Saturday, April 25, 2009

Châteuneuf-du-Pape: Thursday 23rd April 2009

We headed to Châteauneuf-du-Pape (35 km away) via the smaller roads and came across the town of St-Laurent-des-Arbes, which is in the middle of the Lirac vineyard area. The man in the information office was the most helpful person we have come across all trip. He gave us maps and suggestions, both for the town and the larger area and you just couldn’t fault him.

The town itself was medieval and had towers and a fortified church. The streets were still occupied and had a positive feel.

We stopped at the local bakery for a coffee and Andrew’s Pain au Chocolat was the best he has had all trip. Fresh, flaky and with chocolate (appropriate amount - AJ).

We headed on to our destination of Châteauneuf-du-Pape where we dropped the car and wandered. We walked up to the ruined castle which gave good views of the vineyards below – but the wind was incessant driving us back down into the shelter of the town.

A few wines were tasted and a few more bottles purchased, including a delightful half bottle of *white* Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We had this with our baguette picnic lunch by the banks of the River Rhône.

The vineyards that produce the wonderful rich red wines are alluvial and rocks and pebbles retain the heat in the soil. The Mistral wind which we were complaining about clears the clouds away and allows the sun to the hit the grapes. The area is one of the most prosperous in France and the vines are immaculate and every square permitted inch of land is covered.

This evening the deep red wine was a perfect accompaniment for the divine Duck sausages and Toulouse sausages we procured for our dinner. The sun is still beating down at 7pm and we hope the Mistral, which is supposed to blow in groups of three days, will be gone tomorrow.

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