Provence the land of lavender and honey And wine of course! Provence has itsown AOC wine designation and alsocovers part of the the Southern Rhone AOC as well. So your opportunities for tasting are endless, but where to start? Well that can be the confusing part. Do you do a wine tour? Do you just drive up to a winery? How do you manage the tasting? How do you know which are the best? Well a wine tour is a great way to introduce yourself to the region but how to really find those off the beaten path smaller wineries with delicious wines? Well your best bet is to go to a local tourist office and ask for a map of wineries. My preferred method is get a map, pick one winery and set the GPS. En Route I will see several other wineries and scream “degustation (taste) stop!” and order @benton8tor to stop. Side note, this is not @benton8tor’s preferred method. That said, he will be the first to admit that we have discovered some amazing wines this way. Including his all time favourite Provencal rose. So with that, here are my top five recommended stops in Provence.
5. Domaine Le Galantin: Located in the famous Bandol wine region, Domaine Le Galantin is a small tasting room but heavily favoured by locals. Which is always a good sign. We pulled in for a tasting and were warmly greeted by the proprietor. We tasted Cuvee D’Achille white, red and rose. I was a fan of the red. As with many Bandol wines, it was bold with dark fruit overtones and easily drinkable. But the rose, which was @benton8tor’s favourite was delicate, fruity, bright, and refreshing. The tasting room itself was rustic, welcoming and a definite must stop in Provence. Pick up a bottle of your favourite, buy some local cheese,a baguette and some fruit or olives and head for the hills and enjoy a wonderful French picnic. Afterwards head back to Bandol for a dip in the Mediterranean and you will have had the perfect Provencal day. Just remember to stop and smell the lavender. http://www.le-galantin.com/domaine.php
4. Crous St Martin is in the very famous Chateauneuf du Pape of the Southern Rhone. Just 10 minutes North of Avignon, this region produces some of the most interesting, bold yet delicate and complex reds. Crous St Martin was our introduction into Chateauneuf du Pape. It was one of the best introductions, you could ask for with a total of 6 tastings you get to appreciate the full range of their wine. The wine we bought was delicious. This is Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah territory. Our favourite was spicy with hints of tea and tobacco and lingered pleasantly on the palate. Again what you taste is arbitrary. So many of my friends worry that they aen’t tasting the same thing. My advice is do you enjoy it? Good then drink it and taste what you taste. which as my friend Jeff says it is usually red wine he tastes So relax and enjoy and remember that Crous St Martin is a great introduction to Chateauneuf Du Pape. http://crousstmartin.com/history/ .
3. Chateau Calissane- A fabulous Provencal winery near Lancon de Provence. Producing both wine and olive oil for purchase and taste, Chateau Calissane is a delight. A beautiful bright tasting room with local products for sale. However try the wines. These Provencals reds and roses are amazing. Easily drinkable, especially in the hot weather, your only challenge will be how much you can fit in your suitcase. The red was my favourite of course with its light spiced, soft cherry notes. This is an excellent wine to try if you are just starting to drink reds! The olive oil was also amazing and Chateau Calissane is a very worthwhile stop. Prepare to spend about a hour here. The grounds are also beautiful. http://www.calissanne.fr/
2. Domaine de L’Olivette- Another Bandol standout and my one of my favourites. This winery is warm, welcoming and beautiful. The wines are amazing as well and inexpensive. Both red and rose are delicious. the red is bold, fruity with complex undertones. the rose is floral, bright and crisp. Again perfect for a picnic or just because. The tastings are generous and you will be back for more! the white wine is also delicious and a rarity in red dominated Bandol. Again as one of the smaller wineries (small being subjective) it has an some wonderful wines to offer that may otherwise be missed so make sure to stop. http://www.domaine-olivette.com/en/nos-vins
- Chateau De La Nerthe – Located in a stunning setting just outside of the Chateauneuf du Pape village, Chateau De La Nerthe offers beautiful wines in a beautiful tasting room in a beautiful setting. I think you get the picture. Chateau De La Nerthe was picked by my trusty Degustation shouting system. Yes I saw a sign that said Degustation and screamed stop. In this case, we stumbled upon one of the very best places to stop and taste wine. The wines are amazing. Spicy with dark fruit and leather flavours, these wines will make you come back again and again. The proprietor is welcoming and passionate about the wine and very willing to answer any questions you may have about the wine including ” May I try another”. A stop at Chateau De La Nerthe is a guaranteed fabulous tasting experience.
Provence is a fabulous opportunity for drive up or walk up tasting. A drive anywhere off the motorway almost guarantees you multiple signage offering degustations. So take advantage of it, stop and enjoy. After all you are in Provence.