Gigondas, Cairanne, Rasteau, Suzette… perched winemaking villages, medieval cities, the route, dominated by the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains between vineyards and hillsides is quite beautiful.
La Renjarde estate. A Roman colony, a property owned by the Counts of Toulouse, the barony of Diane de Poitiers and where the entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre used to stay… Today, La Renjarde is known for its Côtes-du-Rhône. The vines flower in bouquets of grenache, cinsault, syrah and mourvèdre to which is added some old carignan. The Alain Dugas family, owners since 1968, produces just two blends with the best vintages: the Domaine de la Renjarde, a classic blend and the Réserve de Cassagne, a special blend from a selection of Grenache and mourvèdre plots, representing just 10% of the production. A surprising wine with a purple colour and aromas of vanilla, tobacco and coffee on the palate. www.renjarde.fr
The Harmas. Jean-Henri Fabre, the renowned entomologist acquired this slice of paradise in 1879. A farmhouse surrounded by fallow land (harmas in provençal dialect) that was also an open sky laboratory for the scientist. In the farmhouse, you can visit the master’s study and precious collections. Route d’Orange. Tel.: 04 90 30 57 62.
Château de Montmirail. The house has always been in the family but the wine estate was created from scratch in the 1960s, 45 hectares gained on the slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail. The vineyard run by Monique Archimbaud Bouteiller is spread over the two municipalities of Vacqueyras and Gigondas and produces wines in both appelations. By way of anecdote, the vinification cellar was installed in the famous old baths in Montmirail where Frédéric Mistral and Sarah Bernhardt liked to take the waters. It suits the wine down to the ground! We should point out the cuvée Gabriel, a dry white wine produced from clairette and bourboulene grapes matured in new vats for 6 months, especially seductive. www.chateau-de-montmirail.com
La Garrigue estate. The Bernard family, Thierry and Dominique, know how to take care of their guests. Their family property, a wine estate where Vacqueyras wine is produced in the three colours, also plays host to a restaurant “Les Florets”. Surrounded by vineyards, in the shade of the tall trees, you can enjoy your lunch on the terrace on a sunny day and try the estate’s wines. We suggest starting with a white Vacqueyras from clairette and grenache grapes that develops a floral bouquet with notes of citrus or the fruity rosé, perfect in the summer. www.domaine-la-garrigue.fr
La Fourmone Estate. Ever since the establishment of the estate in 1765, Marie-Thérèse Combe and her son Albin have carried on the traditional work of winegrowers producing Vacqueyras and Gigondas with the 13 grape varieties, a safe bet ! It’s the land that makes the difference. The Gigondas, in terraces on clay-limestone hillsides, produces a wine that is tannic and spicy. With the Vacqueyras, planted in the plain on a light and sandy soil, we come onto violet and red fruit. The Trésor du Poète blend, in honour of the provençal poet Mistral, has been carefully crafted from grenache and syrah grapes with strong notes of red fruits. a été soigneusement élaborée à partir de grenache et syrah très orientée sur le fruit rouge. Very discreet, the Cigalou blend reflects its land, that of olive trees and resinous laurel and thyme plants, another poem to savour ! www.fourmone.com
Durban estate. LThe estate exists since the XIIth century and enjoys a stunning view over the Dentelles de Montmirail. Vineyards, on hillsides overlooking Beaumes-de-Venise, that Philippe and Henri Leydier were fortunate enough to present to President Sarkozy in July 2011. The president who isn’t a wine amateur might not have had the pleasure of enjoying the estate’s Muscat wines. Their Muscat Vielles Vignes 2010, gold medal at the 2011 Agricultural show, with notes of candied pears and apricots is perfect with foie gras and Roquefort. Their large collection of wines in the three colours, Vins de Pays du Vaucluse and AOC is on display at their tasting cellar in the village. Tel.: 04 90 62 97 92. www.domainedurban.com
Bernardins estate. This former property of the Bernardin monks was converted into a wine estate. The Muscat already being grown at the time and was enjoyed by Pope Clement VI and King Henri IV. Louis Castaud, founder of the AOC Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, is none other than the ancestor of the current owners. The Gastaud family, oenologists, cellar masters, winegrowers, continue in the footsteps of their illustrious grandfather. The estate produces wines that are lauded in the specialised press both at home and abroad. Our favourites are the rosé des Bernardins 2009 and the rosé des Balmes. Tasting cellar in the heart of the village. Tel.: 04 90 12 42 42. www.domaine-des-bernardins.com
Balma Venitia cellar. The cooperative cellar of the winegrowers of Beaumes-de-Venise is the place to go to taste the delicious muscat wines in the company of experienced sommeliers. The wine library holds some old vintages and some great reserves. On a big screen, the screening of the film « Terroir de Vie » is a great way to visualise the work of the winegrowers on the vines. The cellar organises wine-themed events all year round. Quartier Ravel, 228 route de Carpentras. Tel.: 04 90 12 41 00.
