When it rains in Provence one can either snuggle up with a good book, go to the movies or call Avignon Wine Tours to be treated to a special, very personal journey through the harvests of the local vineyards. In the expert hands of our charming guide, David, who delivered the only ‘sunshine of the day’, right into our glasses.
Chateau La Verrerie
Puget sur Durance, in the Luberon Valley, Provence, France
Under the eaves of some of the most magnificient local domains of the Luberon, starting with Chateau La Verrerie, David shared some of his immense viticultural knowledge. Sipping and savouring were certainly recommended but listening and learning were required!
Spell bound by this beautiful region of Provence, Jean Louis Descours, a successful business man, realised the dream of his life, when 32 years ago, with the help of son, he established this phenomenal wine cellar.
The tasting room of Chateau le Verrerie
An 1867 American wine metal cap press
Lourmarin, in the Luberon Valley, Provence, France
Chateau Fonvert, our local Chateau, covers 20 hectares in Lourmarin, with organically grown Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Vermentino, Grenache blanc grapes, producing a ‘sunshine’ that truly glistens in the glass!
David (left), taught us how to recognise the age of the wine and how long it could be kept, the climate where the grapes had been grown, the types of barrels it had matured in and most importantly whether it was a good, balanced wine to drink.
Domaine de la Citadelle
Just outside Ménerbes, in the Luberon Valley, this stunning property at Domaine de la Citadelle had me wanting to sell all my real estate and move in, if only I could afford it!
The vineyards of Domaine de la Citadelle ~ being watered from heaven!
Fermenting rooms of Domaine de la Citadelle were impressively ‘high tech’. The control panel looked more like something that Captain Kirk would be standing at, giving orders to Mr Spock!
The cellars of Domaine de la Citadelle
David explained that about 80% of the wine from Provence and the Luberon Valley is stored in old oak barrels, a mixture of barrels from France and America
The vintners believe that new oak, which has more tannins, hides the true spirit of the region, the integrity of the soil and the local climate.
The small barrels, pictured here are used for only eight years. The larger casks can last up to eighty years. They are then sold and used for Belgian beer, Japanese sake or Scottish whisky.
The Cork Screw Museum
Domaine de la Citadelle is also home to a fascinating, private collection of corkscrews. It was we Brits who invented the corkscrew, when in the late 17th century, the English started to mature their imported wine in bottles rather than casks. Until then wine was stored in casks and drawn off into jugs for consumption. Glass bottles began to be manufactured industrially and their shape rapidly changed from the bulbous onion shape to a cylindrical shape (similar to the modern bottle), allowing bottles to be laid on their sides for storage. This meant that the wine stayed in contact with the cork and the cork stayed moist. The sides of the bottle necks became parallel requiring a cylindrical cork. This cork was compressed before insertion into the bottle to ensure a tight fit. Hence the need for a cork extractor, “bottlescrue” or corkscrew!
Domaine de Marie
Menerbes,in the Luberon Valley, Provence, France
Domaine de Marie also just outside Menerbes, it’s cellar is on show as soon as you walk in and the smell of aged oak pervades your nostrils…… ambience fills the air!
Domain de Marie, Menerbes, our last wine tasting of the day
David had taught us many things on this wonderful day that will hopefully continue to enrich our wine selection and tasting.
Many profound things have been written about wine over the centuries, I loved David’s parting comments to us;
Remember, mes amis, the best wine is in the moment, for wine is like an emotion it has to be experienced and felt…..