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September 10, 2008


Filed under: Provence 2008, Travel, Wine — anotherheader @ 11:58 pm

Perhaps this was not our first bottle of wine in France

Perhaps this was not our first bottle of wine in France

As a fan of Rhone wines, it was inevitable that we head out and sample some of the region’s wines. In the morning, Ganesan, Catherine, Becky, and myself headed up to one of the more famous wine towns in France, Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  The previous evening we had been hit in Fourques by an intense thunderstorm that cycled the lights on and off in the house during dinner and drenched the surroundings. The day of our visit to Chateauneuf-du-Pape dawned cool with lingering showers. Later in the day, the fierce winds of Le Mistral reappeared, pushing out the rain clouds and giving us a sparkling clear day. There was the distinct feel of the approaching fall in the air.

Service set up for lunch in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Service set up for lunch in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

We arrived in the small village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape under a gentle spray of rain. On the approach to the town, the mostly harvested vineyards were tinged with the yellows and oranges of the changing season. In the town, the tourist traffic was punctuated with small tractors pulling trailers filled with the intense purple grapes from the harvest. Despite the small size of the village and its narrow streets, a surprising amount of the grape crushing and wine production is done in the center of town.

Street scene, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Street scene, Chateauneuf-du-Pape

The village itself is full of tasting rooms. The caves or tasting rooms that offer free degustation or tasting of the wines of the region are most frequently bottom floor or basement room affairs. They reside below the old rock and plaster covered buildings that line the winding streets of the town. There is a high density of tasting rooms, seemingly one room for every 100 feet of village street. All told there are perhaps 20 places to taste wine, all within a short distance of the central town square. Though you can easily walk the town and discover all the caves on your own, there is a convenient map at the tourist office. Find the label of the wine, push the button, and your way to the cave is marked in lights.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape countryside

Chateauneuf-du-Pape countryside

Stained glass in the church

Stained glass in the church

Dan, Barb, Julie, and John arrived in time for lunch. The skies had cleared and we had a pleasant Provencal-style meal sitting outside on the small central plaza of the town watching the grapes roll by.

A post lunch visit to the remains of the chateau left us with the time for a couple of additional tasting room visits. Ganesan was fully engaged in the search, directing us to Paul Atard for our last stop. Here, we tasted the best wines of the visit in a relaxed setting standing around a circular table full of open bottles. We also met the winery dog. The Newfoundland, whose coat was shaved because of her itchy skin, was anything but security for the winery. The dog found a friend with Becky and myself who were

Catherine getting airtime at a wine estate in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Catherine getting airtime at a wine estate in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

missing Nick. I guess we knew how to scratch her itch. As we left the winery, the dog took the lead and headed across the parking lot right to the door of our car, ready to come along. If we weren’t in France, Nick may have ended up with a friend.




  1. I like this places as what i have seen in magazine, i wish i can go there. Ive seen this places in magazine name Goodhousekeeping.

    Comment by Irene Fe Pajota, — July 7, 2011 @ 6:56 am

  2. […] high altar of Rhone wines.  True, there are more attractive wine producing regions in France.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape , St. Emilion, and the villages of the Alsatian wine route are tourist destinations even for those […]

    Pingback by France: Tain L’Hermitage and Vienne « Another Header — November 15, 2012 @ 2:31 am

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