Wine Quote of the Week

"Days of wine and roses laugh and run away,
Like a child at play"
Johnny Mercer

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Best wine caves in Perpignan

Article as appears in Accents Southwest magazine
Spoilt for Choice

We are lucky to be living in the largest vineyard in the world. The Languedoc Roussillon is the biggest vineyard in the world, producing more wine than Bordeaux, Australia and Chile combined. With over 2800 vignerons and over 30 different appellations, we really are spoilt for choice.

The challenge is to find the diamonds in the rough, as, just like any other wine growing region, there are some very fine wines out there and also, some very mediocre ones.

I have handpicked ( pardon the pun!) my favourite cavistes in the Perpignan area who will help you choose the right wine for the right occasion. Buying wine in a supermarket is fine and handy dandy, but it is nice to support the local economy by purchasing from a local caviste or a local vigneron. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised at the quality and price..

Maison Gulhot

You are always assured a very warm welcome from proprietor Georges Guilhot in his new cave in the historic centre of Perpignan. Previously the manager of the Parisian franchise ‘Nicolas’ in Place Repuplique, he has just returned from four years in Tahiti where he learnt about New World Wines in nearby Australia and New Zealand.

His new cave is stocked with lots of local goodies – 80% of his wines come from the Roussillon region. Georges sources his wines from interesting independent vignerons and chooses with care. He is passionate about wine and food and a visit to his shop is always full of anecdotes and laughter , along with a taste of his favourite tipple of the day. His wines range in price from 3€50 for a bottle of VDP Cote Catalans, ROC du Gouverneur 2007 to his most expensive bottle at 290€ for a Chateau Rothschild and then everything in between.

Once a month , he organises soirées gourmands, sumptuous wine and food matching nights in conjunction with chef, Bruno Léger. Having attended a couple of these delightful evenings, there are worth going on the short list for!

Georges can also organise private evenings in his cave – he can cater for about 20 people or if you want to organise an evening at a different venue, he can cater for this also.

Georges has over 15 years experience in the restaurant trade in England and the US and speaks perfect English.

He also stocks a selection of fine champagnes and whiskies.

Georges offers a 10% discount to all Accents Southwest readers. Mention Accents Southwest for your 10% discount.
Maison Guilhot
13 place de poilus
Perpignan 66000
Tel : 0678445480

Aux Vins 4 Canons

An old armoury situated at 24 bd Clemenceau ( hence the jeu de mots with the name), Fabien Plane and his Mother Francoise head up this beautiful cave on the snazziest Boulevard in Perpignan. Fabien opened the wine shop in 2006 and has developed the cave as a serious platform for biodynamic wines in the region. Specialising in biodynamic, natural and organic wines, mostly from the Roussillon region, he has carved a niche in the market for himself, offering the largest selection of biodynamic wines in the region.

Every Tuesday evening, he invites a vigneron to the cave for a chat and tastings – numbers are always limited .

Thursday evenings, the cave is transformed into a bar where you can purchase a “formule” ; a glass of wine with charcuterie, fruits de mer or even pizza ; they have a different theme each Thursday. Price is usually 8€. Kick off is 19h30 every Thursday evening and the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly as people ease themselves into the weekend.

They also sell a lovely selection of organic charcuterie as well as some interesting artisanal icecream.

Francoise Plane, a renowned sculptress in her own right, fronts the show at the moment. She speaks excellent English.
Vins 4 Canons,
24 bis bd Clemenceau,
66000 Perpignan

V and B
Vins et Bieres

Situated in the centre commercial in Mas Geurido, this cave offers a unique experience in Perpignan with it’s extensive range of beers and wines from around the world. Doubling as a cave and a bar, the cave a vins offers more than 250 wines from all around the world. The cave a bières boasts over 350 beers from Belguim, Germany, Ireland, England and Argentina.
Parking is not a problem in Mas Guerido which is a huge bonus for people popping in after work or at lunch time for a nice cold beer before heading off home. The atmosphere in the bar is family orientated ( Think Cheers!), everyone seems to know each other and with an early closing hour of 21h00 , the ambience is chilled out with no messy clients.
The huge bar is open for private functions and owner, Romuald , is keen to open his doors for private soirées .. he also holds wine and beer tasting nights on a regular basis.

