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Back from two days of sensorial overload at Vinisud, the trade fair specialising in wines from the south that takes place every two years in Montpellier, and a smorgasbord of great conversations with colorful characters as complex and deep as the wines they were pouring. So, with close to 1700 exhibitors, how do you compete for attention? With lunch, of course! By 11:30 AM, throughout the halls, little plates of food appeared from nowhere and set on the tasting tables, while notebooks and spittoons were set aside.

Some like Gabriel Meffre, one of the largest producers in Côtes du Rhone, offered elegant petit fours and canapés in a booth so sleek it could easy rival any modish wine lounge in New York, while many Languedoc producers took the opportunity to show off some of the best produce the region has to offer.

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The folks over at the Picpoul de Pinet appellation teamed up and hired an oyster producer from the Etang de Thau who served the briny shellfish shucked to order.

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Home-made foie gras terrines, either au naturel or with figs, were sampled with all manner of vendange tardives.

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To showcase their wines, the producers of the Côtes de Thongues, near Beziers, worked with Michel Aninat, one of the best charcutiers of the region. The rustic offerings included salt cured ham from the Montagne Noire, thyme-scented chunky blood sausage, classic peppery saucisson and eggplant tartines.

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Some producers from the La Clape wine district near Narbonne set out miniature tapas bars offering Serrano ham, fresh goat cheese and roasted pepper on olive oil soaked baguettes and Manchego cheese.

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Nutty goat cheese and semi-aged Cantal were sampled with both red and white varietals. And, hidden amidst the mess of bottles and glasses, a flaky apple tourte and a thick rich almond cream served in test tubes provided a sweet finale.

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