Mirabeau HQ after dark looks rather different… The subtle mood lighting creates a cosy, intimate space, really accentuating the sand-coloured walls and vaulted ceilings of this very old building. During the summer we had spent hours in this space during the weekly ‘night markets’, mostly behind the counter serving individuals from around the world exploring Cotignac. I never really noticed just how romantic the setting can be – focussed as always on the job at hand.
But this time, we were not here for work but for a wine-tasting evening. And not just any wine-tasting event, but something rather special for the village. It was only after many of the guests had arrived that I realised that I was slightly underdressed for the occasion. Assuming a collared shirt would suffice instead of my ubiquitous T-shirt I found myself shaking hands with the mayor, his wife and a number of rather influential people from the area. It was a small group of thirty people, and the evening was held in aid of fundraising for the school. Many events are held in the village every year by the local parent’s association (Jeany Cronk has been an active member for several years), but this was just a little more chic than the usual ‘pasta party’.
Our host for the evening was Didiér, a wine expert of note. He owns the ‘La Cave’ wine cellar on the first corner into town and if you have been impressed by a sommelier at a fine restaurant, this guy will blow you away. He has friends and connections with some of the most prestigious wine houses in France and his knowledge seems to be endless – as is his patience in answering the fumbling questions of a novice. He chose his wines according to a pre-arranged ‘apéro’ menu which started with crudités, sushi and spring rolls, a delicious peruvian savoury cake and ending with tangy lemon meringue tartlets, meringues and chocolate fondant with chilli ganache.
But the stars of the show were the wines. I’ve never had a Margot, let alone a ’99 and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that a sweet wine is really the best accompaniment to a sweet dessert. Before we knew it the clock struck midnight and the smiles around the room bore testament to a successful evening. All in all an informative but informal experience resulting in an incremental step forward for the palate and tastebuds. The venue set the mood and the guests were rather charming and the children of Cotignac benefitted from a tidy sum towards their activities in the next school year. La Falaise will undoubtedly become a special place for these kind of events and it’s a great and easy way to introduce a diverse audience to the joys of good French wine.