La Guinelle Vinegar – A Beautiful Place to Visit

La Guinelle – Natural Vinegar and Stunning Landscape

Whenever we are visiting our natural wine producers in France, we always take the opportunity to search out places that are serving natural wine and other natural products whether it be biodynamic vegetables, organically raised proteins (ranging from veal to chicken to lentils to the dizzying variety of beans that are cultivated throughout the country), natural mustard and recently, our discovery of La Guinelle where they produce natural vinegar in idyllic surroundings within sight of the Pyrenees mountains.

So impressed were we with the quality of their products that we asked if we could distribute them in Australia as there is such a close relationship with our wine producers since the vinegar is often based on natural wine.

In fact we had learned about La Guinelle because one of our producers had a barrel of wine which had started to turn to vinegar and they had given it to La Guinelle to weave their magic on it. They did and they created a beautiful, natural vinegar that became highly sought after!

It was here that Nathalie Lefort found a small house surrounded by olive groves and vineyards outside the town of Cosprons which lies about half way between the beautiful coastal towns of Collioure and Banyuls-sur-Mer.

The first time we visited was when Nathalie owned the enterprise and we went there on a balmy spring day. With clear sunshine and no rain it was perfect for exploring her operation. It was also perfect for sitting afterwards at an outdoor table at Le 9 Caves in Banyuls-sur-Mer for a very pleasant lunch.

The drive to La Guinelle was uneventful despite some very narrow roads that we traversed through vineyards outside Cosprons. We eventually found the following sign welcoming us to La Guinelle.

La Guinelle
Approaching La Guinelle

We parked the car and walked towards the Vinaigrerie to be greeted with the sight of dozens of barrels under shade and vineyards in the background.

La Guinelle
Barrels of Vinegar with vineyards behind

Each barrel has a relatively large, covered opening which allows the beneficial, natural bacteria to enter the barrel and carry out their fermentation magic.

The cloth covering over the barrels allowing the air to enter

Once the fermentation is complete and the vinegar has gained the benefit of the time in barrel, the vinegar is transferred to glass demijohns and placed in the sunshine as shown below.

Glass demijohns of vinegar in the sunshine

The purpose of the time in demijohns is to clarify and stabilise the vinegar and is a technique used by Catalans for wine as well. Our friends at Jolly Ferriol, who have a deep understanding of historic Catalan traditions, always matured their very old solera sweet wines in glass demijohns which were stored outside in the sun.

As you leave this magic place you can swing by the small sales area to buy some vinegar or other paraphernalia.

After 23 years Nathalie Lefort has retired. We are very lucky that in February this year she sold La
Guinelle to Chandra Brune, a young woman who had worked with her for many years. We
tasted Chandra’s first vinegars in September and they were wonderful so we’re confident that
La Guinelle has a long and exciting future. The current shipment that we are selling is vinegar that Chandra has created!

The vinegar that we are currently selling is described in detail on our Living Wines Web site here.

You can read more about their vinegar on the La Guinelle Web site here.

If you are staying in nearby Perpignan, a city that we have come to really like, then make sure you drop in to Café Léo which you can read about here.