David’s command of French waxes and wanes. He has the occasional day when he is comfortable and fluent, and then there are days when it seems to him that everyone is speaking in tongues. Today was both. He handled all of our conversations with folks well, but made the mistake of saying that the Dentelles, where we were headed today to see the sights and Gigondas, the village where one of his favorite wines comes from, meant “the teeth,” as the rocky peaks do resemble a set of poorly made dentures. Imagine his embarrassment when I read from the Eyewitness Guide that Dentelles means “lace.”
Regardless, we didn’t let this lapse in language skills affect our day. At a bit after 11 we hopped in the car, fired up le GPS, and roared off to the north to find Gigondas. Based on basic knowledge of where we were going, we felt that Millicent, our Brit GPS voice, would direct us to Cavaillon to pick up the A7 AutoRoute, then north to Orange, then east to the teeth, oops — lace. However, as we checked off the “Fast” box on the screen, we thought she had found a faster route when she directed us north through Molleges and onto a successively smaller series of roads. While I glanced nervously at the shoulders and ditches just inches from both sides of our car, David blissfully drove on, mumbling something about dentures.
Finally, we hooked up with D7, a major route we knew would take us to Avignon. Sure enough, it did, and then we were on the A7 north. Aside from that lapse, Millicent was pretty good, and, in less than an hour had us entering the tiny village of Gigondas, set on the slopes of the Dentelles.
Gigondas is a minuscule village of narrow, winding streets clambering up the steep hills. The slopes below, and plains stretching away, are carpeted with the vines that produce the wines that bear the village’s name. The one-way main street with square at one end is crammed with restaurants and wine caves where Gigondas wines can be tasted and purchased. While David babbles on in wine-speak about the warm, approachable wines with smooth fruit and nuances of leather…I prefer to simply say that the wines are marvelous.
After strolling around a bit and taking photos, we decided to head to Les Florets, the hotel and restaurant just a short drive away higher in the Dentelles (maybe the incisors? molars?) A five-minute drive through the small valleys that wind their way higher into the mountains brings you to a narrow, steep driveway that leads up to a charming set of buildings set in the hillside, with terraced gardens looking out onto vines, forests, and rugged peaks.
Inside we found a warm welcome and spacious and airy dining room. The usual kirs found their way to our table while we looked at the menu and David perused the impressive wine list, dominated by wines from Gigondas and nearby Vacqueyras. The meal started with a delightful amusée bouche, a small puff pastry filled with brandade – flaked cod with seasonings. David and I both followed with a novel take on Carpaccio, thin slices of beef rolled into a log stuffed with herbs and goat cheese. I’m not a goat cheese fan, but David thought it was terrific. We made a note to try this at home with cream cheese and sundried tomatoes. For our plat, we both went with lieu (Pollack) which was done perfectly and beautifully presented. The wine that David picked out was superb. I stuffed a napkin in his mouth so I didn’t have to hear all his wine speak, and enjoyed the Domaine Bosquet rosé from Gigondas. It was without doubt the best rosé we’ve had to date, with the added bonus that it was very reasonable. Unfortunately, few rosés are produced in Gigondas, and this particular wine isn’t exported to the U.S.
We relaxed with our café noir and a few treats – nougat and pastries – then bade farewell to the delightful staff, took a few photos from the terrace, and retraced our steps down the winding road toward A7 and the route home.
A wonderful day – great weather, scenery, food, and wine. We made our usual end of day trek to town to get some Badoit and Vittel, but the alimentation was closed, so David grabbed a baguette and I got a table and carafe of wine for us at Café du Centre.
Then it was home, a light snack, and to bed.