Travel Diary Preview:
Terroir & Wine
Provence, Gard, Rhone Valley and Ardeche
Walking through vineyards, mountain walks, foraging for wild flowers and herbs, cooking, wine-tasting, fine dining, bed and breakfast in châteaux, crossing rivers and riding on steam trains – it’s all in a day’s work when on a recent “Wine and Terroir” press trip to the South of France; covering Provence (including Vaucluse), Gard, the Rhone Valley and Ardeche, the trip was packed with amazing and unique opportunities to discover and explore the region. Today’s post is a “sneak preview” taken from my travel notes of what’s to come, a general photo diary of the area if you will, a taster to get your appetite and curiosity piqued.
The press trip followed the “Wine and Terroir” trails in all the different départements and regions – it was a sensory experience, with all manner of activities organised to tempt our taste buds and challenge our perceptions of the area. We were fortunate to stay in each region for at least a day, in order to take full advantage of the diverse produce that each department offered……and although they are often all grouped together and called “Provence”, they are uniquely different to each other, with different geographical landscapes, customs, traditions and “Terroir”.
So, what does the term “Terroir” actually mean? It’s a term that people use all the time (sometimes incorrectly), the meaning can be a little ambiguous……but simply put, it means the special characteristics, geography, geology and climate that determine and interact with plants and produce of a region – such as grapes for wine, coffee, tea, hops for beer, milk for cheese, vegetables and fruit; it’s a term that epitomises an area’s produce, thus making it unique to that particular locality…..it gives characteristics, taste and flavour to what is grown and made, and our trip was planned around the different “Terroir” in the départements we visited, with special emphasis on the local wine and food.
I will be sharing several more detailed posts of my trip over the next few weeks, where I will lead you through spectacularly beautiful vineyards, cross UNESCO Roman bridges, forage for herbs and flowers – and then cook with them, blend bespoke wines, ride a Segway up to a mountain vineyard, visit local markets, stay in historical hotels and enjoy wine tasting with fine dining. Today’s post is just a teaser and taster of what’s to come……but for now, let me leave you with a copy of our itinerary, and a photo gallery of some of the places we visited, the places we stayed in and what we tasted and enjoyed. Karen
Orange – Participate in a wine blending workshop at wine estate Lavau-Château Maucoil (www.lavau.eu), where you will learn about the main grape varieties in the southern Rhône Valley – mainly Grenache and Syrah – and have a go at blending them to make a perfect wine! (Of course you will take your own blend back home for everyone to sample your wine-making skills)
Check-in at Hôtel le Burrhus in Vaison la Romaine
Dinner at La Belle Etoile in Vaison-la-Romaine
Visit the village of Brantes, behind the Mont Ventoux to meet les Aventurières du Goût: with these extraordinary ladies, you will collect edible wild plants and flowers, learn how to cook with them and enjoy lunch in the sun with what you have prepared.
Drive to the wine-producing village of Cairanne to visit the Parcours Sensoriel – a sensory path to discover wine in a different way.
Dinner and overnight at Domaine des Clos participating in the Costières de Nîmes wine tasting.
Visit the wine estate “Château Mourgues du Grès” and discover its nature trail – Late morning wine tasting at the estate.
Depart for the Pont du Gard site which is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. Lunch on site. Guided tour of the site in the afternoon
Transfer from Gard to the Ardèche region.
Arrival in Tournon-sur-Rhône – Check-in at the Hotel Les Azalées – Dinner at the hotel.
Depart for the station of St-Jean-de-Muzols next to Tournon; depart Mastrou on a steam train to see the listed buildings in Ardèche along the wild gorges of the Doux.
Lunch at the wine bar Carafes en Folie.
Appointment with Marie-Josée Faure Les Sens Ciel for discovery and wine initiation. Segway through the St. Joseph Vineyard!
Check-in at the Hotel de la Villéon mansion in the heart of the historic centre of Tournon-sur-Rhône.
Dinner at the Comako restaurant.
With thanks to:
Disclaimer: I was a guest of the above tourist boards and I was not asked to write a post; all views and opinions are my own and are not representative of any of the aforementioned tourist boards.
With special thanks to my fellow intrepid travellers, who made the trip so enjoyable, informative and fun…..
and my friend Fiona from London Unattached