A trip to La Vienne is a great opportunity to enjoy our wines and local produce. And your visit wouldn’t be complete without giving in to the temptation to try some of our local gastronomic specialities!
Iconic Produce of the Poitou Region
This legendary cheese is the region’s uncontested star product. The famous Poitou goat’s cheese is shaped into an easily recognisable truncated-cone shape. Its origins date back to the 8th century when, following the Battle of Poitiers, a handful of Saracen families settled in the region to keep goats.
As a result, goat-rearing took off on the better quality pastures, and with it the production of a cheese called chablis (‘goat’ in Arabic), which later came to be known as ‘chabichou’. This delicious whole-milk cheese is a white colour with a mild, creamy taste, creating a delicately creamy sensation on the palate. Chabichou is best enjoyed with a Haut Poitou Sauvignon AOC white wine drunk as an apéritif.
Broyé du Poitou
Broyé du Poitou, which has a texture both hard and crumbly, is a delicious butter-biscuit flat cake that is divided up by punching it in the middle, a tradition that explains its name ‘broyé’, meaning ‘crushed’. This allows everyone to choose a piece to suit, depending on how hungry or greedy they are! In the past it was served at weddings, receptions and communion days.
This traditional Poitou dish is made with vegetables (sorrel, cabbage, endive, chard, leeks, parsley, onions, etc.) and sometimes bacon. The recipe for farci varies from place to place. This parcel of vegetables and herbs, wrapped up in cabbage leaves, is delicious. It is made with vegetables in season, and the secret to a successful farci is in its slow cooking. It is so difficult to make that tradition has it that one has to make three to ensure one is a success.
The word ‘macaroon’ comes from the Italian ‘maccarone’, because it was originally a pasta brought over from Italy in the 16th century by Catherine de Medici, wife of Henry II, king of France. Over time, it has evolved to become the sweet treat we know and love today.
The first records of macaroons in Montmorillon date back to the 17th century, but it was not until the 19th century that the Montmorillon-based confectioner Rannou-Metivier decided to produce hand-made macaroons based on the original recipe.
Containing almonds, egg whites and sugar, these macaroons are usually sold in dozens, arranged on the greaseproof paper on which they were baked. There is even a macaroon museum in Montmorillon, and one of the fascinating facts you will learn there is that in the 19th century, most of the fruit trees in La Vienne were almond trees.
Tourteau Fromager (cheese cake)
Tourteau fromager is one of the flagship products of Poitou gastronomy. But looking at this rather uninspiring round black ball with its burnt crust, you’d be forgiven for wondering why… This ‘cheese cake’ is eaten for dessert, with an apéritif or as a snack. The proof of the pudding is in the eating! Try this light, melt-in-the-mouth cake with a vaguely sweet taste and you’ll find it creates a lovely fresh sensation in the mouth. A real delight!
Haut Poitou melon
Grown in the clay-limestone soils here and hand-picked, the round Haut Poitou melon has a firm and juicy orange flesh. Eaten with an apéritif, for dessert or as a snack, it has a wonderfully sweet, fragrant flavour.
Bûche du Poitou
Also famous in Poitou, this pasteurised cheese takes its name from its shape (‘bûche’ is French for ‘log’). Made with goat’s milk, this cheese has an impressively soft texture and natural rind. It is matured for one month in a dry cellar and has a slightly acidic, nutty taste. Try bûche du Poitou with a Haut Poitou AOC white wine.
Haut Poitou AOC wine
Whether of the white, red or rosé variety, Haut Poitou wine creates a feeling of freshness and lightness in the mouth.
Haut Poitou white wine is a pale yellow colour, with aromas of citrus, grapefruit, exotic fruits and blackcurrant bud. This wine is perfect drunk as an apéritif or with seafood such as shrimps and oysters.
Haut Poitou red wine has a flavour reminiscent of red fruits such as raspberry, morello cherry and blackberry. Although produced mainly for consumption while young, this wine can be laid down for a few years, developing prune and licorice on the palate. It is the perfect wine to drink with traditional Poitou dishes such as snail sauce, leg of lamb with mogette beans and mature goat’s cheese.
