Exciting young chef Juan Arbeláez adds a dash of Mediterranean flair to the offering at Vigna, where dining on the terrace at this château’s wine-farm restaurant is a wonderful way to while away a sunny afternoon.
Autumn is the perfect season for Provence and an especially good time to discover the back country of the Var, which produces some superb Côtes de Provence wines. Some of the best are made at the Château La Martinette in Lorgues, a 45-hectare wine estate surrounded by 350 hectares of forest, olive groves and lavender fields which is currently converting its vineyards to organic production. The château grows all of the traditional cépages of Provence, including Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut, Rolle, Clairette, Mourvèdre, Cabernet-Sauvignon and the very rare indigenous Tibouren grape as well.
This past summer the château opened Vigna, a wine-farm restaurant, where the appealingly Mediterranean menu was created by inventive young Paris chef Juan Arbeláez. It showcases the vegetables and fruit grown at the château, and the wine list happily offers the opportunity to sample many of its excellent labels by the glass.
Stopping by for lunch after a visit to the magnificent Abbaye du Thoronet, just a few picturesque miles away, we settled ourselves on the terrace on a warm sunny day and enjoyed an excellent lunch.
Starters of red prawn carpaccio with poutargue and a citrus-fruit vinaigrette; tuna tartare with smoked aubergine, citrus, ginger and sesame; and burrata with tomato marmalade, basil and spiced olive oil were fresh, inventive and full of flavour.
Main courses were excellent, too, including Sicilian-style swordfish with raisins and capers; lamb chops with baby potatoes and carrots; and the vegetable-stuffed ravioli with Taleggio cream sauce were outstanding as well.
Finish up your meal with the white chocolate and almond panna cotta with peach coulis or with the profiteroles with pistachio cream and cherries. Both are absolutely heavenly.
4005 Chemin de la Martinette, Lorgues 83510
Tel: +33 04 13 35 40 80.
Lunch menus €28, €35; average à la carte €50
From France Today magazine