The Dolium. Set up inside the Balma Venitia cellar, chef Pascal Poulain’s restaurant proposes a Mediterranean inspired menu that truly comes into its own accompanied by some great carefully chosen Rhone Valley wines Tel. : 04 90 12 80 00.
A tiny perched village hiding a gem: Our Lady of Aubune’s chapel with its superb IXth century Roman clocktower.
Château Redortier.The Château de Mon Père vintage 2010 was awarded gold and silver at the Concours Général Agricole in Paris. After tasting it, Robert Parker gave it 90/92. Sabine de Menthon and Isabelle have been running the 35 hectare estate for 20 years with two blends in Gigondas and Beaumes-de-Venise. They created this blend especially, in memory of their grandfather: François de Menthon who was Justice Minister for the provisional government after the Liberation. It is only natural that this Gigondas is robust and colourful, an explosion of blackcurrant and spices. The cellar « La Grange de Redortier » is located at the heart of the village and proposes carefully selected local produce alongside the estate’s wines. Tel.: 04 90 62 96 43. www.chateauredortier.canalblog.com
A high perched village, the view over the fortications to the vineyards and the Cevennes is magnificent. It is the starting point to go and discover the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain. On the village square, cellar, restaurant, a divine moment! Gigondas is a mountainous island encased in the Dentelles de Montmirail. The Gigondas wines are unique. Grenache associated to syrah and mourvèdre grapes, altitude vineyards offer wines a generosity, depth and expression that is very fine and fresh.
There are four medallions on the facade, framed by two caryatids describing the vine and the olive tree. Eugène Raspail’s family, himself the nephew of the illustrious politician Raspail, is engrained at the heart of this magnificent property surrounded by a park and vines. This is one of the high places in the history of Gigondas wine and Christian and François Meffre have been perpetuating the tradition since 1979 with a line of great wines including the flagship 2009 vintage Château Raspail 2009, gold medallist at Orange. The Meffre family also own the Château Saint-Jean, formerly owned by the lords of Sérignan that produces Côtes-du-Rhône Village Plan de Dieu wines to be discovered. www.chateauraspail.com
The Gigondas hospice. The château and its fortifications were built in the XIIIth century. From the origin, it was dedicated to welcoming the poor and sick. The Saint Calvaire and Saint Sépulcre friary became a pilgrimage destination, famous throughout the Dauphiné region.
In 1984, the town hall saved the abandoned site and redeveloped it. From 1994, this high medieval village expresses itself through a route with monumental works of art by highly respected French and foreign artists. A marvellous fleeting architectural open sky scene managed and renewed every year thanks to the talent of its young curator, Dominique Bonsignori. During the warmer months, it is the setting for wine and musical events. Tel.: 04 90 65 80 76. www.gigondas-vin.com
The Maison du Gigondas. The AOC Gigondas syndicate, very dynamic, has edited a small and very poetic document with texts from François Aubral and black and white photographies on the « Vinaltude ». A major book on Gigondas is also on sale there. Rue Eugène Raspail. Tel.: 04 90 65 85 53. www.gigondas-vin.com
The Oustalet.On the village square, this winemaker’s restaurant belongs to Mathieu Perrin’s Beaucastel estate and its chef is Laurent Deconinck, formerly at Senderens. At the first rays of sunshine, you’ll be seated outside under the plane trees. Inside, in a highly contemporary setting, there are a dozen tables from where one can admire a wine library with a few rare blends waiting to be decanted. The vegetable patch is right next door and organic vegetables are celebrated, flavoursome, tender and delicate in their preparation. Tel.: 04 90 65 85 30. www.restaurant-oustalet.fr
La Roubine estate. The estate was born in 2000 with its first vintage produced by Eric and Sylvie Ughetto that retrained with great passion as winemakers. A small 15 hectare estate, small quantities but great quality. Eric cultivates his vineyard with cultural practices, indigenous yeasts, 14 month maturation in part within cement vats with no splicing or filtration. Gigondas, Vacqueyras as well as AOC Côtes-du Rhône in rich Sablet and Séguret, particularly interesting to discover. Tel: 04 90 65 80 76 www.domainelaroubine.com
A XVth century village entirely restored by its inhabitants and one of the most beautiful villages in France. The 800 hectares of vines produce Côtes-du-Rhône Villages wines.
Mourchon estate. Enshrined between Séguret and the Mont Ventoux, the estate was founded in 1998 by the McKinley family, originally from Scotland, they fell in love with the region and its wines.
