Andrew Guard

Villeneuve sur vère

Laurent Cazottes is the proprietor of an interesting and unique enterprise centred around a distillery, one of only four permitted in the Tarn. The resultant spirits (eau-de-vie) and liqueurs are produced from organically grown fruit supplied by locals either for their own consumption, or, bottled by the family Cazottes for retail sale and distribution. The result is a variety of brilliant eau-de-vie such as apple, pear, plum and also a few rare and wonderful liqueurs.

Along with his wife Marina, he lives in the middle of an orchard, with lavender and tomato vines nearby so that every day he can monitor the ripening of his fruits, all of which are handpicked. Whether it's grapes, greengage plums, quinces or pears, each fruit is pampered by hand which is a painstaking and precise effort. Cazottes retains only the “noble” parts of the fruit - the skin and flesh; stalks, calyxes, pips, stones or scabs are taken out manually to keep the pure savour and aroma of the fruit or flower intact. Furthermore, in the distillery, all the fruit and flowers he uses are processed manually by a handful of workers - each plum hand de-stoned, each pear hand de-stemmed...and apparently they have even tried picking pips from strawberries (using pincers)!

Cazottes has begun to apply biological methods of production and even biodynamic agriculture at his estate and, to that end, has recently planted 400 pear trees, 80 green gage plum trees and also vines of forgotten local grapes Mauzac, Prunelard and of Folle Noire.

The Goutte de Poire Williams Passerillée, is his personal calling card and that which opened the doors of the greatest restaurants to him, from the exalted Pierre Gagnaire. Ducasse, Arpège and Troisgros to contemporary Parisian favorites Le Baratin and Le Verre Volé. Today, Michel Bras orders his citron liqueur exclusively from him and the national forests office has assigned to him personally the wild blueberries from Mont Lozère..

Today, Laurent Cazottes is France's leading producer of artisan liqueurs and eau-de-vie. They really are remarkable.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 16, 2012