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Wines from Provence?

Hey Guys,
My wife and I are going to Provence for a few days this summer. We love tasting great wines and visiting vineyards when we can. We know very little about the wines of Provence so we'd love to hear some recs. What should we try to taste? Any places we should definitely visit? Also, any vineyards with an inn or room to rent would be great. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. Dunno how far you are willing to drive, or where in Provence you are staying, but when I was in Nimes (or Avignon, I forget which) I spent a day in Chateauneuf du Pape. It really wasn't that far.

    1 Reply
    1. re: whiner

      Whiner, you advice is always so good. While in Chateauneuf du Pape last December, my wife was taking my picture on the steps up to the ruins and a stranger came up from out of the blue to put a glass in my hand. He poured my glass full of CdP for the picture and my tasting pleasure. It appeared that there might be more than 20 caves (tasting rooms) in town, all with free tastings. When I return, I'm staying at a hotel in town so I won't have to drive. There are good restaurants there too.

    2. The roses and the reds from Bandol are what stand out in the Provence region. A trip to CdP as mentioned is an excellent idea as well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: vinosnob

        Bandol for value. Rasteau, Gigondas and CNP for Southern Rhone reds!

      2. Whew--for a few days this can be a huge territory, from traditional AOC areas of Cotes de Provence, etc, as far as the Mediterranean coast north to Cotes du Rhone (Villages), east to Mt Ventoux and even Nice and west to Nimes and Avignon. To others' recommendations, Cassis east of Marseille for its lovely harbor and minerally white wines, Nimes itself, Nyons to the northeast, a great small market town close to many CdR villages. Val Joanis in Pertuis is usually good. I'd google regional travel sites, starting with Cotes de Provence tourism--haven't got a link here, but wine itineraries should be well developed on these sites. Sante.

        1. I don't know if they have tours, but if you can manage to visit Domaine Tempier I'd certainly recommend it as they make some fantastic (if expensive) Bandols.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dinwiddie

            I can fully second Tempier. Their rose is superb, the reds are stunning. In Provence for rose Ch. les Crostes is nice as well, whites and rose.

          2. You've got to visit the Commanderie de Peyrassol - winery founded by the Knights Templar in the early 1200s. Their Rose's are life-changing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: orlwine

              Thank you to everyone so far! We're getting more and more excited! We know far more about Spanish and Italian wines so it's really helpful to have your help on this trip. Keep the suggestions coming!

            2. Provence is known for rose wine and you couldn't go wrong with Tavel. However, what we found in France earlier this year is that you can purchase a range of good wines that you can't get in the U.S. at very affordable prices. (Even the house wines were good.) My husband and I had different approaches to buying . His was to go into a wine store and ask for recommendations. Mine was to go into a Monoprix (a super market) and choose by price, year and applelation controlee, for example, a 2005 Morgon for under 8 euros. The results were excellent as we had a wide range of different types of wine, many of which are only sold locally because of the limited number of bottles available.

              1 Reply
              1. re: honu2

                Is a cooperative in Tavel that sells almost all the wineries output, Have 20-40 vineyards and as you said is a wonderful rose that last a long time

              2. We have a home in the Cote Du Rhone and live there part of the year. In addition to the recommendations already made which are very good, I would add the wines of Vacqueyras and Cairanne are right up there with Gigondas. Also if you are in the Alpilles near Les Baux, the winery of Mas de Gourgonnier in Mouries is worth a visit; very good wines, beautiful location. The family also own land in the Camargue where they grow organic red rice which they sell at the winery. The near by town of Mausanne produces the best olive oil in Provence in my opinion.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Pammel

                  If you go to Chateauneuf-du-Pape, there is a Tourist Office in the heart of town which will provide you with a map of just about every wine grower in the town and you can try both whites and reds as you wish. There is also a fine chocolate factory at the entrance to the town and they will provide wine pairings with different chocolates. Good restaurant at the top of the hill where the old chateau is: Verger des Papes.
                  Also in this general area is Baumes-de-Venise which has a specialty of Muscat de Baumes de Venise. The town is small and relatvely quiet with a shaded parking lot in the center of town. At the main square are 2 stores almost side by side which will allow you to taste the various muscats prodiced in the town (different labels go better with different foods - some pair well with chocolate, other go best with foie gras). In this region, you are not far from Vauqueyras and Gigondas vineyards and there are a few large stores which offer these for sale along the main road.

