Day Trip 9 - Wine Tour: Châteauneuf-du-Pape
The Isle is fairly well placed for a wine tour. Here is one we did as an example but there are plenty of variations.
Drive straight to Châteauneuf-du-Pape (probably the best AOC in the region and famous for its red wines even though about one bottle in 16 is white) and park in town. It’s a nice little town even without the wine with plenty of history and views even if not much of the château itself remains. It has some well reviewed restaurants. The tourist office can give you a map of the wine locations and a map of the Vaucluse area in general. On the steps up to the château from Rue ville Vieille you will find the Cave du Verger des Papes under the restaurant with the similar name. Claude conducts a good tasting but at the same time, gives a good introductory spiel about what makes the appellation what it is. He talks about the stones, the water, the 13 allowed grape varieties and some of the rules of the appellation. There are lots of wine vendors in town but it may be more interesting to pick a couple of estates out of town and get out and see the rocky vineyards and bush pruned vines. Beware though, where we come from wineries on the tourist circuit wouldn’t dream of closing on weekends but the French think differently. Do your research if there is somewhere specific you want to go.
From C-D-P, it is not that far cross country to the lower Rhône vineyards with famous names like Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beumes-de-Venise. We chose the latter to have a look at the famous muscat wines that carry the town name. These can be like fruit cake in a bottle at their best, intensely sweet but not cloying with enough acidity to keep the finish fresh. Mostly known as ‘dessert wines’ they also go fabulously with blue cheese as an apéro. We visited three places at C-D-P, had lunch on the way across to Beaumes and then had one visit there. Even with spitting during tastings that was enough for a day we thought and there were no votes for a fifth winery - in other words, don’t overestimate what you might achieve in a day without it all becoming a blur.
A votre santé.