The wines of the Southern Rhone, with their backbone of Syrah and Grenache, have become David’s favorites, displacing all but the very best Burgundies at the top of his list.
On our stays in Provence now we try to make at least one trip to the tiny villages that produce these gems. The best known, and possibly the best, is Chateauneuf du Papes, but the soaring prices for the wines make other wines much better values, and the village’s lack of charm and good dining have lead us to look elsewhere.
David’s two favorites are Vacqueyras and Gigondas, just a short ride up the A7 AutoRoute, past Avignon and just short of the old Roman city of Oranges. While Vacqueyras makes wines that are a bit more to his liking, the somewhat grim village does not exude the charm and appeal of its nearby neighbor, Gigoindas, and the fact that Gigondas burnishes its appeal with two excellent restaurants – Oustalet and les Florets, makes the choice even easier.
So, after dialysis, we headed straight for the Salon entrance ramp to A7 and headed north. Existing the AutoRoute, we wound through sprawling vineyards and small villages and made our way up the slopes to Gigondas. The tiny village clambers up the hillside, its winding streets and square lined with wine shops, cafés, and souvenir shops. The town square has been recently refurbished, turning a parking area into a small park and adding new parking areas just a short walk away. In good weather, the outside tables at the cafés are perfect for a light meal, some wine, or just relaxing.
Just outside the village, up a small valley leading to the Dentelles (hills that resemble lace), is Hotel Les Florets, a small, family-owned hotel that sits just below the granite peaks. David drove up the steep drive to drop me off at the front door, then headed down to the parking lot and walked back up to join me.
We have dined here several times before, and were recognized and welcomed back with a table next to the window, overlooking a tree-shaded patio. We perused the menu while sipping on our kirs. The food here is terrific, and there are a lot of appealing choices. I started with baby langoustines, which were served perched on sushi rolls, and followed with a wonderful roast veal. David started with the poached farm egg, followed by roast bar (bass). As always, the food was wonderful, and the service friendly and professional. David ordered a bottle of our favorite rosé, Domaine Bosquets from Gigondas, one of the best in the region. It paired perfectly with our meals, making for a delightful lunch.
Leaving les Florets, we headed into Gigondas to stroll around a bit, shoot some photos, and buy some wines. Many of the wines of Gigondas (and Vacqueyras) cannot be found 100 km from the villages. Production is small and locally consumed. Our favorite rosé is such a wine, so we had decided to buy a couple of bottles to flesh out the wine supply in the mas. Entering a local Cave that sells over 100 wines from Gigondas, David bought two bottles of Bosquets rosé and a bottle of their red, in hopes that Philippe and Christine would be visiting during the coming week.
Then, it was back into the Audi wheels, and off to our home in the mas.
We decided that we needed to polish off some of the leftovers in the fridge, so Dinner that night was the tagliatelle with my sauce, which David raved about. Then, we checked out the maps to figure out the best route for our planned trip to Aigues Mortes tomorrow.