Travel Blog: Day Three

DAY THREE  |  Pic-St-Loup, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Séguret, Gigondas

We started early this morning with a drive down into the Languedoc, about an hour and a half south. Once off the autoroute, the road begins to wind through rugged terrain. Scraggly green-gray bushes cover rocky outcroppings bleached by the brilliant sun; the two-lane road is shoulderless, but passing is never in question.

Our domaine here in Pic-St-Loup is biodynamic and organic, and their fields and vineyards are as beautiful as their vines. Bees buzz everywhere, as birds sing and small woodland animals dart between rows of vines. The wines here are perhaps better than ever — pure, inky, seductive reds of syrah, grenache, and carignan. We tasted all wines outside, taking in the warm air and bucolic setting around us. Toward the end of our tasting, our host led us down the hill to their wild pasture of brebis goats, which are let loose into the vines to trip the wild grasses. With the natural world bursting around us, and a fresh, vibrant glass of wine in hand, it seemed our own private Eden in the south of France.

Before hitting the road we stopped in town for a baguette, mustard, cornichons, paté, and local cheese, just making the noon deadline for food. Though the act of eating in the car is certainly not francais, we did our best to make the contents of the meal appropriate to our surroundings. Whatever the level of authenticity, the sandwiches hit the spot.

After lunch we visited a promising new winemaker in the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape — just two wines (a white and a red), but beautifully made and welcomingly priced. Having ended early, we stopped by another Chateauneuf domaine based on an enthusiastic endorsement from our the morning’s visit in Pic-St-Loup. These too proved exceptional — just two wines again (white and red) of the highest and purest quality. An embarrassment of riches in wine where once there lived an embarrassingly rich series of popes.

Our final tasting of the day was in Séguret, at a new domaine run by old friends. We began with a fascinating visit to the terraced vines in the hills behind Séguret — a hidden spot with a favored exposition and a charming collection of wildflowers and herbs. Back at the domaine we tasted through an exceptional lineup of white, rosé, and red. Exciting to see a young winemaker really hit his stride.

A dinner back in Gigondas — risotto with local wild mushrooms and finely roasted pork tenderloin, with lovely six-year-old Rasteau. More CDP tomorrow, then north to the Northern Rhône.