Traveling further south to the Provence on a hot day on the famous N7 we of course had to briefly stop at Montélimar, home of the famous white nougat. We visited Arnaud Soubeyran’s factory producing nougat since 1837. There is a neat museum of Montélimar’s nougat history integrated in the factory and the nougat is awesome, definitively worth a visit.
In the town of Vaison-la-Romaine we had a B&B for two nights with a lovely host and excellent breakfast. And a swimming pool. Not having looked up too much about this town we were very positively surprised. No restaurant jumped in our face (food & wine somehow come mostly first) but the very present Roman and medieval history made it really pleasant walking around. The “lower city” was neat already but passing the Roman bridge from the 1st century AD (!) looking (and walking) up to the “upper city” is rather spectacular. With narrow passages, archways, fountains, walls – this picture might give you an idea:
And there was a huge market the day we left offering plenty of food. Not all as artisan as it looked or was made looking but good stuff on many tables. I got us sausages for a couple of months …
And then – following the introduction – we had a great wine experience. At the RAW winefair in London we visited a couple of weeks ago one of the many wines we tasted was from the Domain Rouge Bleu (getting the title of this post now?). Being close by I dropped them an email and asked if we could swing by. I got a quick response and so we went visiting the first winery of our trip. In the middle of the Côtes du Rhône countryside Google Maps directed us reliably to the home of Caroline and Thomas.
What a beautiful place. Should you ever be traveling in that region make a note that they are offering a little B&B (which I was not aware of). In the middle of the vineyards with a pool and underneath the shadow of old trees. I assume one can have a good time there!
So Caroline welcomed us and guided us directly to the little building containing their big concrete vessels. Which you need in this area as there are no deep cool cellars. So to keep the liquid chilled concrete (a foot thick) is an ideal material. We chatted a bit till Thomas arrived from his second job at a Chateauneuf-du-Pape winery and were invited to sit in their beautiful living room with big windows offering a wide view over the vineyards and the mountains in the background. That’s a place to have a glass. Or a couple of. We got to taste the Dentelle Rosé first while getting a lot of background information from Thomas about vineyards and vinification. With max. 12 mg/l SO2 Caroline (she actually is the winemaker) gets some of their wines down to 3ppm and so close to zero and to the ideal of a natural wine. We haven’t had a lot of (good) Rosé in our lives and so this was a first very positive surprise. None of the chewing gummy, super strawberry, in-your-face-fruity aromas. As the pale color was promising the fruit (I remember some raspberries) didn’t sit like Jabba on the tongue. It was a very elegant and subtle fruit dancing around a crisp acidity with some nutty taints. Nice.
We also got the Dentelle Red (named after mountains in the background, the Dentelles de Montmirail) and the Mistral Red to taste which were both wonderfully balanced, not too heavy, the Mistral a little more complex. It was a pleasure talking about winemaking and pestering our hosts with our questions about their vineyards and winemaking techniques. I read so much about concrete tanks e.g. without fully understanding what they are good for. Well, if you don’t have a cellar but need constant cool temperature for fermentation and aging a thick concrete wall is clearly more helpful than a steel tank. Plus it’s still somewhat porous – a classical advantage of using oak barrels. Got it.
While we were getting some bottles in our trunk Caroline and Thomas pulled a sample of their flagship wine, the Lunatique. Not ready to be bottled yet we got a glimpse of the intensity this wine will have in a few months or years time. Super dark, with plums, cinnamon and hazelnut, thick but well balanced and not a jam bomb. At all. We got a bottle of the previous vintage and it will go to our private cellar and opened for a special occasion.
As we were leaving the winery cat was climbing up the vines where we made the picture below. Thanks for your time Caroline and Thomas, best of luck and we hope we’ll see you again!
Ok so this was untopable but we went to another place to have some food and get some wine before we left the region. Another wine fair contact but this time from the Real Wine Fair: La Roche Buissiere. It’s based in a little village called Faucon. Combined with a little restaurant and a shop it’s bigger but still a village winery with over 30 years experience in organic farming. Sulphur is added at bottling for some wines and then up to 15 mg/l max. No filtering or fining and of course indigenous yeasts only. We had lunch there and didn’t get disappointed (as I’m always thinking: if one makes the right wine he can’t make bad food).
Sadly it was too busy to get a chance for a chat so we grabbed a bottle of their home made olive oil and a few bottles of wine before we hit the road again driving to Languedoc.