Off to the races…
Not quite…I’m off to the Hippodrome Race track for the spring, “Wine and Gourmet show,” Le Salon des Vignerons, to be exact. Comparatively, the Hippodrome is bigger than the Roman Coliseum. For me, this is spectacular. We have taken the local bus, train and car; whatever it takes to get to Cagnes sur Mer; we try not to miss this bi-annual wine event.
Two large exhibit buildings with 250 exhibitors from many regions of France with wines…,
…foie gras, seafood, regional specialties like: confits, chocolate, artisanal cheese, sausage, preserves, olives and other treasures. In America, for a similar experience, you would have to be a buyer at a trade show.
Here, I am the buyer for my kitchen. With exceptional prices…you can’t miss out on this event in May and November.
For years I went in the morning with a neighbor and we were the first in line. Now, I go in the afternoon; less crowded, and more civilized while tasting and sipping after lunch. Plus, our cart is not in the way, and the aisle is clear of a crushing crowd.
Getting a parking space isn’t too bad, other times in the past, it’s been a long trek to the admission gate. As I pull open the trunk door to get my shopping cart out—I am filled with anticipation.
Although when walking by the horse stalls, I get a whiff of horses and forget I’m going to a gourmet show.
The admission is 8.00 euros with a free glass. Frequent and good steady customers receive invitations and the entrance fee is free. We have been coming here for over 10 years, and we have plenty of invites.
Not everyone is a sale’s clerk, some actually are the producers and owners, and this is evident with their pride and enthusiasm. I can sometimes notice their disappointment when I pass by without sampling their product. They know that I if I have a taste, I will want to buy it, so I hold off. Yet, I do have my regulars!
I can’t even keep up with the appellations.
Here is a sample: Côte de Provence, Beaujolais, Languedoc, Volnay, Pomerol, Médoc, Grasse, and the Rhone Valley. Champagne, Armagnac and Cognac.
Here are my favorites:
- Château Vincens Cahors – Black plum & chocolate with a fruity finish (www.chateauvincens.fr)
- Quatra Pilas (Chant de Grillion) – spicy, notes of apricot, mango, anise (Languedoc)
- Château Saint-Christophe – black cherries, tobacco earthiness (Medoc)
- Champagne Legrand Frères – semi dry, light Chardonnay (Champagne)
- Château Bois de Laborde – Delicate, red berries, vanilla oak Bordeaux (Lalande de Pomerol) (www.lalande-pomerol.com/chateau/chateau-bois-de-labord)
Each stall is compact with cases stacked high. Most sellers are in the same spot, and my first stop is for Château Vincens. This is very reasonable and consistent in taste, time after time.
The event is festive, and their greeting is pleasant as I offer my glass. They suggest an offering and pour a taste into my glass. The bottles are situated by year, and grape. You can buy 1/2 bottles, or a case that consist of 6. They will hold it for you until you are ready to leave, or they will bring it to your car free.
I’m in rhythm now, I made my first purchase. Now, I’m off to look at the food, preserves, olives, and pâtes.
This is where you come to plan your next cocktail party.
One time my friend bought several specialties for her daughter’s wedding reception and they made a beautiful spread for the event.
Rarely are my favorites sold out. One, I frequently anticipate, is a truffle foie gras/truffle macaroon displayed in a refrigerated cabinet. They are very delicate and saved for a special occasion.
I take tiny bites to make them last longer!
In addition to the two Halls, several food tents are outside with light fare, but after nibbling and sipping I am not hungry; I’m here for just a couple of hours to buy great wine. Thankfully, I brought some water with me to clean my palate between tastings.
At the end of my visit, I stack my goodies in the car, and fold the receipts in my purse. You pay each vendor separately, consequently, there is no huge supermarket bill for heart failure. Since I don’t add it all up; just a glance at an individual receipt, and then admire the prize and price of each purchase!
We will be here next November 2018…Come join us for the best day in Cagnes sur Mer!