Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ferme L'Avellan in Lacoste

Danielle Ravoire, Ferme L'AvellanIn the Luberon we bike from Apt to Lacoste and stay at Ferme L'Avellan, a small B&B and biodynamic farm run by the welcoming, gracious, and slightly eccentric Danielle Ravoire. What do I mean by welcoming and gracious? It turns out that the madame has baked us a lovely cherry dessert, a sort of baked custard tart, for no particular reason other than that we are guests. What do I mean by eccentric? She never mentions its for us (someone else does) and she leaves the cherry pits in the fruit, so we have to navigate the dessert rather carefully. (Perhaps this is sensible rather than eccentric; the cherries have maintained their structure; maybe the pits help.)

Inside, there's a DVD resting atop the television that attacks the scourge of GMOs and promotes biodiversity. But Mme. Ravoire lives the biodiversity rather than just watches it. She keeps a number of animals, including a peacock named "Peacock," farms all manner of fruits and vegetables and herbs, makes her own cheese, and makes red wine from her tiny, 0.5 hectare vineyard. Everything is delicious, not least of all her wine, which with a healthy proportion of carignan in the blend shows an appealing licorice note.

L'Avellan de Lacoste 2006With only 12% alcohol her 2006 is very fresh and lively, but it's fully ripe. There are herbs here but not a hint of vegetal greenness. The madame sighs discontentedly as she complains about the 13%+ alcohol found in Côtes du Rhônes. At first I am surprised by the low alcohol level, as 2006 was a warm and dry year, but as the sun sinks it gets surprisingly chilly for an otherwise warm June day; the northerly mistral seems to get kicked back off the north-facing hill and rushed downward. If this happens throughout the year, I can see how the acidity is maintained. Whatever the case, the wine is a terrific match with her strong, creamy, highly aged chèvre, the remains of which are seen at right.

The stars reveal themselves slowly and but for the baying of distant dogs it is utterly quiet.


Fillay said...

Your cherry tart sounds like a clafouti. And leaving the pits in is traditional - otherwise the fruit bleeds and prevents the custard from setting properly (and, besides, every good Frenchman knows that cherries have pits). Thanks for the post, you're making me hungry...

Wicker Parker said...

A clafouti! I'd never heard of this, but looking up photos and descriptions of other clafoutis, it sure looks like it. Thanks for the tip!