Haut Poitou rosé wine is a blend with aromas of ripe fruit, strawberry, raspberry and peppery spiciness with a touch of freshness that creates a certain elegance. This wine is perfect for modern and exotic cuisine and goes well with mixed salads and grilled meats. For drinking with traditional Poitou dishes, this rosé is a must with black pudding, andouillettes (chitterling sausages) and farci poitevin. It can also be served with a snack of broyé du Poitou or torteau fromager.
Saumur AOC wine
Nine villages in northern Vienne are part of the Saumur wine appellation.
Saumur blanc is a fruity blend with a sweet flavour derived from the famous taste of the tufa, the chalky subsoil typically found in the Saumur area. The vines’ roots grow through the tufa, and the bottles age in cave-cellars dug into this same rock. This wine develops aromas of apricot, honey and acacia. When young, in the mouth it reveals exotic fruits (lychee, white blossom and citrus), and as it ages it first takes on a hint of lime blossom, evolving later more towards notes of iodine. Saumur blanc goes well with fish and seafood dishes, white meats and even some cheeses such as Chabichou du Poitou and Sainte-Maure de Touraine.
Saumur rouge is a dry red wine also flavoured by the tufa it grows in. Saumur rouge expresses subtle flavours of red fruits (raspberry and blackcurrant) and sometimes spicy notes. When young, this fresh and fruity wine can be served with lamb or rabbit-based dishes, or with cheeses such as reblochon.
Saumur brut, white or rosé, is best drunk young. It is characterised by a shimmering golden or salmon colour and by its fine bubbles. In the mouth, this wine surprises with its freshness and notes of white fruit, apricot and hazelnut, or red fruits in the case of the rosés and vanilla in the whites. Saumur brut can be served as an apéritif or at the end of a meal, and also goes well with fish (seafood and shellfish) and in sauces for white meats.
Tasting the Bellefois beers is like travelling back in time… Each variety takes you back through the history of Poitou by adopting the name of one of the famous battles that took place here, in 507, 732 and 1356. The names chosen by Pascal Pouilly for his beers are as much a history lesson as a refreshing drink!
Suggested menu of local produce
Looking for new ideas to vary your cooking and impress your guests? Try a taste of local Poitou cuisine!
Through the changing seasons and around the markets of La Vienne, you’ll find Haut Poitou melon, grilled eels, walnut oil, lamb with green garlic and chabichou goat’s cheese, all washed down with a Haut Poitou white wine. And not forgetting the succulent ‘pâté de Pâques’, a meat pie containing hard-boiled eggs traditionally eaten at Easter time.
For the apéritif, go for toast slices spread generously with snail terrine, what we call ‘tartine d’escargots’ or ’escargots à l’apéro’. After the bread has toasted, heat it in the microwave for one minute – original and delicious!
For your starter, choose a dish of fresh asparagus if it’s summer or an asparagus velouté in winter. White asparagus from the Loudun region grows entirely underground in the dark, giving it its delicate gourmet flavour. Accompany it with a bottle of Haut Poitou Sauvignon AOC.
Continue your meal with a salade poitevine made with lettuce and slices of bison terrine and ostrich terrine. To bring out the flavours, make a dressing with fig vinegar and walnut oil. A Saumur AOC red wine will go well with this.
For the main course, how about duck confit accompanied by stir-fried green vegetables and sauté potatoes, brightened up with a pinch of hand-picked saffron? Add a little farci poitevin (a must!), which can be eaten hot or cold. You’ll love this vitamin-packed parcel of vegetables and herbs with a subtle taste! Wash it down with a Haut Poitou Cabernet tradition AOC.
Round off your typical Vienne meal with a gourmet Poitou coffee, served with a little piece of broyé du Poitou, a Montmorillon macaroon, a few ‘poirions’ (an ancient variety of pear still grown in La Vienne) and a ‘crotte de bique’, a little truffle chocolate made by Chocolaterie Mélusine in Châtellerault.