers luncheons of wines paired with small courses; a day of cooking lessons and wine, and various weekend breaks. She also offers private tastings for lunch or dinner in your home or lodging for a minimum of 8 people.
Coustouge is about an hour’s drive from Carcassonne along lovely country roads, or about 40 minutes along the motorway. One definitely needs to have a car to go there, but the experience is worth it. https://www.lamaisondurire.com/
- December 26, 2019
- December 3, 2019
- November 4, 2019