What a better "bonjour!" greeting than to discover at once the oh-so-stoney terroir of Chateauneuf du Pape!
Vines of Chateauneuf are right beside the road. No enclosures, partitioning the different properties - just open terroir!
A few helpful road signs heading into the CDP village.
GPS got me only so far.... Francois Giraud found me nearby and escorted me to their facility.
Francois Giraud in the flesh!
Spigot key for tasting 2009 CDP Tradition out of the barrel!
Stainless tank home to more 09 juice.
The tasting line up! 2006 and 2007 CDPs in the mix among several others...
If you look closely over Francois' left shoulder you can see a young boy, about 14. It's his father Pierre working in the vineyards.
The 2009 Blanc ready for shipment!
Next up... Clos Mont Olivet! A domaine with a LONG tradition of winemaking.
Down in the cellar - this is one cool (literally and figuratively) tasting area!
My host, winemaker Theirry Sabon. He was very quiet and focused taking me through the wines, at first.
Relaxing into the meeting a bit now. I wanted very badly to take a photo of his hands - black/purple/red ALL over! I know it takes me three days to get the stain off my fingers after a full day of tasting. I can only imagine this look is permanent! Loved seeing it.
Au revoir, Thierry!
Just passing through town in search of a snack, look what I stumbled upon! We carry their 2006 CDP bottling. Serious stuff.
Back in Avignon - the Papal Palace in the flesh! This walled-in palace is the central point of the city, it's walls my nemisis to drive around to just get around.
The square at the Palace.
More active earlier in the day, with vendors setting up their wares for all to consider. The French were not at all pushy, letting you peruse to see what might strike your fancy.
The French "take" on California's In and Out Burgers??
Loved seeing the vines in the flower pots outside this bistro.
Carousel in the city's center.
In a wine shop I found this Gros Nore Bandol vin. Ironically, Dan and I had just tasted the 1999 vintage at a trade event the previous week! We fell in love and now carry just a few bottles of this tremendous wine.
And Chateau Rayas for a mere 140 Euro! A STEAL.
Tavel was the only place I encountered that really "marketed" themselves in this way. I was highly entertained to see it. Best rose in the world. It was a definite "must see"/"must taste" area for me, particularly given the time of year I was visiting.
Limestone home/terrace in Tavel.
The laundromat in Tavel. Closed on Saturdays, apparently.
At last, I found Dom. de la Mordoree! Took a few tries as GPS only got me so far and my French - and the townspeople's English - was not so good.
Christophe Delorme of the Domaine really pulled out all the stops for me! His wines were so gorgeous my enthusiasm prompted quite a lot of uncorking - including his 2007 Tavel rose, which was absolutely stunning, and something I admittedly preferred to the 2009 (though the comparison is a tough one at that!). Feel free to ask me about their individual nuances....
And here we have the 2009 Tavel...
Note the bottle on the far, far right... Apparently Christophe innovates with properties in the Languedoc. The wine is a blend of the highly unusual Marselan grape and Merlot. Delish! Wish we could import it. (Though we do carry the Dom Sallies Marselan, another bit hit around BSFW.)
Limestone terroir of Tavel.
Tricky driving... Much deeper than this appears here, but my car (Bernard) did quite well! I was so proud of him (and grateful).
Many soil types in Lirac and Tavel. This is a stoney red clay, which Christophe told me imparted the spiciness in the wine. Look left and you see this. Look right and you see limestone (see next images)!
This photos is a little blurry not because of my lackluster photography skills, but because the mighty Mistral (which blew, and blew, and blew at abnormally high speeds like 42mph) was in full swing.
Note the limestone soils here...
Benard and I didn't quite make it over to Dom Lafond Roc-Epstine in time. The French take a siesta a good part of the mid-day....
The view from Lafond...
Next up, Cairanne! And on the way, I found one of my favorite rose producers we carry.
Over the river and through the village...
Once again my GPS only got me so far, but somehow Bruno Boisson (pictured next on the left) knew exactly which car I was driving as I approached the village. With a cell phone in hand, we connected and I was able to follow him back to home-base seamlessly. I tasted with him and his brother, Alain, who makes one of their many wines.
Bruno and Alain Boisson
More rock samples (and yes, I snuck a few of these back through customs!)
The lineup at Domaine Boisson...
Bruno Boisson's vinification chart adorns the back wall of their cellar door, ripe with all the pertinent information and dates required to make outstanding wine.
Upper level inside the winery at Boisson. Too cool! You can look down into the tanks from above.
See the sparkle on the inside of the tank? That's tartrate crystals, which will be cleaned off before the next vintage.
Lower decks at the winery.
Heading out of Cairanne. Gorgeous!
Vines of Cairrane
Driving along, out of Cairrane towards Gigondas... check out the wind blowing the bushes!
Driving along the D7... I found Gigondas seemed to be a more "outdoorsy" locale, with lots of hiking trails, cyclists, etc.
Stumbled upon this famous property - so quaint.