Chateauneuf Du Pape
In Chateauneuf Du Pape, famous for its red blends that highlight Grenache Noir, Syrah and Mourvèdre, we visited Roger Sabon, Domaine Janasse, Chateau du Caillou, Chateau Le Nerthe, Chateau Beaucastel and Chateau Mont-Redon. Roger Sabon and Chateau du Caillou were two of our “stand out” favorites. Stylistically, the red wines we tasted from these two houses were well balanced, integrated and fruit forward. The white wines of this region are also blends and feature Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Roussanne, Bourbelenc and Picpoul Blanc (we grow the first three!). Domaine Janasse reminded us of Domaine Artefact- the owner/family were all onsite and there were children playing in the tasting room. It was a heartfelt experience and we had a memorable discussion with Aime Sabon, the owner/winemaker.
A few observations: many of the wines are fermented in concrete tanks, we were surprised to learn that the white wines are often aged in neutral oak and many of the winemakers are leaning towards wines that are more fruit forward with lower alcohol. The result is more “new world” style wines. The addition of oak on the white wines contributed to a textured mouth feel and complexity. It was more challenging to identify specific varietals.
We enjoyed anniversary dinner at La Mirande with fellow wine club members Sara and Doug Zimmers and their son Drew. It was a five-course affair in the hotel’s candlelit garden. The cuisine was amazing, and we were blown away by the extraordinary presentation (special shout out on the beets, lamb and monkfish). See the photo of the monkfish atop three roasted tomatoes that were each infused with a different herb and when popped in your mouth was a flavor explosion!. In famous haute cuisine fashion, each entrée was prepared in multiple ways: smoked, seared, grilled, poached/sous vide, etc.
The following day we met up with family Zimmers for more wine tasting and Le Tour de France. For any cyclist, it was an epic experience: Le Tour is not only the riders, but a two-hour pre-cyclist retinue of team cars, motorcycles, sponsors- replete with LTDF swag items, helicopters, VIP’s and gendarmes. It was blazing hot and after the 15 second cyclist whirlwind, we walked into the quaint town of Uzès for an après-Tour lunch on the town square.
We visited the walled city of Carpentras (the Saturday market was spectacular, and we discovered one of the best OMG experiences/patisseries in France- Maison Jouvaud (by noted chef Frédéric Jouvaud). We also visited wineries in Vacqueryas and Gigondas (home to amazing Grenache Noir vineyards terraced below the famous Dentelles de Montmirail). We enjoyed dinner at L’Oustalet in Gigondas, a tiny acclaimed restaurant owned by the Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel fame. Our takeaway – we were served a very simple, yet elegant appetizer of the freshest sheep’s milk cheese with a ricotta like texture, drizzled with olive oil, garnished with a sprig of rosemary and fresh lemon wedges. We enjoyed squeezing lemon over the cheese then slathering it onto a piece of rustic French bread with a glass of Domaine Cristia Grenache Blanc! Perfection!