DOMAINE MONPLEZY AT THE AUBERGE DU PRESBYTERE
Anne and Christian from Domaine Monplezy
Those of us, who live not too far from the village of Vailhan in the hills outside Pézenas in the heart of the Languedoc, are lucky in that we have one of the best restaurants of the region on our doorstep. The auberge in Vailhan has had a chequered history; and it is now on its third proprietor in almost as many years. However, with the last change of ownership, there has been a quantum leap in quality and what the French call accueil. Three friends arrived from Paris in early 2008. Yannick Savioz Fouillet was cooking for the Georges V in Paris and Guillaume Becker ran the directors’ dining room for a large pharmaceutical company, Servier. Sylvia Cascone comes from Tuscany; she is a qualified sommelier and has worked for various smart Paris restaurants. The menu changes every fortnight, using original and creative combinations of fresh, local ingredients and the wine list is small and selected from local wine growers, all of whom are keen to support this young business, which like any restaurant, especially in these days of credit crunch, has its slack evenings. So a series of wine evenings was arranged by local growers.
We went to the evening hosted by Anne Sutra de Germa and Christian Gil from Domaine Monplézy, just outside Pézenas, so that they make Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue as well as Coteaux du Languedoc Pézenas, which is the new cru of the appellation. Anne welcomed us over our apéro of 2008 Plaisirs Rosé, (4.80€) a blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsaut and Syrah, with ripe, raspberry fruit. It was rounded and vinous and slipped down a treat, with an amuse-bouche, in the form of an anchovy quenelle.
The starter was a delicious concoction of green asparagus, with a seafood fricassée, which complimented Plaisirs Interdits Blanc, 2008. (6.40€) This Côtes de Thongue is an original blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Muscat and Vermentino. Viognier dominates the nose with some peachy hints and the flavours is intriguing, with white flowers and fresh acidity.
Saddle of veal, with baked aubergine and parmesan, was the main course to accompany Plaisirs Rouge 2007, and then Felicité 2005. Plaisirs Rouge, Coteaux du Languedoc, Pézenas, 2007 is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Cinsaut and Syrah (6.40€). For me it represents the epitome of the Languedoc with lovely spicy fruit, while Felicité, Côtes de Thongue (12.00€) mainly from Grenache and Carignan, has been aged in barrel, some new, for twelve months, and is more serious and structured. It will develop with time, but on the night Plaisirs had the edge.
The pre-dessert was an elegant mouthful of pear clafoutis, followed by a delicious gaspacho of strawberries, accompanied by a biscuit that was delicately flavoured with wild fennel, an intriguing and successful combination. This was the moment for the dessert wine, a Vendange Tardive of Grenache Noir, Délice (20€). Unlike Rivesaltes or Maury, it is not fortified. The alcohol level reaches a natural 16º, and the yield is just 8 hl/ha. The palate is redolent of red fruit and chocolate and it made a delicious finale to the evening.
L’Auberge du Presbytère – Tel : 04 67 24 76 49
Domaine de Monplézy : www.domainemonplezy.fr