During some recent research in the Roussillon, I learned that several of the region’s key natural winemakers had all done viticulture and oenology training together at the Lycéee Agricole de Rivesaltes: Laurence “Yoyo” Manya Krief, Stéphane Morin of Domaine Léonine, Edouard Laffitte of Le Bout du Monde. The Fifth Beatle, as it were, of this influential second-generation* of Roussillon natural winemakers, was Véronique Souloy, who with her ex Anthony Guix founded Domaine Matin Calme in 2006. The couple subsequently parted ways, and since 2015 Souloy maintains, on a quiet square of Perpignan’s old town, Les Trois Journées, an adorable Franco-Korean lunch canteen with an outrageously great wine list.
In late October there was a mild chill in the air, so the Native Companion and I lunched in the kitchen-adjacent upstairs dining room, only lightly converted from the apartment it once evidently was. A CD-player nestles between the wine fridges and the coffee machine, completing the living-room vibe.
Succulent roast squash with curlicues of serrano ham embodies the seasonality and simplicity of the menu. What Souloy ably tranlates as “blinis asiatiques” are pleasantly scarf-able jeon, Korean savoury pancakes. For main courses, a refreshing cold chirashi of pork, cucumber, cabbage, and carrot shared a double-bill with a simple bowl of mild curried mussels. The latter arrived underpinned by a low hill of excellent rice, a thoughtful touch.
Les Trois Journées’ menu offers two choices each for appetizer, main course, and dessert. A three course meal is 18€. Portions are lunch-appropriate; a couple can confidently share one of everything without overindulgence. The wine list, meanwhile, is so gem-studded and well-priced that one feels the pang of missed opportunity when obliged, by social norms and good sense, to consume just one bottle at lunch.
The list reveals a strong affection for Daniel Sage and his sought-after unsulfited wines. It contains a panoply of the wines of Souloy’s erstwhile classmates, alongside hotly-tipped newcomers like Pedres Blanques. After much hemming and hawing I went for something outside the region: a 2015 Côte Roannaise chardonnay from Christophe and Géraldine Pialoux of Domaine du Picatier. By that warm vintage the couple had been working with neither added sulfites nor filtration for four years. After four years’ ageing, any heat the wine initially may have shown has calmed and become deliciously oxidative and confit, with unbowed acidity and splendid notes of candied ginger and sweet onion. Such complexity and weight from such nominally marginal terroir is a revelation, and a validation of the Pialoux’s surprising evolution as winemakers this decade.
The wine also testifies to Souloy’s foresight and good taste in having held it back a few years. I don’t know how much wine she sells on weekday lunches in Perpignan; perhaps it’s easier to age wines, in her position. At any rate, Souloy does a service to the wider natural wine community in sharing it all – her wine list, her perspective, her joyful cuisine – on her shaded backstreet terrace in Perpignan.
Les Trois Journées
26 Rue des Trois Journées
Tel: 04 11 68 83 05
Lunch only, Monday – Friday.
A 2009 interview with Véronique Souloy at Mistelle.
A slow-paced 2015 video interview with Véronique Souloy at Nicolas Caudeville, which the host opens with the slightly off-colour line, “With your Normand physique, what kind of cuisine do you do?”
A 2018 review of Les Trois Journées at Le Fooding.
An very straightforward 2016 post about Les Trois Journées at Les Adventures d’une Montpellieraine.
A similar post from 2017 about Les Trois Journées at Le Blog de Clementine. It’s interesting to note that Les Trois Journées holds equal appeal to wine bloggers and “Random French Girl” bloggers.