Toques & Clochers, literally meaning “chefs’ hats & bell towers”, is a charity auction with some of the profits going to the renovation of the 42 clochers (bell towers) in the villages lying within the Limoux appellation area, thereby helping to preserve the local historical and architectural heritage.
Each year, a village is chosen to host this popular auction with a festival attracting nearly 30,000 people, and to celebrate the renovation of its church.
It is also a major event within the wine world. One of the most important wine auctions in France, Toques & Clochers is a great opportunity for wine growers, members of the wine and restaurant trades, and customers from around the world, to come together for a lively, festive weekend. Sieur d'Arques has been organising Toques & Clochers since 1990.
Having survived our oenologists’ tough selection process, and having risen to our viticultural specialists’ rigorous demands, 42 wine producers have the honour of representing their village’s "clocher” and having buyers taste the barrels of wine going up for auction at this festive weekend, to which French and international personalities from the world of gastronomy and wine are invited.
A hundred or so barrels are sold at this auction, which is conducted by Maître Rémy FOURNIER, an auctioneer based in Toulouse and Aymeric DE CLOUET, wine expert to the Paris Court of Appeal, and presided over by a 3-star Michelin chef, who, later that evening, would be preparing a gala dinner for over 400 guests.
Since the inception of the AOC Limoux, the great chefs have given us indispensable advice on food-wine pairings and the top sommeliers have also shared their knowledge and insight with us. Their combined recommendations have naturally led our oenologists to make further quality enhancements to our wines. This collaboration in the pursuit of aromas and flavours has resulted in great wines with the finesse they display today.
Each year, a 3-star Michelin chef presides over the auction held on Palm Sunday.
Pierre Troisgros was its first President in 1990, since when there has been a succession of top chefs with Patrick BERTRON being the most recent, in 2017:
A number of top sommeliers have also honoured us with their presence.
From Jean FRAMBOURT in 1990 to Lyonel LECONTE in 2017:
The 2017 event’s patrons were Patrick BERTRON, chef at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu, Dominique LOISEAU, CEO of Bernard Loiseau SA, and sommelier, Lyonel LECONTE, Best Sommelier in France 2014.
They have all given their name to a row of vines identified by the iconic marker stones of the Carré des Toques and the Carré des Sommeliers at Domaine de Flandry, in Limoux.
Each year, some of the auction’s profits go to the restoration of a “clocher” (bell tower) within the appellation area, restoring the original character to these villages in the Haute-Vallée de l'Aude, and thus preserving their rich architectural heritage.
These “clochers” symbolize this unique selection, with 3,800 plots studied in 4 specific terroirs spanning an area boasting 42 “clochers”.
Since 2013, four Avant Première crémants de prestige lots have been presented at the auction alongside the traditional barrels of Chardonnay.
Each lot is comprised of 120 bottles of Crémant de Limoux along with a Mathusalem designed by a well-known artist. The four original works are also used on the bottle’s packaging, with 120 bottles dressed in a label inspired by each work of art.
Selwyn Senatori, Van Binh, Léo de Faucher, Didier Goessens and Lise Dufaur Mourens have, in turn, brought their talents to bear, adding colour to the event.
Come and participate in this great festive weekend organized by the Vignerons du Sieur d’Arques, where you will meet great people, taste the finest cuvées up for auction, and enjoy a gala evening of haute cuisine.
This event, open to the general public, attracts members of the wine trade and those who just want to enjoy the tastings and musical entertainment taking place in the wine cellars of a typical village within the appellation. Visitors will also explore our local heritage full of Romanesque and Gothic architectural gems. This event’s tour de force is that it brings together those who grow the grapes, those who make the wine, those who sell the wine, and those who drink it, in a convivial and festive atmosphere.
In short, this is an event that everyone enjoys and looks forward to. Like a dance to the tune of the four terroirs, a communion takes place and the night becomes magical. At this event, the wine producers are happy to don their boaters and act as bartenders and ambassadors for a unique product.
After the tasting on the Sunday morning, at which each wine producer has presented the fruit of his or her work in the beautiful setting of the Château de Flandry, members of the international wine trade are invited to take part in the auction, which is held every year on the afternoon of Palm Sunday. The auctioned barrels are recognized as being unique crus and attain price levels that reflect their high quality.
Each year, some of the auction’s profits go to the restoration of a bell tower within the appellation area, restoring the original character to these villages in the Haute-Vallée de l'Aude, and thereby preserving their rich architectural heritage. These “clochers” symbolize this unique selection, with 3,800 plots studied in 4 specific terroirs spanning an area boasting round 40 “clochers” (bell towers). In Limoux we therefore talk about “clochers” in the same way as they refer to “châteaux” or “clos” in other wine regions.
Our wines have been purchased by the international wine trade including top French and international restaurants, important négociants and importers, wine clubs, wine collectors, and sommelier associations.
A prestigious gala evening is held for Sieur d'Arques' guests of honour on the Sunday evening of the Toques & Clochers weekend.
Top chefs pair their inventive cuisine with the Vignerons du Sieur d’Arques’ vintage wines. This marriage of culinary innovation and wine tradition is celebrated in an ambience of music and dance.
The event goes on late into the night with the traditional carnival of the "Fécos" dressed up as Pierrots and carrying their "Carabènes".
As part of Toques & Clochers, Sieur d'Arques also organises the Première Bulle & Chevalets art event, which aims to showcase the work of artists via a competition and exhibitions in the village.
The competition is open to all 2D graphic art expressions and is based on the theme of "a story always starts with wine ..."
This competition is open to everyone and the deadline for registration is 16 March, 2018.
The award ceremony will take place on 23 March, 2018.