                  1. re: CJT

                    If you go to Beaumes-de-Venise, look for signs to Domaine Durban. A very good winery which produces the Muscat plus they own vineyards in Gigondas which are sold at the winery. The best thing about the winery is that it may be one of the prettiest locations in Cote du Rhone. Also in response to original question, Domaine Cabasse is a winery in Seguret, not too far from Gigondas, Cairanne, Rasteau and next door to Sablet where we live. Domaine Cabasse has a restaurant and rooms.

                    1. re: Pammel

                      I do love the Roses of Cote de Provence - hard to beat on a nice warm day. There are some fine estates between Avignon and the Riviera, but really the best area for wine touring centers around Chateauneuf du Pape (Grenache-dominant Rhone blends). I recommend the restaurant just below the castle (top of town). There are Roman-era winery ruins in the town. Beaucastel is a MUST visit. In addition to CdP, Gigondas (very cute town) and Beaumes de Venise are other key wine regions in the area. Avignon is a great base to experience Rhone Valley wine country, but I would avoid the place in August (droves of people!!!!). We have a good wine guide we use there.

                      1. re: turlendu

                        In reference to the posts just above this one: Domaine Durban is worth a visit and they will let you sample their wines. What you buy there will be less expensive than what you would pay in the stores in the town. Durban's muscat de Beaumes de Venise is best paried with foie gras, but is wonderful with other foods as well. Follow the signs from the town to reach Durban, but keep in mind it is on a hill and the road is not extremely wide nor paved. But worth the visit!

                        As for the mention of the restaurant in Chateauneuf du Pape just below the castle, that is Verger des Papes. You park your car at the old castle ruis and walk a very short distance down the hill to find the restaurant. try to get a table at the wall and you will have a beautiful view of the Rhone and of Avignon in the distance.

                        1. re: CJT

                          surprised by Bandol rec's not that the wines aren't good, but a little esoteric and not especially close.

                          depending on where you are... chateauneuf is great, spend a few days there last week. try Pierre usseglio and Clos du Caillou and Domaine Janasse... stunning wines, as good as it gets, and they're free, no appointment needed - you just walk in. very happy smiley people too.

                          a nice little day trip might be to cassis, where they have some interesting whites & rose's but also dramatic coast line.

                          Tavel is tiny, and hardly worth the trip on its own... but if you have the time, it is enjoyable. make sure you visit Domaine Mordoree.

                          but all through there are littered little places... go deeper into the vaucluse and you'll find lots of small producers showing off what they do.

                          Vergers du pape is a great place to dine, and if you go below the Caves du Vergers has a great list of wines, and does tastings too. Mere Germain is good too, and on friday nights have just started having wine maker nights with a featured vigneron showing their wines on tasting, with cheap prices if you drink their particular wines in the restaurant.

                          La Nerthe & Mont Redon are also good CNDP destinations... quite pretty.

                        2. re: turlendu

                          ...and if you get as far East as Nice, be sure to have white Bellet with your Bourride. It is a Nicoise wine that rarely travels far from that town, but it does go perfectly with the fish dishes of Nice. ;)

                          Imho, Bandol is definitely worth the trip!

                  2. I'm loving this post! My husband and I will be renting a home in Venasque for a week in September and these recommendations are wonderful. The only unknown is how the harvest season might affect our chances of visiting some of the wineries.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: CindyJ

                      be sure to call before you go to any of them. (You wouldn't walk into someone's home without an invitation or an appointment, and many of the small winemakers are their whole "staff!"

                        1. re: ChefJune

                          I think this is potentially bad advice.

                          mainly because unless you have a serious interest, you may not want to be going to places that require an appointment.

                          not that making an appointment is a bad idea per se, but if they are just after a fun, educational visit or 2 in the region then you would be better off focussing on those places that are generally open to the public and *do* welcome people off the street.

                          Incidentally on another note, using avignon as the centre Chateauneuf is 10 miles away, and Bandol 100 miles away. So i think that should be a consideration too.

                          Ps. I used work for a specialist importer of Bandol wines, I have nothing against them, it just wouldn't be my tip for a general visit.
                          if anyone does find themselves in Bandol. I'd recommend the following producers, although I'm not sure of their visitors policy:
                          - Tempier
                          - gros nore
                          - lafran veyrolle
                          - begude
                          - pibarnon
                          - La Suffrene

                          I'm sure I've forgotten a couple.

                          1. re: batfink23

                            <I think this is potentially bad advice.> In other words, you think OP can't decide for themselves what they want to do?

                            If I had been the OP, I'd be thrilled with the variety of suggestions, and sure I could select what I really wanted to do from the list...

                            Yes, Bandol is off the "beaten Provencal path," but the wines are delicious and not all that easy to find in US. Imho, worth a visit, maybe not a special trip.