Walter became the owner of 17 hectares of wines on the heights of Seguret. In little time, and thanks to rigorous and meticulous work on the vines, the estate acquired an international reputation for the high quality of its Côtes-du-Rhône Villages wines. Three blends, Tradition, Grande Réserve and Loubié, a rosé from a plot planted in syrah, grenache and cinsault that offers a pink and delicately fruity juice. Alongside wine, they also produce olive oil and a beauty cream elaborated from the estate’s produce, oil, grapeseed, aprico. www.domainedemourchon.com
Sainte-Cécile les Vignes
Château les Quatre Filles. Nicole and her three sisters Sophie, Régine and Martine ; the choice of name is not haphazard as the ladies are in the majority at the château. A vineyard whose first acts go back to 1715. The 45 hectares converted into organic farming produce a majority of red Côtes-du-Rhône wine. The range includes other AOC wines such as the Cairanne Villages and Rochegude Villages, a blend of grenache and syrah and a white Côtes-du-Rhône blanc matured in oak barrels, perfect for an aperitif. Bookings are taken for meals at the château with a visit of the wine stores and tastings all year round. Route de Lagarde Paréol. Tel.: 04 90 30 84 12 www.chateau-4filles.com
La Présidente estate. Named after the President of the parliament in Aix in the XVIIIth century and a former owner. His wife, Lucrèce, known as “La Présidente”, had vines planted around it. Declared property of state during the Revolution, it was acquired in 1968 by Max Auber, the founder of the University of Wine at Suze-La-Rousse. Cécile Aubert presides today over her estate’s destiny with its 110 hectares. Côtes-du-Rhône, Cairanne and Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. The tasting cellar is open all year round. www.presidente.fr
Brusset estate. Laurent Brusset is a third generation winegrower. André, a producer of olives and abricots, turns to wine and launches the estate. He is one of the first to commercialise his bottled wine. Daniel acquires a vineyard at the heart of the Dentelles de Montmirail especially noticed by Parker. The grandson, Laurent, today owns 69 hectares of vineyards over four prestigious appellations, Gigondas, Cairanne, Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Côtes-du-Rhône and Ventoux. The wines of the Brusset estate are on display at their cellar « Les Hauts de Montmirail » in the village of Gigondas. Tel.: 04 90 65 81 56. www.domainebrusset.fr
Clos des Mourres estate. Winemaking is a real reconversion for Jean-Philippe Bouchet. An occupation he practices with conviction and passion. No chemical fertiliser, only natural preparations to look after his 16 hectares of vines of the Cairanne mountain. Planted with tradional grape varieties such as carignan and clairette blanche, the vineyard currently only produces red Cairanne and Côtes-du-Rhône Village wines. A very promising first vintage in 2009 that has been lauded by experts. Some good references. Visits and tastings by appointment. Tel.: 06 74 65 98 32. www.closdesmourres.fr
One of the winechictravel team’s favourite spots, the Rasteau cellar was awarded the National Wine Tourism prize in 2011. This cellar is not just a wine library with tastings and a shop selling the Rasteau wines under the Ortas brand but most importantly it is a vast 150 square metre venue for Art, Wine and hospitality. Elegant contemporary architecture with stone, wood, light that creates the perfect atmosphere for visitors to tasting rather than drink, admire rather than see. We should highlight a specialty: the Rasteau Signature, a sweet 100% black grenache natural wine, matured in old oak barrels with accents of cocoa and spices, fresh and the Paul-Emile blend. Welcoming, interactive and dynamic under the direction of Martine Boulard, the cellar showcases contemporary art works and nice objects linked to wine. She organises a number of events and workshops and you can find the programme on www.rasteau.com Route des Princes d’Orange. Tel.: 04 90 10 90 14. www.rasteau.com
Le Grand Pré. Between Rasteau and Vaison-la-Romaine, the regular patrons and winegrowers from the region call it « Raoul’s restaurant ». With one Michelin star, Raoul looks after the kitchen and his wife, Flora, looks after the dining room. Happiness is in the plate. In Spring, you can enjoy aspargus carpaccio with vanilla and apple vinaigrette with a suitable sorbet. In Autumn, figs are celebrated, in « anchoiade » , roasted or as dessert. After that, it is the turn of truffles in every form. The bistro « Préface » offers a simple, tasty and good value menu with a good selection of wines by the glass. It goes without saying these are Côtes-du-Rhône wines ! Route de Vaison-la-Romaine. Tel.: 04 90 46 18 12. www.legrandpre.com
VVaison certainly deserves its title of « Roman ». Medieval city and Antique site, the town is the largest collection of Gallo-Roman archaeological excavation sites in France, eight of which are open to the public. From small squares to fountains, terraces to cafés, one discovered the ruins of lavish villas, including those referred to as « Au Buste d’Argent et à Apollon » as well as the antique theatre erected in the first century BC.
Tourist Office. Place du Chanoine Sautel. Tel.: 04 90 36 02 11. www.vaison-ventoux-tourisme.com
Lou Canesteou. Josiane Déal, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, figures in the top 10 cheesemakers with Bannon, Ricodon from the Drôme, Perrail des Cabanes, Mascare de Banon, Pélardon… Little gems that are good companions to the Region’s wine tastings. 10 rue Raspail. Tel.: 04 90 36 31 30
Le Jour et la Nuit. A new guest house in a refurbished XVIth century silk factory. The young owners have tastefully handled the contrast between old and contemporary. Just 10 minutes from the town, you’re at the heart of the countryside, surrounded by vines, fruit trees and downy oaks. Bookings taken for the Table d’hôtes. Tel.: 06 80 48 66 47. www.journuitvaison.fr