It has been 6 months since our trip to France. I can’t believe it has already been 6 months but at the same time, it feels like it was forever ago. Our entire trip was phenomenal. But sometimes, the things you have zero expectations for end up surprising you the most. That is how I feel about both our tour of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and our trip to Cassis. Both were 1/2 day tours so we just got a little taste of each. They were perfect. I didn’t get worn out so it was just pure enjoyment.
Today, as the title suggests, I want to reminisce about Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We took an afternoon wine tour with Benoit from Avignon Prestige Tours. It was awesome. Benoit knows so much about the region, tells you great spots to take pictures and is very honest about your best options for purchasing/shipping. That was helpful since we bought quite a lot of wine considering it was only a 4 hour tour. And truth be told, I wish we would have bought more.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is only about a 20 minute drive from Avignon. It is the village where the French Popes had their summer residence. The town is adorable, the views are stunning and the wine is out of this world.
Talk about French Wine history- this place has it. They created A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), in very basic terms- rules created by the government that a grower must follow in order to say they are a wine producer from the specified region. Quality control if you will. If memory serves, Benoit told us that the youngest producer in Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 10 generations old. Did you catch that? I feel the need to repeat it. The YOUNGEST producer is 10 GENERATIONS old! I didn’t even think to ask about the oldest producer, I was too dumbfounded.
The laws governing wine production are also very strict. I don’t remember everything now but two things stuck with me:
- No irrigation is allowed. Because of the conditions of the soil they can actually go a year without rain. Obviously they don’t want to but it is possible.
- No machines. They have to hand pick the grapes. Machine picking picks all the grapes- the good and the bad. Here you have to pick by hand so you can be sure they only pick the best grapes. It is back-breaking work but the rest of us benefit.
Thirteen grape varietals are allowed to be grown. But, the main ones are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre for the famous reds; Roussanne and Grenache Blanc for the lesser known whites. I am more of a red wine lover but if you have the chance to try a white from this region, I highly recommend you do so. Delish.
Of the wines we tasted, my favorites were from Chateau de la Gardine. The shopkeeper was so nice too! We shipped 6 bottles directly from the store (that showed up to Missouri in 3 days!) and she gave us a shipper box so we could check the box on the plane and bring home some of the other wines we purchased. It took 4 of us to figure out how to fold the box but everyone was willing to help.
It is fun to unpack when you get home too!
No recipe today. Just wanted to tell you to go to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If that isn’t quite feasible today, go buy a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine at your local wine store and start the weekend off with a special treat.