                            1. re: ChefJune

                              No I am suggesting that calling it "bad form" not to make an appointment is potentially misleading for people who are not sure what they are looking for - as this has implications for type of place.

                              we've already had people on here, who are not the OP, talk about using this advice.

                              there are places that require appointments, and that usually accords a certain type of visit; and there are places that do not require such things.

                              I always make appointments where necessary, and drop in where not. the context is useful as a separator.

                              the last thing someone wants is to make an apppointment to visit a small producer, who requires appointments, to be faced with the very, very common question: so what do you like about my wines?

                              the people who require appointments generally (though not always) do not want visits from people who are not familiar/customers of their wines. those who are welcoming of passers by, have signs out on the street and open cellars. I have recommended some of these in this thread - a couple of which makes wines as good as money can buy. i.e. Janasse/Usseglio/Mordoree.

                              bottom line, I don't think you should be making appointments to see growers you are unfamiliar with (and do not ordinarily welcome people off the street) as it could lead to a certain awkwardness, when there are people very happy and willing to see you. that's all.

                              the OP seems more experienced and I'm sure can make their decisions accordingly, but not everyone requires appointments and it is not bad form to call in on those who do not. not to mention the correlation between english skills of those who have signs out front, versus those who do not.

                              If someone were near Bandol, I agree it is a nice region. and perhaps might make sense to visit before flying out of Marseilles?

                              1. re: batfink23

                                Why make this complicated? I posted on Chateauneuf du Pape, Beaumes de Venise, and Vacqueyras and can assure all that we never had to make an appointment to sample or buy wines. This included 3 stops in CNDP, 2 in Beaumes, and 2 in Vacqueyras/Gigondas. Note in my previous post a reference to the Tourist Office in CNDP, where they offer a complete map of growers' locations and can make suggestions for walk-in visits.

                                1. re: CJT

                                  umm... did you reply to the wrong person, or not read correctly what was written?

                                  I am the one arguing against places that require an appointments, in favour of places that you can walk into...

                                  1. re: batfink23

                                    Just replying to yours AND hers -- supporting your position, not hers

                        2. re: CindyJ

                          Make sure you try Les Remparts restaurant in Venasque; although there is not much else in town so I am quite sure you will without my suggestion. Beautiful views of the valley, very good food and service at reasonable price. Very unusual in my experience, is they offer a vegetarian menu in addition to the other daily menus. Although I am not a vegetarian, I had to try it as they had such wonderful items on that menu.

                        3. Came across a very tasty Rose last night.

                          Domaine Fontvert 2008; Cotes du Luberon its near Lourmarin, not so far from Aix.

                          anyway, slightly tart strawberry accent with a little peach skin. lovely.

                          they speak english, have an open tasting/cellar door.


                          1. Again, if you find yourself near Bandol, Domaine de Terrebrune is lovely--they have a small restaurant open for lunch and dinner--food was exceptional, as were the wines. It is off the beaten path and a little difficult to find but I believe it was well worth the trip--a lovely tasting and tour that ended with a wonderful meal.

                            16 Replies
                            1. re: JeremyEG

                              Bastide la Princes in Caderousse is 10 minutes from CNDP as is lovely. Pierre Paumel used run the La Sommeliere restaurant in CNDP, and now runs this hotel with 5 course Table D'Hote on Friday/saturday nights. or on request.

                              effectively he now runs his restaurant in accordance with his retirement plans - i.e. not every night. you will eat very well if you choose.

                              Vergers de Pape is a must for lunch or early dinner.

                              Mere Germain has a great wine list, as is based in the centre of the village.
                              La Beaugraviere is also just 25 minutes drive up the RN7.

                              1. re: batfink23

                                Thank you! These places all look great but are booked. How is La sommellerie (hotel and restaurant). They have a room available but I might need to book it asap!
                                Thanks again everyone.

                                1. re: JeremyEG

                                  Seems rather pricey to me for rooms and dinner for 2 - in the 200Euros per person per night range with dinner, but don't know what you are looking for. Lots of places in that area which are less expensive without meal. If you are looking for a restaurant and a place to stay, there might be locations where the combination would be less costly and the food better.

                                  1. re: JeremyEG

                                    La Bastide des Princes booked out?

                                    La Sommellerie is very nice, but that seems disproportionately expensive.

