Grand Cru de Batz specializes in natural, air-drained rock salt that comes in a variety of distinctive flavours
From fine wines to sumptuous sauces and perfect pastries, France has a well-deserved reputation as the home of gastronomic excellence. And when it comes to creating the best possible flavours, one ingredient encompasses the French passion for perfection exquisitely – Grand Cru de Batz salt.
Harvested by hand from the marshes of Brittany’s west coast using centuries-old techniques, these unique salts have long been favoured by connoisseurs – from the Versailles court of King Louis XIV, to today’s Michelin- starred chefs such as Joel Robuchon and Heston Blumenthal, as well as prestigious kitchens such as those of Hermes and Monaco’s royal family.
The secret behind Grand Cru de Batz’s success is its combination of expertise and ideal weather conditions, as company owner Cédric Pennarun explains. “We harvest the salt from the marsh as the water evaporates in the summer heat and warm winds, using specialist local tools and techniques handed down through the generations,” he says. “Only a handful of staff have the necessary skills and knowledge – without them, we wouldn’t be able to create our products.”
The flaky, fine layer of salt, known as “fleur de sel”, can only be harvested from the middle or end of June through to the end of August, during which time there may be only 30 days when weather conditions are right. Rarer still is the “fleur de sel vent d’est” – fine white grains created by the warm easterly winds that blow across the salt marshes of Guérande. The range also includes “fleur de sel fumée”, which is smoked over beechwood, and the coarser, grey-tinged “gros sel gris”, harvested from the marsh bed and coloured by the minerals it contains.
“All of our salts are air-drained in the wind,” says Cédric, “rather than the more common, quicker, heated methods, which remove a lot of the nutrients and minerals.” The result is a range of salts whose distinctive properties make them ideally suited to different uses. While the coarser salt gives incredible depth to seafood dishes, soups, or cooking pasta, the more delicate fleur de sels flavours are best used as a finishing touch to any completed dish, including salads, meats and vegetables.
Grand Cru de Batz even assigns a vintage to each batch of salt. But then what else would you expect from a seasoning dubbed “the salt of kings, the king of salts”?