David and Jay are big fans of the wines of the Southern Rhone. Probably the best-known of these is Chateauneuf du Pape, an excellent wine, but on the expensive side due to its name recognition. David tends to seek out the equally good wines of the small villages that dot this area, especially Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Seguret. Jay shares this predilection, and based in part on our description of our visit to the tiny village of Gigondas in May, he added a trip to this area to his “must see/do list.”
We headed off to the A7 AutoRoute, picked it up at Cavaillon, and motored north, towards the old Roman city of Orange. Once again, Jay did a great job of following us in traffic, and in due course we were off the A7 headed east towards the Dentelles. As we had already visited Gigondas, and loved the Hotel les Florets there as a place to dine, we decided to make Vacqueyras our first stop, then travel on to Gigondas and les Florets. While Gigondas is a charming, tiny village nestled on a hillside with vistas of vineyards sweeping away below, Vacqueyras turned out to be a bit grim. There was roughly a block of village center, with a few slightly seedy looking cafés and bars, surrounded by a number of large commercial wineries, We were also surprised that most of the tasting rooms were closed. Fortunately, after a brief stroll, we ended up in the tasting room of Arnoux and Fils, a well-respected producer located in Vacqueyras and Gigondas wines.
Jay, David, and Anne tried a number of wines, a white Vacqueyras, a rosé, and three reds. All were excellent, and Jay was pleased to find that all of them ran between 11 and 14 Euros a bottle. A comparable CDP would run several times that and offer little, if any, improvement in quality. The gentleman who ran the tasting room was charming and helpful. Between his English and David’s French they were able to get by without any problems. Jay bought a couple of bottles of rosé, and one of the Classic red, and we headed back to the car and on to Gigondas. The outskirts of Vacqueyras, in contrast to the village center, looked upscale and pleasant, giving way to rolling slopes of vines.
We approached the tiny village of Gigondas and found it busier than our last visit. We strolled around for a bit, then decided to head to les Florets for lunch before venturing in to the tasting rooms. The five-minute drive to les Florets winds through a valley lined with vineyards and forests. Just below the slopes of the Dentelles, a steep driveway heads off to the left, clambering up a hillside to a tree-shaded parking area. Knowing that parking was at a premium here, we opted to go in one car, and found this to be a wise move, as only one small spot was open.
We asked the friendly head waiter at les Florets if they had a table (sans reservations) for four, and he lead us into the airy dining room and seated us. The menu was appealing, just as it was the last time we dined here in May, and the wine list a huge treasure of the best from the local villages. David suggested that we have the Domaine Bosquet rosé, which we had enjoyed previously, and – after our kirs and an amuse bouche – we were treated to the excellent cuisine that les Florets is famous for. The service was friendly and efficient, and every dish delicious. The wine was superb, with all agreeing it was the best rosé we had sampled to date.
After a marvelous lunch we headed back to Gigondas and one of the tasting rooms in the tiny town square. They offered more than 100 wines, all available to taste. David, Anne, and Jay tried a couple, including the Domaine Bosquet we had at lunch. It proved to be the best of the lot, and soon we were back in the cars, winding back to the A7 and points south with a bottle in Jay’s car. We exited the A7 at Cavaillon, and headed back to the mas. Jay and Anne decided to peel off for a short visit to St. Remy, promising to meet up with us at Café du Centre later.
A little after 6pm, we headed into town to find Anne and Jay seated at Café du Centre, enjoying a glass of wine. We joined them and enjoyed an hour or so people watching and just chilling out. David picked up a couple of baguettes to make sandwiches for dinner, then it was back to the mas to enjoy jambon and Emmenthaller sandwiches and some time outside under the trees before turning in.