Un assortiment – la fête des vins, Born Digital Awards, crappy Lozère aire

Boulevard Napoléon: Fêtes des Vins, La Lavinière, Minervois 


2011 Grenache Gris, VDP de l’Herault, Boulevard Napoléon 


The Boulevard Napoléon plaque on the winery’s
street that lends the wine its name  

We have just spent a very enjoyable weekend in the Minervois guests of Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver for their fifth annual Fête des Vins at their winery in La Lavinière. Gulliver and Henderson run St John, the well known London restaurant group, which includes their flagship restaurant – St John in Clerkenwell. They are famous for their robust cooking with an accent on offal and pigs’ extremities.

Gulliver has had a house by the Canal du Midi in Homps for 16 years and he and Fergus started their wine venture in 2011 buying grapes from the local co-operative. Last year they bought some parcels of vines way up in the Minervois hills that can only be reached by rough tracks.

The white Boulevard Napoléon is made from Grenache Gris, while the three reds are single varietal – Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache. These juicy attractive wines are very much ones to enjoy rather than analyse.


Benji – the winemaker


Trevor Gulliver

Fergus Henderson



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A75: Aire de Lozère – worth a detour to avoid

Driving back from the Minervois today we made the grievous mistake of stopping for a quick casse croute at the Aire de Lozère. Although the scenery is lovely the food offer is sadly dreary – a tiny selection of unambitious sandwiches, a sad attempt at a croque monsieur plus a few other bits and pieces that will only appeal in desperation. There is a also a shop called Lozère Authentique – a claim that is somewhat undermined by stocking Mars Bars….

There was a time when UK service station were rightly derided. Fortunately in recent times they have improved with outlets offering food from Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. However, the very best service station I know is in the Lake District in Cumbrian where there is a farm shop offering local meat, cheese and vegetables in addition to a interesting and tasty range of snacks.  



11 réflexions sur “Un assortiment – la fête des vins, Born Digital Awards, crappy Lozère aire

  1. I can understand you . But I think the problem is more widespread in France – most of the « regional products shops » that opened on French highways have slowly turned to supérettes in which the local products are now virtually absent. Maybe the demand is simply not there. We always wish that our fellow citizens were more curious, open minded, or simply gourmand. But sadly, this is not the case, and most customers demand Mars bars, cheap sandwiches and tasteless industrial beer, not aligot, salers cheese or family made Châtus.
    Anyway, continuons le combat!


  2. Maybe the Brits are more curious. Also, in France, most highways are private « concessions », which means, firstly, that the shops are only accessible to the motorists who pay the toll (no exit to open roads) and secondly, that the rent is quite expensive. At the beginning, I suppose that the regions or départements paid part of the rent for the shops because it was like a shopwindow for their production but I suspect that now, most regions must have left them to their own resources.


    1. Jim Budd

      Fair points Hervé except that the A75 is a free motorway with the exception of the Millau Bridge. Also rents on UK motorways will not be cheap either.


  3. I would suggest that it is a cpmlete waste of time trying to find decent food and drink on motorways (I know that you have found and exception Jim).. The best solution is to turn off and go into small towns or villages, providing of course that you time it right ! Remember that we are in France and eating outside of 12h/14h or 19h30/21h30 away from big towns is strangely impossible and this is not the fault of M. Martinez.


    1. Jim Budd

      Thanks David. It is far from my intention to set off French bashing but in this instance the offer at UK service stations has improved considerably – they needed to! Sadly as you say French service stations are too often dispiriting affairs. Unfortunately aiming to drive from the Minervois to the Cher Valley in a day doesn’t leave much time for a lunch and a siesta before continuing.


  4. Je recommande Chez Camillou à Aumont-Aubrac…. L’avantage sur l’A75 est que tu peux sortir sans passer par un péage, t’arrêter en plein village et revenir sur l’autoroute un peu plus loin.


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