This is part of the continued coverage of Toques et Clochers, the Sieur d’Arques auction in Limoux that raises funds to rennovate local churches each year. Thanks to Sud de France Export for inviting me to the event and even getting me a seat at the super exclusive gala dinner. Video at the bottom of the page!
The even lasts a few days. On Saturday, the town whose churchtower is being redone becomes an open air festival. This year, sleepy mountain town Couiza welcomed some 50,000+ visitors through the winding village roads to enjoy several thousand liters of Chardonnay. It’s really surreal to see these little villages roped off (traffic is rerouted to go around the village and you can only access it by buses from other neighboring towns) and flooded by sooo many festive spirits.
It’s the kind of event that defies logic. And the fact that it’s organized in a different village each year means they have to redo all the logistics from scratch. Nothing is the same year to year. A very impressive event on a scale that independent producers like me could never accomplish even if united.
But the moment that defines the event is the auction on Sunday where bidders will raise their paddles and buy up limited runs of wine in barrel. There’s a big tasting so that everybody can pick their favorite barrels of wine for the vintage. Then there’s a long auction where 80 lots are sold and people bid on wine. Some are there just to support the event and the rennovation. Others are shrewdly trying to grab the best deals because there are some real pearls that you can uncover in the tasting. So the most devoted tasters who spend all morning researching will have an opportunity to buy barrels that the casual visitors didn’t discover. The average barrel price was 4,500 Euro or so this year. The highest bid was about 6,400 Euro, as I recall.
And then we celebrate with a massive dinner. As the French are wont to do.
This video is a presentation of the dishes, the wine pairings, and a musical accompaniment for each course. Nice. In English and French since this is a very International crowd. Only a few hundred people get to attend the gala and it’s a pleasure to bring you behind closed doors to see all the yummy treats and wines and dancing clowns(?!) that bring this event to a close so delightfully.
The commissaire priseur closed the bidding and announced that the barrel had been won by… Twitter? Did I hear that right? So I approached the Dutchman who claims to have been bidding on behalf of Twitter and by golly, I did hear right.
Gilles Faëlens explains how Bacchantes represented Twitter-ers at the auction:
Basically, they tweeted about Toques et Clochers, the famous wine auction that helps rennovate church towers in the sleepy south of France. The tweet said they’d be down in Limoux bidding on barrels and asked if anybody was interested in buying part of a barrel. The overwhelming response from Holland alone allowed them to buy an entire barrel, pre-sold. Nice!
This is a great story because Twitter-users are combining forces and using hyperspeed communication technology to participate in an event that is normally very exclusive. And they’re saving a part of our rural French landscape in the process. Way to go to tweeters.
@cunovanthoff is the actual Twitter account that roiled up all this support. But it’s hard to tell since he’s tweeting in Dutch.
I’ll follow up with more about Toques et Clochers 2010 VERY SOON.
Jean Héritier, directeur de la Chambre d’Agriculture de l’Aude, revient sur le programme pour parler de deux vins qui sont symboliques de l’innovation et la revigorification du département de l’Aude et du Languedoc en général. Et nous finissons l’épisode avec une devinette! Ecrivez moi un mail ou mettez vos reponses dans les commentaires du blog.
Nous dégustons un Gewürztraminer, cépage expérimental pour la région et normalement planté seulement en Alsace ou en Allemagne. C’est une merveille. Un vin explosif dont je suis heureux d”avoir la chance de déguster en période d’expérimentation, avant sa commercialisation.
Et nous dégustons aussi le Toques et Clochers Haute Vallée 2007, un 100% Chardonnay de Sieur d’Arques, un vin qui fait partie de la fameuse célébration annuelle de “Toques et Clochers”.
N’oubliez pas de laisser un commentaire pour deviner quel cépage nous dégustons à la fin de l’épisode sur le vin mystère de mon Domaine O’Vineyards.
Jean Heritier, Director of the Chamber of Agriculture, dropped by with a couple white wines that represent the spirit of revitalization of the region.
We taste Toques et Clochers, a wine that Sieur d’Arques organizes a big old auction around each and every year. The proceeds of the auction goes to rennovate an old churchtower somewhere in the area. Nice spirit of revitalization in the Languedoc and all based around wine and celebration.
We also taste an experimental growth of Gewürztraminer being grown at the experimental domaine managed by the Chamber of Agriculture. It’s not quite the same as when Alsace grows them, but full of potential. Unfortunately, it’s been open a whole day and it tastes suboptimal. We tasted it freshly for a French episode that will be uploaded soon. And we talk about the differences after being open a whole day.
This is ironically a really sleeepy video from my dad and me. We could use some revitalizing ourselves. Working hard to bring this blog to you. Tasting wines and taking names!