Stop - and taste!
Degustation is a word that anyone who has traveled around France knows. Over the years, we have stopped up a lot of places to visit the wine farmer. There are many manufacturers to make the annual approx. 8 billion bottles, and there are very different experiences you get by stopping up. You must remember that they want you to come inside. If you also respect the opening hours of the house (remember that they still have their Siesta-break from approx. 12-14), you are almost always received in a very positive way. The owner is proud of his wine, and he wants to share that pride. We have tried many funny things, from ending up buying half of the restored from an old man who spoke so excited about his wine in a French-French we could hardly follow. It's many years ago, but we remember, that we paid 33 Franc per. bottle. The wine tasted heavenly, even when we got home, and the only thing we regretted was that we had not bought it all. We just have to remember to mention that we were in Burgundy!
Another place we ended up being brought into the field where a working horse pulled the plow into the ecological field. Fantastic experience because the owners, husband and wife, told about the production as if we were sent by the French Ministry of Wine.
Try it - stop up - there is no shopping bargain, and it's also ok to buy a single bottle or two.
In addition, we will mention the Caves des Vins. In fact, this actually means wine cellar, but it's usually stores where local producers have joined forces to present and sell their wine. You pay the same price as at the Chateau - the selection is just much bigger.
The best example of a Cave des Vins we found on Route Nationale 7, Les Arcs-sur-Argens. Here is the Maison des Vins. Large selection (around 800 bottles), every week 15-20 new wines to taste, professional service (also in English) - and wine in all price ranges. Guided tours are also organized with more thorough tastings. See more under LINKS.
Coopérative Vinicole de Figanieres
Many, as mentioned, purchase the wine at Caves des Vins, but in many places it happens on the Cooperative, which is almost the same. These are also found in many places, often located next to the road. The wine farmers who do not even have the time to transform the grapes into a liquid consistency, deliver the entire grape harvest to the cooperative - and get it all back in bottles. On the road connecting Figanieres and D54 you will fro instance find this cooperative - here you buy the wine from the area in bottles and on plastic.
In this section, just a few words about the wines from the eastern part of PACA, namely the northern part of Nice. Here is a small area, St. Jeannet, whom we accidentally encountered when we ate at the Auberge de Tourrettes. When we ate there last back in 2012, we were served a very good red wine for the food. It turned out to be Cuvée du Pressoir Romain from the Domaine des hautes Collines de la Côte d'Azur. We have bought it a couple of times since we have been on the edges by car. Unfortunately, it does not happen so often, but it was going to happen in the summer of 2015, so there were a couple of boxes of cuvées in the trunk.
"God created man - man created the wine" (Victor Hugo)
The 7th wine sky, L'amphitryon, is featured in the guide/The other cities/Draguignan. It might be that sky Victor Hugo thought about!
In beginning of this little section we will focus on the rosés. As mentioned on another page, appr. 10 % of all rosé-wine in the world comes from Provence. Out of all wine produced in Provence around 80 % is rosé. That means it is a huge industry in the area. It is impossible to come around all that enormous number of different wines, so again: this will be a very limited selection of wines, producers and areas.
But if you want to read about the rosés, we can recommend a new book, written by Elisabeth Gabay MW, the president of the jury for the International Rosé Championship. She is a regular judge at Decanter’s annual World Wine Awards and The Drinks Business Rosé Masters, as well as at many other competitions and magazine panel tastings.
The book is very simply called: Rosé - with the addition: Understanding the pink wine revolution.
To get more knowledge about rosés, it is not necessary to buy the book. You can go to Eliabeths homepage, www.pink.wine. Very interesting page for professionals and for lovers of roséwine.
Going further west (and leaving the super rosés behind), we encounter one of France's most famous wine regions, the Côte du Rhône. Huge area, towering high quality especially in the red-wines. Spend some days here, there is a cornucopia to choose from.
Go for instance to Châteauneuf du Pape, from which some of the world's best wines come. The small town is nice and when you stay there you are not in doubt where you are. The city is characterized by its wines, and there are plenty of opportunities to taste the delights. The same goes for Gigondas. In the city there are a couple of really good restaurants on the town square - and then there is of course also a cave or two. Hurry up there!
In the area of Gigondas at the little mountain range Dentelles de Montmirail there are a number of very beautiful and charming villages. Let's mention the two closest, Sablet Seguret, from which there are also excellent wines. A little further away lies Rasteau, we have moved a little north, we are in Haut-Vaucluse. Rasteau AOC was upgraded to Côtes-du-Rhône Cru in 2010, and Rasteau is thus the city last named. Very good red wines are made, but in addition to these, the area is also known for its sweet wines, Vins doux naturel.
The best advice we can provide for the search of good wine experiences in the above-mentioned areas is to stay at our selected Chambres d'hôtes at either Chateauneuf du Pape or the Seguret. The owners here are deeply engaged in the local wine world, and you get lots of tips where you can drive and experience the greatest pleasures.
C'est la Vie