Friday, July 13, 2012

Cotes du Rhone Wine Road

Buis-les-Baronnies, best market award - helped along
by the fact that our hotel is in one of those buildings on the right.
Picnic cherries
We spent our final day in France first at the fabulous, weekly market right outside our hotel room door - who would have guessed that our tiny, little village home base would have such a nice market. And like many small towns, it's quirky citizens were easy to spot. One night while eating, a bearded man galloped into town on his horse, followed by a pack of dogs. We saw his dogs again, but missed another episode of horse play. The market in Buis-les-Baronnies netted us a few gifts, both for others and ourselves, and following yet another picnic lunch by yet another river, we spent our final afternoon visiting wineries, ala the Rick Steves guidebook for driving the Cotes du Rhone Wine Road. Nathan and I had a bit of a miscommunication in wine buying expectation - I thought we'd pick up a few bottles, while Nathan planned to pick up a few cases. With a total of five vineyards and/or cave(s) (pronounced kah-vay) visited, Nathan's plan took over the entire back end of our station wagon. Our cantina is now well stocked!
Our driving tour views
A favorite stop was our final one, which we reached just at 5pm - Domaine du Marchon. With a plan to do a quick tasting, then return to the local village of Seguret for dinner, we walked into the tasting room and were greeted with, "Are you here for the tour?" Ummmm...yes? Turns out that Wednesdays at 5pm is the tour (in English - owners are Scottish) of the vineyard. We tramped up to the vineyard and learned about the soil of the region and the classification of Provencal wines - this is just what Nathan was wanting as he'd commented on the afternoon drive that he'd like to begin learning more about French wines.  We headed back into the winery to learn about the production side of things, and then on to the tasting room. I can't tell you much about French wine as I was paying only marginal attention. I was very distracted by our other tour group members, one a set of eight or so young people (college age). I won't go into detail as it would be rude - oh, okay, it's because it was the most unattractive group of people I've seen in a long time. I mean really, really unattractive - distractingly unattractive. And one girl had selected as her outfit a completely see-through top over her black bra, so I spent a lot of time pondering today's fashion and considering just how out of touch I must be. Then there was another guy, American, who seemed to know everything about French wine and kept handing out brochures for a gorgeous hotel. Nathan talked to him following the tasting and we found that he'd recently purchased said hotel and was at the vineyard to stock his restaurant. Anyone would have been distracted by all these interesting people, except Nathan, who was focused on actually learning about wine. Domaine du Marchon provided, by far, the most comprehensive tour and tasting we've ever attended, and it was one of the most enjoyable. Our final day in Provence was the perfect end to our exploration of the region. We saw beaches, mountains, markets, old towns, new towns, ruins, wineries, and took full advantage of our love for the French cuisine...which meant we had to plan on hiking off all the extra calories at our next destination, the Swiss Alps.

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