Category Archives: Gigondas

A Delightful Lunch in Provence

Once in a while, if you are lucky, you try a restaurant for the first time and it turns out to be an unforgettable dining experience. This was the case with restaurant Les Florets (which is also a hotel) just outside of Gigondas in the Provence region of France.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a nice breeze and some diners were sitting on the charming outdoor terrace when we arrived. We decided to sit inside (it was a little to breezy) in the comfortable and well-appointed dining room. The service was attentive but not intrusive. The food and wine may have been the best I had in my 3 weeks in the area. They have an exceptional wine list with older vintages and very good prices.

After lunch, the breeze died down somewhat and we had coffee and cognac on the terrace.IMG_8439

Chateauneuf du Pape Chateau De Vaudieu Blanc 2012 made from 75% Grenache and 25% Roussanne. The winery is located in the heart of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation. The name comes from Val de Dieu (Valley of God). The vineyard is 10 hectares in the southern part of the estate and the soil is red clay, gray silex limestone and pebbles. Manual harvest in boxes of 15 kg with double sorting of the grapes in the vineyard takes place. Grapes are vinified and aged separately until blending.There is soft pressing with whole bunches. Static cold settling and alcohol fermentation is between 18 and 22 degrees. The wine is aged for 6 months. Most of the wine is aged in stainless steel and a small portion in barriques.

The wine has hints of white fruit, grapefruit, refreshing citrus notes with nice minerality and good acidity.IMG_8435

A small amuse bouche of salmon mousse with avocado was a nice starter.IMG_8436

My first course was sautéed foie gras with a red grape sauce that I really enjoyed.IMG_8441

Vacqueyras Domaine La Garrigue 2001   Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault The domaine is in the heart of the Vacqueyras appellation area (southern Cotes du Rhone, in the Vaucluse department, located on a plateau called Les Garrigues.) The vines are planted in 3 different types of soil: stony limestone-clay 40%, slopes and terraces 40%, and sandy 20%. The Syrah and Mourvedre vines are 40 to 50 years old and some of the Grenache vines are between 80 and 100 years old. Harvest is by hand and it takes 30 pickers about one month to harvest all the grapes. Before being vatted the grape bunches are lightly crushed without being de-stalked. During fermentation the run off juice is pumped over the cap twice a day. The grapes are pressed using two vertical hydraulic presses, and for the last two years also a pneumatic press. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months. The wine is not fined or filtered. It has hints of black fruit, spice and a touch of liquorice with a long finish and pleasant aftertaste.IMG_8440

This wine is at its peak and was a great combination with my main course of roast veal covered with black summer truffles in a rich truffle sauce.IMG_8462

I really enjoyed this wine and on another day, we went to visit the winery. The Brechet family owns the restaurant and the winery.IMG_8442

Dessert was a warm apricot tart with vanilla ice cream. Michele declared it perfection and promises to try to duplicate it for me soon. I can’t wait!

3 Comments

Filed under Chateaneuf du Pape, Chateau de Vaudieu, Domaine La Garrigue, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Gigondas, Vacqueyras

Two Traditional Restaurants in Provence

These are two of my favorite restaurants in Provence,one is perfect for lunch the other for dinner.

Restaurant Auberge de la Clue– Deep in the country east of Vaison la Romaine, this family owned restaurant serves traditional Provencal cooking at a very reasonable price.

Gizzard Salade

Gizzard Salade

I could not resist ordering the gizzard salad with smoked duck breast and walnuts.  I was not disappointed.  The salad was excellent. For he second course I had duck confit one of my favorites and it was perfect. Then there was the dessert – prune ice cream with Armagnac – it was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.IMG_3624

We drank a Château d’Aqueria Tavel 2012.  It is made from seven different grapes, the principal one being Grenache 52%.  The vines are 35 years old.  The grapes are completely destemmed before being put into the maceration vats for 24 to 48 hours. The grape varieties are then blended two by two. After fully “bleeding” the vats (drawing off the juice), fermentation takes place at regulated temperatures (18 to 20°C). The different grape varieties are then all blended together and age for several months before being bottled at the estate. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and more than a hint of strawberries and raspberries. About $20 in the US.

IMG_3680

Restaurant Mas des Vignes –IMG_3699

This restaurant is on the road that goes up to Mt Ventoux. There are exquisite views across the Rhone Valley to the Cevennes Mountains. The sunsets are spectacular but do not get there too early as the sun can be blinding.

