Rhone Road Trip

Written By

November 24th 2009

In order to have the samples for our Rhone Tasting in the best possible condition, we sent our latest recruit, Harry Scott-Dempster, off in a Transit van to collect the bottles. Heavy driving, but with the odd winery visit and dinner. Nice work…

“We set off for Folkestone and the Eurotunnel on a very drab armistice day on route to our first stop off, in Reims. Having had a distinctly average service-station sandwich for dinner we finally arrived at our hotel in the heart of Reims.

Louis Roederer's Entrance Hall
Louis Roederer’s Entrance Hall

The following morning we were given a look round the Louis Roderer Empire. A highly informative tour and video were rounded off with a bottle of 2003 vintage Roderer, not a bad way to start the day! Coincidentally, 2003 was the first year in the history of Louis Roderer that they have made a Vintage Cuvée but no Cristal.

Bottles of Cristal in the
Bottles of Cristal in the “pupitres”

Pushing on down the auto-route heading south, negotiating rush hour in Lyon we arrived in Ampuis were Rene Rostaing (Domaine Rostaing) helped us load our first collection consisting of Northern Rhone wine. With little time to spare we pushed on towards Gigondas, our stop for the night.

Arriving under the cover of darkness to Les Florets Hotel in the foothills of the Dentelles was a magical experience. Greeted by a team of friendly waiters we were ushered straight in to a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Beaucastel Barrels
Beaucastel Barrels

Day three, first stop Beaucastel. Following a whistle stop tour of Les Caves we collected our quarry and headed on for Chateauneuf du Pape and Domaine Paul Avril better known as Clos des Papes. The warm autumnal weather combined with the rich reds and oranges of the turning vines made for a very lovely walk around Chateauneuf du Pape.

The view from Beaucastel
The view from Beaucastel

Velleron was the next stop and Charles Blagden provided us with our final collection for the tasting. We had lunch in nearby L’Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue and then set of for Mont Ventoux, which is famed as one of the hardest climbs in the Tour de France.

Provence from Les Dentelles de Montmirail
Provence from Les Dentelles de Montmirail

On Saturday morning we went for a walk from Les Florets in to the Dentelles, the sun was shining and the views over the watercolour landscape were beautiful. The afternoon’s activity consisted of a long drive to Beaune in Burgundy but what awaited us was to make for a great evening.

It just so happened to be the “Vend des Vins” fête and the town was alive with marching bands and festival atmosphere. After a few “Vins Chauds” on the street we had a fantastic supper in Le Goumandin in the heart of the town.

Fromage in Beaune
Fromage in Beaune

Sunday was a long slog back to London marred with the predictable problems getting through customs but all that did little to taint a very enjoyable trip.”