                                    1. re: batfink23

                                      Yes, La Bastide is booked. I agree about La Sommellierie being expensive. Should we stay an additional night in Gigondas (we have a nice room there that can be extended) and come into CDP for a great dinner? Can we order CDP (the wine) in Gigondas or is there intense wine pride town by town as we often see in other parts of Europe? Maybe we should stay in Gigondas for 2 nights and come into CDP for dinner at Vergers de Pape?
                                      Thanks again! We're so excited to hit the road!

                                      1. re: JeremyEG

                                        Just so you don't get lost, the correct name of this restaurant in CNDP is LE VERGER DES PAPES. Go on a sunny day and the view at lunch or dinner will enhance your meal.

                                        Website (in French) is www.vergerdespapes.com For pictures that include the view, go to http://www.rhonewineholidays.com/blog...

                                        1. re: CJT


                                          there are only about 3 restaurants in CNDP, and even the blind dog on the roadside knows Vergers.

                                          1. re: batfink23

                                            You've got the same problem the other poster did: it is not "VERGERS de PAPE" as you said in your July 1 post and as you write here today. Correct names help people avoid mistakes. If you were in Paris looking for Fauchon but spelling it Faucon, you'd have a devil of a time finding the store. The blind dog I spoke to told me there are about 10 restos in CNDP, so I checked the internet and he was right. Pretty smart dog!

                                            1. re: CJT

                                              I find all the hub bub about Le Verger des Papes all quite amusing because as a home owner and frequent visitor to the Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I don't think the restaurant is very good...unfortunately. You are better off to go to La Mere Germaine and unfortunately that is not great either. There are many wonderful restaurants in the Northern Vaucluse and Cote du Rhone, unfortunately Chateauneuf-du-Pape is not so blessed. They do have fabulous wines.

                                              1. re: Pammel

                                                fair enough, neither are great gastronomique restaurants.

                                                however, the view at Verger/s ;o) is particularly noteworthy and with the truly great wine list it is a definitely a destination if you are in the village.

                                                Mere Germaine is not as good in my experience, though still acceptable. I find clearly better ingredients and more interesting technique at verger.

                                              2. re: CJT

                                                I am not sure what you think this look-at-me pedantry achieves.

                                                in the village itself, and in your world of google searches, "verger" and "vergers" returns the same result.

                                          2. re: JeremyEG

                                            There are a number very good wineries in Gigondas who produce CDP wines and vice versa. The wine's appellation is determined based upon the source of the grapes and vineyards and blends of varietals not location of the winery. I should also mention there is a very very good restaurant in Gigondas called Les Florets. Great food, wine and service and located with great views making it a very good choice for lunch. I personally believe this restaurant is better than any of the CDP restaurants. Unfortunately, L'Oustalet which is also located in Gigondas has recently changed owners and not very good right now imo. Hopefully, it will bounce back as it is located right in the main town square with very nice terrace and dining room.

                                            1. re: Pammel

                                              Perfect. Thank you. Are there any markets in either town where we might be able to buy food to eat at home? Sometimes we love having a huge lunch and then having something lighter for dinner, especially if the views are better at lunch.

                                              1. re: JeremyEG

                                                There are two very good markets in the region which are well worth visits to in any case if you are in the area on the right days. On Tuesday mornings in Vaison la Romaine, there is a wonderful market with up to 650 vendors that spread throughout the streets of the town selling wonderful produce, breads, meats, seafood, charcuterie, flowers, olive oils, artisan products, etc. There is also clothes and household items sold too. There is a similar but not quite as nice market imo on Friday mornings in Carpentras. FYI from November to March, there is a truffle market on Friday mornings in Carpentras.

                                                1. re: Pammel

                                                  I also meant to mention that some of the tourist offices located in center of towns including Gigondas and neighboring village of Sablet where we have a home offer free tastings of almost 100% of the wines produced. In Gigondas, there are probably close to 100 different Gigondas wines offered. If you are not aware, Gigondas as opposed to most of the other Cote du Rhone appellations is a red wine only appellation. As mentioned in other posts, I do not recommend the cooperatives as they generally do not offer very good wines. In Gigondas, make sure you stop into visit and taste at Domaine La Boussiere. They are located just a few steps from the center of the village. No appointment is needed. The 2007's reds from the Cote du Rhone are just being released and it is a great vintage. Tasted quite a few before they were released when we were there in April. I will definitely be buying when we return in two weeks. For those who follow the recommendations of Robert Parker, he says he has been tasting in the Cote du Rhone for 30 years and the 2007 vintage is the best he has ever tasted.

                                                  1. re: Pammel

                                                    speaking of Vaison, Moulin de Huile is one of my favourite restaurants in the region. high class gastronomy.

                                                    I've not checked the spelling though, mea culpa. lol