Pork Cheeks

Pork Cheeks

I began with foie gras, which was perfect followed by very tender pork cheeks with mushrooms and polenta. The dessert was 3 scoops of sorbet with very intense flavors of blueberry, basil and melon. This was one of the best meals I had in Provence.IMG_3709

For the wine, I ordered a Gigondas Domaine du Grand Bourjassot “Cuveé Cécile” 2009.  They have 7.5 acres in Gigondas. The wine is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. This is a full-bodied wine with black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of blueberries and a touch of lavender. About $35 in the US.

 

4 Comments

Filed under French Red, Gigondas, Provence, Restaurants Provence, Tavel

In Provence

When we arrived in Provence the weather was very hot, just perfect for enjoying the Rosé wines from this enchanting part of France.  Of course we would drink some white wine and if the weather cooled off, a red wine or two. We had rented a house in Abignon near Carpentras. It is very near to great wine areas such as Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Cotes du Rhone, and Vaqueyras, so wine would not be a problem.

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

We decided to go out for one meal a day, usually lunch, and have one meal at the house. There is a large organic garden where we can pick our vegetables and there are a number of towns nearby with great farmers markets.

Veal and Langoustine

Veal and Langoustine

 For lunch one afternoon we went to Restaurant L’ Oustalet in Gigondas. This restaurant has a very interesting menu different from the typical ones in the area.  One of the courses I ordered was a carpaccio of veal and langoustine mixed together covered with foam. It was not what I expected but it was very good. They also have a very good wine list from which I ordered a bottle of white wine:IMG_3512

Coudoulet de Beaucastle 2011 Cotes- Du-Rhone made from 30% Bourboulemc, 10% Clairette, 30% Marsanna and 30% Viognier. The vines grow in a 3 acre vineyard between Orange and Avignon. There is manual harvesting, sorting of the grapes, pneumatic pressing, racking and fermentation partly in oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for 8 months. The wines are assembled and bottled without passage at low temperatures. This white wine with a mineral  and savory character, subtle citrus fruit, good acidity, a very pleasing dry finish and long aftertaste.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The house has a pizza oven on the property and one afternoon we decided to make pizza. Michele made the dough and I tended the fire and baked the pizzas.  With the pizza we drank:IMG_3526

Bandol Rosé 2012 AOC Bondol Domaine Tempier made from 50% Mourvédre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 2% Carignan. The soil is a mix of clay and limestone; it is tilled mechanically and by hand. The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins of 30 kg and hand selected in the vineyard and cellar. Vinification is by direct pressing or after cold maceration or by saignées between 5 and 10 percent. This is a Rosé with a lot of body and flavor, floral overtones, peaches, a hint of spice and good acidity. The wine worked very well with the pizza with its different toppings.IMG_3491

Les Palliēres “ au petit Bonheur” 2012 Rosé Vin de Table- the winery is located outside the village of Gigondas.  Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette, the blend depending on the vintage. The soil is clay and limestone and the vines are at 250 to 400. The grapes are sourced from younger vines and the juice is obtained from directed pressing.  Fermentation takes place in 650-liter demi-muids. This is a very pleasant wine with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of melon. We enjoyed this wine with the shrimp that we purchased at the market.

Sparibs

Sparibs

We passed a farm stand one day advertising fresh cepes, porcini mushrooms.  They were big and beautiful and Michele bought a few to serve as our appetizer that night for dinner.  She larded the caps with slices of fresh garlic, drizzled  them with olive oil and sprinkled them with fresh thyme from the garden.  After roasting in a hot oven, they were tender and meaty, just the way we have eaten them in Italy.  For a second course, we had rotisserie spareribs that we had gotten at the market in Carpentras.  The wine for the night was a perfect choice: IMG_3529

Gigondas 2005 Clos du Joncuas made from 80% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah. They use organic methods in the vineyards and traditional vinification. The wine has red and black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of spice. It was an excellent combination with the roasted porcini mushrooms we had at the house. I do not believe this wine is imported into the US but I really liked it. The wine cost 14 Euros in the coop store in Gigondas.

4 Comments

Filed under Bondol, Clos du Joncuas Gigondas, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Domaine Tempier Rose, French Red, French White Wine, Gigondas, Les Pallieres Rose, Pizza and Wine, Provence, Rose, Uncategorized

Drinking More Red, Rose and White in Provence

’’This year, we spent our vacation in Provence.  We rented a house in the tiny town of St. Romaine en Viennois, just a half hour or less from the villages of Gigondas, Beaumes-De Venise, and Chateauneuf du Pape.  The house overlooks a valley of vines and every morning I enjoyed walking among the vines and watching the farmers at work. We spent 10 days there and drank a lot of rosé, some whites, and a few reds.

Then we went to a friend’s home in Eze Village for two days. Here we drank mostly red wine.

