It’s been 10 years since 2011 when I purchased La Bergerie.
I am not sure if it was the previous Dutch couple who gave the house its name or the original French family that lived there.
The house was part of a bastide several hundred years ago. Nothing of that remains except the oldest room next to the kitchen. This is from the 14th Century.
The large, uneven stones of the three walls attest to its provenance. At first, I though the far side of the tiny room was a fire-place. Only to be told the room was where farm animals were kept and the “chimney” where the inhabitants dropped food into the “fireplace” for them.
The old 14th Century room
Two Bronze Age tombs discovered near Lorgues point to it being a settlement around 2,000 to 3,000 BC. Later, crossing over from north Italy, the Romans ruled Provence (and what we know today as France) from 121 BC for some 500 years.
My taxi-driver and many of the car repair garages in Lorgues, their owners have Italian names. There is usually a reason and connection for everything. Roman chariots, you see, were the first sports cars of the world.
Having identified Lorgues as the village where I wanted to buy a house, I spent six days there with my family to look at what was available back in 2011. And finally settled on La Bergerie.
I later discovered that driving some 30 minutes to the east was Chateau d’Esclans in La Motte, and 30 minutes west was Chateau Miraval.
I have visited both on several occasions and while I have met Sacha Lichine and the late Patrick Leon – proprietor and winemaker of Chateau d’Esclans respectively – had not shaken hands with Brad Pitt at Miraval. The last time I visited the Correns property, I bumped into their head of security, an ex-British SAS soldier, and was shown around by Winemaker Marc Perrin, whose family are owners of Chateau de Beaucastel.
The part of the Var where I live is also referred to as Provence.
The wines certainly prefer to be referred to as Provencal since there is more cache to that, particularly if it is rosé. Provence rosés cost more than others in France. Incidentally, to make a French still rosé, the colour has to come from bleeding the skin or saignee in the winemaking. You are forbidden to get the colour by blending still white with still red wine, as you can do in producing Champagne rosé.
Although I enjoy wine on a daily basis whether in Singapore or Lorgues, I seldom visit wineries when in Lorgues. Wine represents work for me, and it’s to get away from work when I head to my house in the south of France.
Before Covid struck, it was always the Air France night flight –around 2200 or 2300 hrs (depending on the time of year) – which gets me into Roissy CdG about 0600 or 0700 hrs.
The flight lands in Terminal 2E. I then make my way to 2F for the 0955 hrs Paris-Nice flight.
I fly Economy (occasionally Biz Class) but as I go to France six to eight times a year, I am a Platinum Member and, after disembarking, will proceed to the lounge to wait, work, and relax.
The AF flight arrives in Nice Cote d’Azur Airport about 1130 hrs.
Monsieur Pisaneschi picks me up for the 1-hour drive to Lorgues where he also lives. The final part of the drive, a straight 400-metre of the Route des arcs, is best.
The taxi flies pass Chez Bruno on the left with the gleaming view of the towering Collegiate Church of Saint-Martin ahead. I am not religious but the view lifts my heart. I am but a minute from Chemin du Pendedi.
I key-in the code for the gate and the short driveway decants me in front of the house. I enter the white door and am immediately greeted by the familiar smell of the stone and tiles.
I drop the bags, head to the kitchen, open the fridge, and extricate a bottle of champagne. I pour myself a generous glass and go out to sit in the garden by the pool. I had left Singapore the night before and it is now – the next new day – in the south of France.
Perhaps the best reason for being in Lorgues is Chez Bruno. In the car, the 1 Michelin star restaurant is just five minutes away from the house.
Patriarch Clement Bruno has retired and it is his sons who are now in charge. Elder brother Samuel is manager while Benjamin is chef in the kitchen. Head Sommelier is Bastien Collet.
Chef Benjamin Bruno. Each year, Chez Bruno goes through 5,000 kilos of truffles
Restaurant Manager Samuel Bruno keeps the restaurant a family concern
Chef Sommelier Bastien Collet has an intimate knowledge of the wines of the Var
There are four menus in which every dish is accompanied by truffle. The menus are priced €83, €125, €175, and €195. The truffles used are Tuber Uncinatum, Tuber Melanosporum and Tuber Burmale.
There are truffle dishes created here which you will find no where else in the world.
Chez Bruno is for me the greatest restaurant devoted to truffles in the world. When you taste their creations, you quickly realise why other restaurants do not seem to have a clue what to do with the delicacy.
Connoisseurs and customers from around the world agree. Each year Chez Bruno goes through 5,000 kilos of truffles!!
Scrambled Eggs with Tuber Brumale Truffle
A Whole Truffle Cooked in a Puff Pastry, with Bacon, Foie Gras and Bordelaise Sauce with Tuber Brumale Truffle
The most famous creation of Chez Bruno is Slow-Cooked Potato with Tuber Brumale Truffle and Grated Tuber Melanosporum Truffle
The main course for the Tasting Menu is Tournedos Rossini with Black Truffle but as I did not want to have red meat, Benjamin kindly substituted that with Lobster with Black Truffle
Located in Frejus between Cannes and Saint-Tropez, Clos des Roses is a delicious 100% Rolle, aka Vermentino, revealing pears and a delicate floral note wrapped in a roundness of freshness
Domaine de Rimauresq is a Cru Classe Cotes de Provence. Another pure Rolle, part of the juice was fermented in barrels and larger 600-litre demi-muids. The wine shows stone fruits, a vanilla note, and a creamy, glycerol texture
I skipped dessert and rounded up dinner with a brie