The mythical ‘Black Diamond’

Did you know, tuber Melanosporum, known as the black truffle or winter truffle, identified by its purplish black flesh and white veins, is one of the most expensive truffles, costing, on average €1000 per kilo.

In the Aude department ‘Los Trufaïres de Vilanòva de Minerbés’ association brings together more than 650 producers who farm 750 hectares of truffle plantations. The annual harvest is up to 150 tonnes. This production is improving year on year thanks to its privileged climate, terroir and precise growing methods.

In the Greater Carcassonne region, there are four exceptional areas: from the Cabardès to the Corbières and from Malepère to Minervois. The villages of Cabrespine, Moussoulens, Trausse and Villeneuve Minervois are truffle ambassadors.

The Aude department is able to grow three main varieties of truffle, which can be enjoyed fresh all year round.

  • The Tuber Melanosporum, known as the black truffle or winter truffle. It is identified by its purplish black flesh, with white veins. It is the most expensive truffle after the Piedmont white truffle, costing, on average €1000 per kilo. `it is on sale from December to February each year. 
  • The Tuber Aestivum, known as the summer truffle, has large scales and a marbled beige flesh, with white veins. It is very different from the black truffle. They smell and taste completely different and are not used in the same recipes.
  • The lesser known Tuber Uncinatum, or autumn truffle, completes the rich offering at the Markets.

The ‘Association des Trufficulteurs Audois’, was established to promote these wonderful Truffles through various events such as truffle markets, truffle festivals and the annual “Truffe & Patrimoine” gala dinner held every February.

These typical markets take place on a Saturday morning, once a month, from December to February in the three Aude communes, including Moussoulens and Villeneuve-Minervois in Greater Carcassonne.

Visit Villeneuve-Minervois Market to buy your own Truffle

Villeneuve-Minervois, only half an hour from La Souqueto and Maison d’été Gite has become an essential place for truffle growing and its promotion through its monthly Market and Truffle Museum ‘Maison de la Truffle d’Occitanie’.

And, so one December weekend we headed off to find the mythical black diamond. By 10am the Villeneuve-Minervois food market was in full flow. The Market aisles were packed full of the hidden treasures produced by the traders and artisans of Minervois: wine, olive oil, honey, gingerbread and of course Truffles.

There was a stunning array of produce, from butter to Brie, and a truffle-speckled goat cheese. Olives and charcuterie were available for tasting and a chef was running a culinary workshop. Truffle recipes are prepared before our eyes: Verrines, truffle pâté… 

A rope separates the public from the truffle farmers and the precious fruits of their labours. First inspection by a judge appointed by the Chamber of Agriculture of Aude and the Truffle Farmers’ Association: the truffles are weighed, inspected one by one, and sealed in a hessian sack. Once the judging process is over, a gunshot rings out, the rope falls, and it’s a race to buy the truffle treasure, the Black Truffle!!

Once the buying frenzy was over we had a meal at La table du Pareur, We highly recommend it.

In the afternoon we visited the the Occitanie Truffle Centre. Opened to the public in June 2011, this 300 m² structure benefits from the very latest technologies in museum presentation. It’s a 300 m² facility with several thematic rooms decorated with slideshows and interactive audiovisual supports. We discovered the history of the precious mushroom, its environment, cultivation, harvest, its marketing, history through the centuries, its valorization, it’s gastronomy and more.

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