 Red Beaumes-De-Venise “Les Trois Amours” 2008 Domaine Beauvalcinte, made from 50% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 10% Carignan, 5% Counoise and 5% Cinsault. The grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place in concrete tanks with natural yeast under controlled temperatures. Maceration lasts for 24 days. This was a very nice wine with red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of raspberry.

 The soil in Gigondas  is composed of limestone, clay and small stones which seemed to be everywhere. The vineyards are on the hills and the plateau and can be seen from the village above.

 Gigondas 2001 Domaine De La Jaufrette.  The wine is made from 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah.  It stays 2 to 3 years in vats and 6 to18 months in foudres according to the vintage and 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. The wine was showing very well with dark fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of spice and leather. There was some wine left in the bottle and I had it with lunch the next day.  It tasted even better.

 The territory of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is north of Avignon on the left bank of the Rhone. It covers the five communes between Orange and Avignon.  Clay and limestone “galettes,” large round stones, help the vines to withstand the dry Mediterranean climate and the mistral (strong winds).

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2009 Domaine du Grand Tinel. The wine is made from 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette and 20% Bourboulance.   90% of the wine is aged  in stainless steel tanks and the rest in new oak barrels. The wine was dry with a mineral character and hints of grapefruit.  It worked very well with tapenade, olives and thumb size sausages that we had as an appetizer.

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2000 Chateau La Nerthe made from 39% Roussanne, 27% Grenache Blanc,19% Clairette and 15% Bourboulence. I do not think the wines undergo malolatic fermentation and 38% of the wine is aged in wood and 62% in tanks. The wood might be barriques. This was the oldest blanc from here that I have had. The wine was showing its age with ripe fruit and a mineral character but it went very well with the smoked salmon we had with lunch.

  Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1989 Chateau Cabrieres made from 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah 20% Mourvedre and 10 Cinsault. The harvest is by hand and usually takes place in the middle of September.  There is a select sorting of the grapes. Fermentation lasts for 4 weeks and includes pumping over, delestage and later malolatic fermentation. The wines are assembled and undergo a light filtration and are aged in Allier oak for 6-12 months. It was drinking like a good older wine with hints of black fruit, prune and spice. It had a nice finish and aftertaste.

 The wines of Cassis

The fishing village and seashore resort of Cassis is situated in the western part of the Cote d’Azur not far from Marseille. The appelation is restricted to the commune of Cassis which covers only some 80 hectares. Here they produce white, rosé and red wine. They are known first for their whites, somewhat for their rosé, and least of all for their reds. At the house of a friend in Eze Village I was able to taste all three.

 Blanc de Blancs Cassis 2009 Domaine du Paternal made from Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne and Doucillon. I was very impressed with this wine. It was balanced, with good acidity, aromas and flavors of grapefruit, herbs, a touch of spice, good mineral character and a very nice finish and aftertaste. It was a delight to drink on the terrace looking at the village of Eze.

 Rosé Cassis 2009 Domaine Du Bagnol made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan. This is a fruity wine with a dry, full body with hints a strawberry and raspberry.

 Red Cassis 2008 Domaine du Paternal made from the same grapes as the Rosé. I had never had a red wine from Cassis before. The red was interesting but not as good as the white.

 Cornas, scorched earth. The production zone has a south/southwest exposure with a semicircle of hill which protect it from the winds and steep terraced hills. The soil contains granite.   It has a hot and dry Mediterranean climate.  Because of these factors, the grapes are the first to be harvested in the Northern Rhone. The area covers 115 hectares all planted with Syrah.

 Cornas Terre Brulee 2004 100% Syrah Domaine Lionnet, they only use organic farming methods and all of the work is done by hand. The only have 2.2 hectares and the vines are between 40-100 years old. All the farming is done by the lunar calendar when possible. The land is worked by a tractor or a horse. No additives are used in making the wine. Only natural yeast is used to have a real expression of the terroir. Grape bunches are placed in small open tanks and the maceration lasts for three weeks. The grapes are “walked on” several times a day during this time. The pulp and stems are shoveled by hand into a 19 century vertical press where a slow pressing takes place. The wine is temporarily placed in tanks so that malolatic fermentation can take place. After the wine is racked and separated from the lees it remains in barrels for two winters.  There is no filtration and no new oak is used. I was very impressed with this wine. It was a big wine with cooked black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cassis, spice, licorice and a touch of violets.

The Wines in the House in Eze

The Wines in the House in St. Romaine en Viennois

Leave a comment

Filed under Cassis, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cornas, French Red, French Wine, Gigondas, Rose, White wine