Languedoc Property Blog: News and Information from the region

The truffle season is upon us…

The black gold of the Minervois.. the humble Truffle

It is through my daily work that I was introduced to this quiet corner of the Minervois. The small but perfectly formed village of Villeneuve-Minervois not only is a pretty village sitting at the foot of the Montaigne Noire, but it also a village famed for its reverence of the Truffle. Forget immediate visions of delicious chocolate confectionary.. we are talking the dark, bulbous, earthy-smelling delicacy searched by restraunteurs the world over.

Now I am no expert in such foods enjoyed by the rich and famous, so I decided to do a little research with the  help of the Mairie de Villeneuve Minervois..

“Very little is known of the history of the truffle until the middle ages, before this time, truffles were seen by the Church as a food of the devil and those caught growing or cultivating truffles risked being burnt at the stake alongside those suspected of being witches”.

“In the 19th Century there was high production of cultivated truffles around the vineyards, fuelled by rich vignerons in the area. However, the phylloxara plague which wiped out many vineyards also saw the death of the truffle spores as vines were dug up and destroyed”.
Demand in the early to mid 20th Century was also subdued, due to two World Wars when only basic foods were grown on the land, and it was only as late as 1974 when a federation was formed to encourage the planning of trees with the truffle spores enriched in the root stock.
The Aude department now produces in excess of 1500Kgm of mainly black truffles and this is set to increase as more spores are introduces and reach maturity. Prices for the best examples of truffle regularly reach in excess of €1000 per kilo and the season in Villeneuve-Minervois runs from December through to February. If you have never seen a truffle auction or market, it really is worth a day out, and Villeneuve-Minervois does it in style.

The Brotherhood
The Brotherhood – or “la Confrérie Los Trufaïres de Vilanova de Menerbès” to give the Occitan name they have adopted, give real drama to the truffle. They are easy to spot in their black hats and robes, and add ceremony to the production and marketing of the truffle. Beginning with the 1st Truffle Market on the 29th December 2012 and culminating in the last of the Markets on the 9th February 2013 – and a dinner featuring… you guessed it – the humble truffle.

Thanks to the Mairie de Villeneuve-Minervois for the information.. please visit their excellent website for more information about the truffle, the truffle markets and of course, the Truffle Museum.