I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines. Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield
Our visit to the country outside Avignon took us to the famous regions of Chateauneuf Du Pape, but also to the region of our favourite wine – Gigondas. Alas much of the wines will never grace the shores of BC, and if ever, not at the prices we enjoyed on the French farms
Wines are initially associated with the region, and any wine in the region can be designated Cotes De Rhones. As long as it is within the designated boundary. But then expected quality is increased as wines are associated with specific villages. A village designation is viewed as a superior wine. There are a number of villages of which Chateauneuf Du Pape is most famous.
Avignon was the home of the Catholic Pope during a short period in the 1300’s, before Rome (re)won that honour. They built fabulous monuments in the city, but one pope wanted a “cottage” home to avoid the heat of the summer. As such this home was built with surrounding vineyards and came to be known as the new palace of the pope….Chateauneuf Du Pape.
The wines in the valley are grown in earth that is more large stones than soil. Cascading down to the valley after the ice age it is home to Chateauneuf . A very unforgiving “soil” that requires the vines to work hard to survive and gives more intense flavours. As you climb the hill the soil becomes less boulder like and the soil is more forgiving and the flavours are more mellow ((Gigondas).
There are a number of villages that have achieved their own designation and use a combination of the varieties approved to make their wine. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan, Counoise, Picpoul, White varieties: Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Viognier, Picpoul blanc. But the first four are predominate.
Below is a sample of our tastings, after which we slept very well.