The terrace, currently under construction will add another new dimension to the bar and Romauld is planning on having barbeque nights and parties there – as you are in the middle of a non residential area, you can make as much noise as you like!

With the mercury rising and barbeque season now in full swing, what better accompaniment than an ice cold beer. On offer in V and B at the moment is a caisse of beer , 20 bottle of 50cl German Schonberger Export beer for 15€.

V and B is also open for important sporting events and will expecting a big crowd for the USAP – Clermont Ferrand Rugby final.

Allez USAP!
V and B
22 rue Michel Carre
66330 Cabestany
Tel : 0468863668
Web :

Cave Gustumo

A relaxed cave in the centre of Canet plage, this cave has over 350 wine references and is always on the look out for new and interesting wines. Jean Phillipe Agen, the owner is very knowledgeable about wine and is very enthusiastic about his local wines and terroir. He speaks good English too.

You can also order on line for collection or delivery at very competitive prices.

11 avenue de la Méditerranée

Cheers and Happy Holidays to you all!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wine tasting and food matching

Maison Guilhot

I had the pleasure of being invited to a soirée at Maison Guilhot in Perpignan last week where Olivier Pithon was present and spoke openly about his journey into wine in the PO. Originally from the Val de Loire where his brother produces some fine wines also, he moved to the Pyrenees Orientales over 10 years ago, inspired solely by Gauby whom he considers to be 'la référence' regarding quality wines in the Roussillon region.
You know it's going to be a serious evening when the proprietor and the chef introduce the night saying that they live for wine and food pairing. It is their all consuming passion they proudly declared .. oh and as well as their families they hastily mumbled.
The soirée was held in George's cave, in the centre of Perpignan, where he has a long ancient table which sits about 14 people at the back of the shop. Très convivial!

The wine and food menu was as follows ( in french):

PITHON, deux frères, deux terroirs:
Cuvée Lais blanc
Tartine de saumon fumé, crème épaisse au wazabi.

Chenin Blanc,Pithon-Paillé
Soupe de crevettes au safran.

D 18 blanc
Supions à l'ancre, sauce tomate séchée concassée.

Cuvée Lais Rouge
Brochette Agneau Orientale au Razalhanut.

Bourgueil Pithon-Paillé
Cassolette de moungettes cremeuses, dés de magret de canard , poivre de Madagascar, coulis de poivrons rouges.


Le Pilou rouge
Ganache légère au chocolat, coulis de poivron, framboise et son petit gâteau au chocolat.

Every course had been meticulously researched to match the wine exactly and that it did. One of Pithon's fans was completely awestruck and one stage blurted out ' I have not cried in 15 years, but I think I am going to cry now" while tasting the Cuvée Lais Rouge. Ok, at that stage, my companion and I had to hold back the giggles at his flagrant prostration but it was damn good for all that..

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sister Act

Article as appears in the Herald, Ireland
By Katie Byrne

Tuesday May 04 2010
Sisters Suzanne and Karen O'Reilly (below) hail from Limerick. Suzanne left Ireland at 17 to au pair in France. Karen, a qualified accountant, followed her over in 2002.
"When I visited Suzanne in 2002 she was just setting up her own company and I jumped at the chance to join her. We ran the very successful property business, Bidsinfrance, for more than six years and then we diversified and set up The French Tour Co. Wine tours are our most popular. It's a fun day out and we visit three or four vineyards and dine with vineyard owners.
"We also run other tours for larger groups: adventure tours, art and history tours, even 'Why French Women Don't Get Fat' tours! About 40pc of our clients are Irish. They are by far the easiest clients, quicker to laugh, spend and enjoy themselves.
Being fluent in French helps, although we have come across some extremely difficult bureaucrats. France does not really follow Europe, so European laws can be flagrantly abused when it suits them. I would advise anyone thinking of moving here to set up a business to get fluent in the lingo"
Karen and Suzanne O'Reilly run the French Tour Co, They are currently writing a book, 'Wake up and Smell the Croissants'. Follow them on their blog

