2 Dec 2012

Noilly Prat

A visit to Noilly Prat in Marseillan on the weekend with friends Miki and Ivan. Marseillan is on the Etang de Thau and is on the route of a day trip that I often take visitors on. But it’s a big day out and I’ve never factored in enough time for a tour of Noilly Prat. So it was a first for me.

A gorgeous sunny (but bitterly cold) day, so the mid-morning tasting was pretty good! Actually, we arrived to be told that our booked tour was cancelled because the woman who runs it had called in sick. But the lovely guy in the shop shut the main door, put up a “back in 5 minutes” sign, and went ahead and gave us a generous 15 minute private tour.

I’d never tasted Noilly Prat before, but found it delicious. And came away with two bottles (the original dry and the red) and a set of small glasses for the bargain price of €11 for 6.

The red is not available for general sale, only in the Marseillan shop – the remainder is exported to the US. I picked up a few recipe cards – food and cocktails, so a few different things on the menu this christmas I think.

The barrels where the Noilly Prat is kept for the initial 18 months are made from Canadian oak and are massive.

Then it’s stored in smaller barrels out in the yard for a further year. The barrels are incredibly weather worn and rustic looking – and in summer sprinklers are played over them four times a day to keep them from totally drying out.

Despite this, up to 8% is lost to evaporation – our charming unofficial guide said this is what they call “the angels’ share”. The unique flavour is from more than 20 (some secret) ingredients – herbs, spices, flowers – being added during the process.

Good work Monsieur Noilly and Monsieur Prat – yummm.

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