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.