What’s in a name? I run a few long weekend wine tours in Languedoc each year and a few years ago I was searching for a title for one of them. The tour in question is a 4 night, 3 day tour that explores 3 different parts of the region taking people to taste the wines and foods of the region. It also explores some of the historical events such as the Cathar Crusade and we visit some beautiful villages, markets and some historical buildings, lunching each day on local cuisine. It has taken me many years to seek out all these gems and it’s been a journey of a lifetime helped by some of the friendliest people I have ever come across. The pace of life is slow and people have the time to stand and chat or watch the world go by. One wine maker I visit always greets me with ‘welcome to paradise’ and I nearly called the tour that but I chose instead ‘The Spirit of Languedoc’.
A steaming bowl of Cassoulet is brought to our table by Bridget who made it in her bijou restaurant that was once the school in this tiny Languedoc village. We are sitting in the old school room that still has the blackboard but instead of the lesson it displays todays menu. But we take no heed of that for as usual I have ordered Bridget’s delicious Cassoulet for my clients who have signed up for the Saint-Chinian & Minerve vineyard tour. The comforting white bean stew cooked in a garlicky sauce comes in a terracotta Cassoulet and hidden inside is the preserved duck, duck confit as it’s called here. Dotted around are succulent sausages and sprinkled on top are the breadcrumbs baked to a delicious crunch. Its rich and hearty peasant food and its like has fed the people of the Languedoc for centuries and today my customers are tucking in with gusto.