Tim and I had less than a day to tour the wine region in Provence. We had spent the first part of the day cycling up Mont Ventoux. After the ride we changed into shorts, T-shirts, and tennis shoes, my hair was up in a pony tail and under a visor, so we weren’t really dressed for fancy wine tastings. But that did not take away from the fun.
Our first stop was Domaine du Galinier. We picked this place because we wanted to purchase some Cotes du Ventoux wine to commemorate our cycling experience. This winery sat at the base of Mont Ventoux. A tiny french woman greeted us with lots of smiles. She spoke not a word of English. Somehow we managed to communicate with my basic french and lots of hand gestures. We sampled some of her wine and bought six bottles of her 2005 Rouge.
From Bedoin we drove east to Gigondas through some serious wine country. At the time, it was one of the most beautiful drives we have ever done. Old, gnarly vines were just starting this year’s growth and there seemed to be vines growing on every piece of land available. The vineyards, the hillsides, and the speckling of hillside towns and stone houses created the picture perfect Provençal landscape. We were in heaven.
Gigondas was a tiny town that produces some of the region’s best wines. At the recommendation of the Rick Steves guide book we went to Le Caveau de Gigondas. Here we got to sample some Gigondas wine (there were over 200 wines to choose from).
With our limited knowledge we were not sure how to go about choosing, so Tim picked out wine labels he thought looked the neatest and we picked two favorites from that. We can be so sophisticated!
From Gigondas we drove a half an hour south to Chateauneuf-de-Pape, also known for its great wine. We arrived at Chateauneuf-de-Pape at 6 pm. We went to Cave du Verger des Papes for another wine tasting, and this would be a highlight of our trip.
We entered a real cave decorated with wine bottles and boxes. As we made our way farther in we came to a second room with a bar, the host, and about fifteen Americans. In the next hour we would hear more English than we had all week.
We arrived just in time. They were just starting the “wine lesson.” We learned how to judge color, taste, and smell. The host was very informative and spoke fluent English with a french accent. He also had a great sense of humor.
We sampled two white and three red wines and I could start to smell the oak and taste the nuttiness and all of that mumbo jumbo. I’m still no wine connoisseur but I’m not totally clueless anymore.
He gave us a final test at the end. He gave us a fruity white wine and wanted us to tell him the order of the five fruits in the order we smelled them. We could really smell the apricot and peach and rose and then we all got stumped on the fourth fruit. I called out “mango!” and I was right. Everyone turned around to look at me in surprise. Yes, me. Sweaty, dirty, salty me. I surprised myself and Tim. Tim knew the fifth fruit (pineapple) but never called it out. We bought six bottles of wine and had them shipped back to the states.
Our day of wine tasting and exploring Provence ended back out our hotel in Avignon. It was a fabulous day from start to finish.
About our trip to Provence: Tim and I visited Provence way back in 2009 as part of a 10 day road trip through southern France. This was only our second time in Europe and our first time wine tasting. How we have changed since then! 🙂
Read Next: 10 Day French Riviera and Provence Itinerary
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