wine region of Roussillon.
I went back to the hotel for a brief time to change and get ready for what would be a delightful dinner with Christine Campadieu of Domaine La Tour Vielle. She made the perfect choice in Le Grain de Folie restaurant in Perpignan. It was intimate for conversation and the food was some of the best I had thus far on my trip.
I started the day with my favorite French breakfast of yogurt, fruit and pan au chocolat. I never eat the same thing for breakfast at home, but this seems to work well to start a day of wine tasting. Virginie Hurault from Vins du Roussillon picked me up at the Hotel Metropole in Perpignan for our trip to the mountains and the sea, further into the south of France.
Our first stop was at a small store in Banyuls sur Mer, where we met with Jean-Francois Deu, owner of Domaine du Traginer. The shop also sold other local wines and we tasted a few.
Domaine de la Rectorie, where Marc Parce, president of the areas Cru Management Organization told us about the first white wines made here back in the 1990s and how they actually grew different grapes within the same vineyard instead of blending them later on!
My pick at Domaine de la Rectorie was definitely the 2011 L’Oriental, a mix of black grenache and carignan, but I didn’t get to have much as we had another drive to take before lunch.
Le Neptune Restaurant offered us incredible views into this seaside paradise – along with fantastic food and wine.
After lunch, we walked around the town and along the sea. It was a windy and cool day, but I still wanted to check the area out and take some photos. Before we left Collioure, we stopped to see the factory of one of their most popular exports, anchovies. It was interesting to watch the workers fold them up to put into the cans. I almost wished I ate fish. I certainly could smell them!
Olivier Bajard, who is a award-winning master of sweets. My sweet tooth was definitely salivating as I looked at the cakes, cookies and, of course, chocolate.
The chocolate selection at Olivier Bajard appeared to be endless, from chocolate bars made from cocoa around the world to truffles in multiple flavors.
We walked through the kitchen, which was as busy and organized as that of a major restaurant. In a large room at the end, Olivier and his assistant Remy were waiting for us to do a wine pairing with some of their chocolates and French macaroons. I didn’t necessarily agree with all the pairings, but I did really enjoy all the offerings. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say I was most blown away by the macaroon with cassis and violet.
Christine told me about the wines she makes in Collioure, up on a sloping vineyard. She and her ex-husband (and current business partner) produce about 10 different wines that range from dry to sweet. I liked the ones I tried, especially the 2011 Collioure Puig Ambeille, a combination of grenache and mourvèdre. It was perfect with the mini ravioli in a cream sauce with asparagus and mushrooms, served after a delicious salad of artichokes, celery and garlic.