Le Magnifique Rhone Wine Experience!
Posted on: January 11, 2019, by Jill Murwin
To be honest, I’m a total wine lover. I do love wine – food – travel and anything that includes good taste and beauty. If you’re into similar aspects of life you’d love this wine tour!
La Madelene Rhone Wine Holidays was the absolute highlight of our trip to France. We had an opportunity to chose their “Selected Domaines” Tour which included an overnight stay at La Madelene. Our room was in a 12th-century priory, situated in the foothills of Mt.Ventoux in Provence. La Madelene, or “The Big House”, has been carefully renovated with enormous style, excellent taste and lovingly maintained by our wonderful hosts Jude and Philip.
Our tour started the evening of our arrival with aperitifs on the terrace, a 4-course, fabulous dinner prepared by Jude and fantastic wines chosen by Philip. True to their reputation, Jude cooks and Philip drinks (our encourages you to taste the best of the Rhone!). Philip, shared his knowledge of wines and the Rhone wine region. He also shared its history, geography, wine varieties and appellation ranking system and the wines. In the photo below, Philip is showing us the galets roules or white round stones that absorb the heat of the sun, but reflect the sun off the plants to keep them cool These stones also keep moisture in the soil creating a natural irrigation system.
The next day started with baskets of fresh pastries, fruit, homemade jams, juice, and French-brewed coffee. After the perfect Provencal breakfast, we set out on our wine tour. The first destination was a domaine, located in the hills above Roaix, founded by Jean-Louis Ferran in 1953. The wine maker’s daughter, Madeline Ferran, who told us not to be scared by the creepy name of their wine, “Escaravay” (beetles). This term was also used by village inhabitants as a nickname for the black-robed monks that occupied the area’s Catholic monasteries centuries ago. The beetle wine? Delicious!
Next, we moved to the most famous of all, the southern Rhône appellations and famed, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We visited the ancient estate dating back to 1560 — Chateau La Nerthe, which contains all of the 14 permitted grape varieties of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation – both red and white. Grenache is usually the main grape. White Châteauneuf wine is rare but increasingly good and worth seeking out. To see it is mind blowing.
Cool Fact: Thomas Jefferson’s favorite wine was made at Chateau La Nerthe. He loved it so much he had it sent to the USA in large wooden crates.
After an overview of the stunning chateau, it was time for a delightful lunch at Verger des Papes situated just below the ruin of the Pope’s summer palace.
After lunch, we visited Chateau Mont-Thabor, constructed in the 17th century. Mont-Thabor is very small with about 9 acres of Chateauneuf-du-Pape vines located in the southeast. The charming owner works his tiny plot of land each day and still finds time to help you sample his reds and whites.
The best way to end this fantastic day is to visit Domaine Saint Amant with the highest elevation in the Rhône Valley. The countryside is nothing short of breathtaking with views over the mountains and the valley far below followed by a poolside “apero and nibbles” (Philip’s expression for a glass of bubbly and snacks).
When you stay at Le Madelene, with the terrific combination of Phillip’s incredible knowledge of wine and Jude’s phenomenal cooking, you really feel that you are experiencing what it is like to live in Provence, not just as a tourist.