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Things to know about restaurants in France

Article as appears in Accents Southwest

I love my food and I love going out to restaurants and am rarely disappointed by what my little adopted corner of France has to offer.
One of Frances many draws for the tourist is her renowned culinary delights, but there are a few things the unsuspecting tourist should know about restaurants in France in general and about restaurants in the PO, in particular:

1) Opening hours.
Unlike Spain, it’s laid back, relaxed and laissez faire neighbour, France is strict on timekeeping. Lunch is served between 12h00 and 14h00 and dinner between 19h00 and 22h00. Pile poil. I have often arrived at empty restaurants with a gang of friends at 13h55 to be greeted with “ah, mais la cuisine est fermée madame”and no amount of cajoling or bribery will make them change their minds. It’s frustrating and refreshingly uncapitalistic in some ways … and you get used to it very quickly! Many restaurants are also closed on Mondays.

2) Vegetarians beware
France is not a country that warms to the vegetarian. In fact , in many restaurants , you will be treated as if you have a contagious disease as the waiter scurries into the kitchen to tell the chef that there is one of “those that do not like meat” on the premises. Be prepared to be presented with a plate of boiled veg and a Gallic shrug of the shoulders!

3) Children should be seen and not heard
As a mother with two small children, I am flabbergasted at the obedience and docility of French children. One can be in a restaurant surrounded by hordes of French children dining with their parents and not be aware that they are even there! From a very early age, table manners and etiquette are literally drummed into French children and they are expected to behave properly and will demurely sit through a 4 course meal without budging. Your dog will be more welcome than unruly “normal “ children.

4) Les toilettes!
Since I moved here over 8 years ago, I’ve seen a huge improvement in the quality of the WC department of restaurants. However, you can still expect dirty holes in the ground, particularly in the city centre of Perpignan. Unisex toilets are popular.

5) Russian roulette
Most menus in French restaurants will be, surprisingly enough, in French and there may not be someone to translate or explain. Bring your dictionary or ordering may be like a game of Russian roulette!

Restaurants that buck the trend in the PO :
1) Best Flexible hours
Le France
A long awaited welcome addition to the Perpignan eating scene, Le France is open all day long serving tapas, pizzas, sandwiches and more. The venue is impressive, built as it is in renovated historical buildings, dating back to the 14th century where it housed the “consulat de mer”
Opening Monday to Saturday 10h00 to 22h00 and Sundays at midday, 12h00 to 14h30
Le France Café, Place de la Loge, 66000 Perpignan, tel : 04 68 51 61 71

Le Napoli
You arrive in Perpignan on a late flight or train and you’re ravenous. Nothing in Perpignan is open, so it looks like heading back to the gaff to rustle up something inane from the cupboard. Think again , because Pizza Napoli is open until 1am every evening. Serving typical pizzeria fare , with good steaks and always a livelu crowd, if the mood takes your fancy, you can always head downstairs to the nightclub! Yeah baby!
Open Monday to Sunday for lunch and from 19h00 to 01h00
Le Napoli, 3, Place de Catalogne, 66000 Perpignan, Telephone: 04 68 35 35 88

2) Best vegetarian restaurant
Peace and Love, Perpignan
As far as I know ( and I stand to be corrected) this is the only dedicated 100% veggie restaurant in the PO. With a laid back feel and 70s décor, the atmosphere is relaxed and student like. The generous and tasty mains start at €6,50 with some interesting lunch specials as well. It’s open for lunch every day except Sunday and for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Peace and Love, 40, rue de la Fusterie 66000 Perpignan, Tél : 06 08 33 67 84

