The summer is over. It’s time for the to-ing and fro-ing of grape-pickers and tractors wending their way backwards and forwards, from cellar to vineyards. Although there’s a lovely, friendly atmosphere, grape-picking is also genuinely hard work. It’s not always fun, particularly at the end of the day, when you’ve been bent double since early morning, labouring under a blazing sun. But don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you try this!
If you like Jimmy Hendrix, vintage cars, wine and beautiful scenery, this quirky trip is perfect for you!
All French wine regions boast spectacular countryside and plenty of opportunity to taste wine, but the Vaucluse region offers all of that plus a wonderful climate, historic architecture and some of the prettiest villages in Europe.
Set up in the old wine cellars of the Camille Cayran Cooperative in Cairanne, we are totally immersed in a sensory itinerary in the world of wine. With its elegant scenography, plunged in dreamlike semi-darkness, it offers a beautiful moment of poetry and renews the pleasure of (re)discovering the Designation’s fine wines.
For the last few years the Mouriesse wine laboratory in Châteauneuf-du-Pape has been developing wine tasting workshops for individuals and wine enthusiasts of all levels. Perfect for shattering the myths surrounding wine tasting; you will finally be able to find the words and know what to look out for when tasting a good wine or even an average wine. I slipped into an introductory workshop with a few beginners, to see if we could get away with telling the wine maker “This one’s got legs!” without being politely shown the door.
Since man has been making wine – and deriving great pleasure from it – he has celebrated the end of the past year, good or bad, by drawing the new wine from the vat. This young wine is like a newborn crying for the first time, which is sometimes a little hard to take, but often heralds wonders for the palate. As Millévin approaches, the great autumnal gathering in Avignon celebrating new wine, I went to Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes to meet the young and friendly team of winemakers from Chantecôtes, to taste their new wine and find out if cooperatives can produce superb wines. It was a Bacchanalian encounter with Sainte Cécile, patron saint of musicians and Saint Vincent, patron saint of winegrowers.
At Château d’Hugues, located between Uchaux and Sérignan, the beautiful red hue of the estate’s wines matches the red velvet theatre curtain and the red paint on the artist’s palette. In addition to growing grape vines, owner, Bernard Pradier, also cultivates a passion for the arts, staging events in a large building on the estate. This summer, he’s preparing a genuine mini-festival: this winegrower-showman has decided to return to the stage, glass in hand, to retrace the history of the vineyard and introduce a range of musicians and poets.
Suzette is a little village perched on the Dentelles de Montmirail, a breath of fresh air, a Garden of Eden not far from Beaumes de Venise and an outstanding area for wine. It was here, several years ago, that Sylvie and Bernard Mendez set up Domaine Beauvalcinte with the aim to make wine as good as it is organic. I went to pay them a visit…
Vacqueyras is a delicious appellation from the Southern Rhône Valley, a region boasting a diverse terroir with superb landscapes and wine-growers who’ve been in the business for generations.The Vignerons de Caractère Cooperative plays a key role in the wine industry, in this quiet, little part of the country, and fully intends to keep it that way. Since it was created in 1957, it has witnessed constant innovation and successfully anticipated important trends in wine-making.Nearly 100 cooperative members contribute grapes from their vineyards – a great source of pride to them – and the winery doesn’t disappoint; every year, its magnificent vats produce no fewer than thirty fine wines. After a short trip to this immense battleship of a winery, it’s lunch at L’Éloge, the winery’s unusual restaurant.
Try a nice wine – it’s so good. Make it yourself and take your bottle away with you – now that’s magic! Come to Maison Lavau, in the heart of the Côtes du Rhône, where I create my own wine, for a very enjoyable workshop.