Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wine Tasting in Ardeche

Despite the fact that I've gone wine tasting on many occasions in California, I've never done that in France *gasp*. It's not like we don't drink any wine. In fact you should see me when I do my runs to the recycling bin - the number of bottles is staggering.

I buy most of our wines from the supermarket - there is always a wide selection, more convenient & it's probably cheaper too. Nonetheless I wanted to see what the vineyards are like around here & to try something different. So needless to say I was delighted when my friends suggested going wine tasting one day.

We went to the tourism office the day before, carefully planned our route, mapped out the area we wanted to go to, selected the producers we wanted to try & checked their opening hours. We also packed a picnic basket (yup once again) knowing that we were going to be on the road the whole day & had a backup driver ready.

First stop on our route of Cotes du Vivarais was Domaine du Belvezet @ St Remeze. The red wines of AOC Cotes du Vivarais comprised mainly of Syrah & Grenache whereas Vin de pays des coteaux de l'Ardeche (which makes up of 70% of the wine production) could also be Cabernet Sauvignan, Merlot, Gamay, Pinot & Chatus.

S-P with Mr Brunel

Wines are stored in tanks
& can be purchased by the litres

We particularly like their Cote du Vivarais Blanc & bought a case each.

Rene Brunel
Domaine du Belvezet
Rte de Vallon Pt d'Arc - Patroux
07700 Saint Remeze

Second stop (which I didn't take any pictures of) was at Domaine de la Boisserelle. My friends bought a bottle of Creme de chataigne (sort of chestnut liquer except in this case it contains no alcohol) which could be added with white wine to make a chestnut aperitif. I like the idea of it but it was a little too sweet for me tho.

Richard & Isabel Vigne
Domaine de la Boisserelle
Rte des Gorges
07700 Saint Remeze

Next stop was the charming village of Valvigneres. As we drove there, we passed many vineyards, lavander fields & farms. GAEC du Mazel has a tasting room right in the centre of the village. They pride themselves in making les vins naturels.

He definitely had the tasting room with the most character
Love the old wine press that apparently was in use until 5 years ago

I really like what he has to offer - the wines were original & nothing like what we had tasted earlier. They were also more expensive but I bought a few bottles & would definitely stock up more if X likes them too.

Jocelyne & Gerald Oustric
GAEC du Mazel
Quartier le Village
07400 Valvigneres

Our last stop was to one of the largest wine maker in the region - Mas d'Intras. It was the first Ardeche wine that I tasted when I first moved here so it was for sentimental reasons that I wanted to visit the vineyard.

I still like very much their wines & just last night, I opened a bottle of their Grenache, slightly chilled, it went well with my bak kut teh. I'm sure it's not a pairing the winemaker had in mind but it worked.

Denis & Emmanuel Robert & Sebastian Pradal
GAEC du Mas d'Intras
07400 Valvigneres

I wonder when we're heading to Champagne next.


Tsu Lin + + said...

ROFL : Red wine with Bak Kut Teh! Hahaha... I'm sure they didn't have that in mind! (But it really turned out well. I must try that too :))

petite fleur said...

You should.....but then again, I have wine with everything.

Beau Lotus said...

We almost never buy wine from the supermarket. Almost all our wines came from the vineyards themselves be they in Alsace, Bourgogne or the Loire Valley. The Bordeaux I used to order from the French online cellars like Chateauonline etc. Must say that we're starting to run short now that we're living in Italy especially as they're not too good at making white wines. On our way back from Paris last month, we stopped at Bourgogne and grabbed a few cases of the wines there even though we had almost no space left in the boot!

You're right though that some of the wines could be cheaper in the supermarket, only that we like to keep ours for a while and what we enjoy about buying from the vineyards is of course the wine tasting :-). My FIL used to bring along his own picnic when he went round tasting wine, it's all part of the fun!

petite fleur said...

Our cave/cellar is not ready yet. All our better wines are stored at his parents so paiseh to keep more there. For the moment, I only buy wines for drinking & not keeping yet.

But after this, I think I'll be doing more wine tasting to find out more about the local wines. Ardeche is not known for their wines but there are some pretty decent ones around.

Beau Lotus said...

This sounds really exciting, building your own cellar!

We have half of our wine at his mother's place too and the other half they're with us in an electric winer cellar...

Actually I fear that our wines wouldn't keep well as we move too much. I was told that good wine should stay put and not suffer different temperatures if you want it to age properly. Too bad for us...