3) Best Kiddies Restaurant
Le Rocher des Pirates
Situated in an ugly industrial zone, this restaurant with pirate theme ticks all the boxes for your children. Waiters dressed as pirates, exploding dinners, volcanic eruptions and a spectacle on Sundays, your child will be engrossed. The menu is attractive for adults as well, with barbequed meat, fish , pizzas and some nice salads.
Le Rocher des Pirates, Rue Georges Melies, 66600 Rivesaltes,Tél : 04 68 57 15 84

Beach Clubs
In the summer months, these clubs situated on the main beaches are ideal for dining with your kids. When your kids get restless, they can play in the sand while you can watch them and the sea view from your vantage point in the dining area. Everybody’s happy.
My pick of the bunch would be Naudo Beach Club, Canet Sud– it’s an upmarket beach club. Their cocktails are excellent and the food is above average. Service can be a bit slow though
Open June to September
Naudo Beach Club, Voie des Flamants Roses, Tel : 0468734744 6oses 4

4) Best Toilets
La Villa du Flot, Perpignan
A superbe restaurant which uses local fresh produce inventively and changes it’s menu weekly, this is a special occasion restaurant situated in a 4star hotel on the outskirts of Perpignan. A open dining room leading on to a leafy terrasse and a sparkling pool, the service is unrushed and the ambience relaxed. The hotel permanently hosts art exhibitions of local artists and the foyer is always decorated with interesting artwork. Their impressive wine vault boasts up to 5000 bottles of wine, with 150 local wines to choose from.
The toilets are very nice too!!!
LA VILLA DUFLOT - Rond-Point Albert Donnezan, Perpignan 66000, Tél 33 (0) 4 68 56 67 67

5) Best restaurant in the world
El Bulli, Roses, Costa Brava, Spain
We are privileged to be living on the very doorstep of the alleged best restaurant in the world. Albeit not in France, but just over the border in Spain, El Bulli is the highly acclaimed eatery standing proudly on the winning podium. It’s not easy to get a seat there, with over a million eager enthusiasts on the waiting list , this restaurant is only open for 6 months of the year – for the other 6 months , they experiment and play with food, trying new techniques and approaches to cooking food that puts this restaurant at the cutting edge of culinary experimentation.
El Bulli, Cala Montjoi . Ap. 30 17480 . Roses, Girona (Spain), tel (34) 972 150 457
Bon Apps tout le monde !

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Georges is back!

You are always assured a warm welcome at Maison Guilhot by proprietor Georges who runs the show. Georges enthusiasm for wine and food marries perfectly with his well stocked shop, full of a wine lovers goodies.
As well as a wide selection of local Roussillon wines, Georges also stocks wine from other parts of France and Spain.
A fine selection of champagnes are also available as well as some well chosen whiskies.
Georges speaks perfect English and is great to consult if you having a dinner party or want to find the right wine to match the right food. He also hosts tasting nights with different themes.
Situated right in the heart of Perpignan city, why not call in for a chat and a taste?

Maison Guilhot,
13 place des poilus
Perpignan 66000
Tel : 0678445480

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our wine quotation winner

"Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and sigh."
William Butler Yeats, Green Helmet and Other Poems.
Roisin McCardle from Limerick, éire,  wins a wine tour for two for sending us this one
Well done Roisin! See you soon in the South of France!

Nice feedback

It was very much a highlight of my trip doing the tours with you and the vignerons, especially the lunch with the French family, whose name I cannot remember at the moment, where we lunched in the 'barn' with Mr. and Mrs., the son and his friend who spoke more English, cooking the pork chops over the grape vines.

As well, we visited Riberach with their grand plans for a hotel etc.. We have received updates via email and they are progressing nicely towards opening this summer. We bought the E11 wine and opened it last year at a dinner with several European guests (France, Denmark) and it everyone was very impressed. Ted's sister and her husband purchased the E31 bottle and found it extremely agreeable. Too bad we are limited to 2 litres!
Maureen Freeman from Canada