Wines of Provence Join Romancing the Rhône Tour
like LOVE French wine and want to increase your understanding of wines of Provence and the Rhône Valley. If so, then Ken Jourdan has the answer, book his Romancing the Rhône Wine Tour. This trip provides a comprehensive wine tour of the Côtes du Rhône wine region in the South of France. The only qualification required is an appreciation for good wine.
“Wine is to be judged by your palate and not influenced by the name on the bottle.” ~ Anonymous.
This Romancing the Rhône Tour is a lesson in the art of living, a perfect blend of wine, food, and lifestyle.
Wines of Provence
The wines of Provence have a mythical attraction. The Greeks brought the first non-indigenous vines to Massalia (Marseille) in about 600 BC. These were the earliest intentionally cultivated grapes and certainly the first rosés in France. The Romans arrived in Nostra Provincia (“our province”) in approximately 125 BC and began the work of expanding their commodity trade routes.
Evidence of Roman grape cultivation has been discovered throughout the region. Artifacts include fragments of pottery and tributes to Bacchus and Ariane on steles, sarcophaguses and statues. The Rhône River provided a convenient transportation link with the port of Marseille for shipping wine (and local goods) to other destinations. The Romans recognized that the steep sides of Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail provided decent shelter and drainage for grapes.
Experts believe that the first rosé wines were crafted during Roman times in Provence. Today, rosé wines from Provence ship around the world as the popularity of pink wine increases. Here is some additional background on the wines in Provence and the terminology.
Rhône Valley Wines
There are two parts to the Rhône Valley wine region north and south, with the tiny village of Saint Peray as the diving line. Ken’s Romancing the Rhône Tour concentrates on the southern section of the valley and some of the famous Appellation d’Origine Contrôlées (AOCs) in the area.
Your Provencal wine experience starts with an introduction to local production. In this region, AOC accreditation is rigorously regulated from specific towns to geographic regions. The Côtes du Rhône label is perhaps one of the most diverse areas, with a wider variety of grapes than most other wine appellations in France.
The wines of Provence and the Côtes du Rhone are typically created using assemblage techniques. Master winemakers ferment varietals separately and only then blend the wine. This winemaking methodology allows the vintner more flexibility in years where the growth and sugar production of one grape type might be better (or worse) than another varietal.
Home Base in Gaujac
Ken Jourdan, the owner of the Rhône Retreat, calls himself a French transplant. He moved to France some 15 years ago, and it’s been a decade since the doors opened to welcome the first bed & breakfast guests. Aside from being a delightful B&B host Ken runs organized tours of Provence through his company Americans in Provence. He also offers personalized tours on request.
Your Romancing the Rhône tour starts when Ken meets you at the Avignon TGV station or the airport. Sit back and enjoy your first glimpses of the South of France on the short drive to Gaujac. Vineyards surround the tiny village of Gaujac with its population of not quite 1,200 inhabitants. The famous rosé wines of Tavel and Côte du Rhône blends from Lirac are nearby. Within a few kilometres of the town are impressive examples of the region’s Roman history, including the Pont du Gard aqueduct. The Papal city of Avignon and Duché of Uzès are within easy reach of the B&B. In other words, there is plenty to see and do from your holiday “home.”
The gates at the Rhône Retreat swing open to reveal an impressive main house, constructed in the 1800s. Once a school, the building has had a succession of owners who added their stamp on the interiors. As time permits, Ken is refreshing the decor while leaving classic design elements. This lovely B&B has three separate cottages, each with all the modern comforts (AC, WIFI) and updated bathrooms.
After settling into your room, take a deep breath and enjoy some well-deserved relaxation time. On the Rhône Retreat property, there are plenty of shaded, outdoor spaces perfect for a nap or read a book. Or, there is a sparkling, turquoise pool, at the centre of the garden, beckoning you to take a dip.
Romancing the Rhône
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Côtes du Rhône vineyards producing the finest Grand Crus. In September through November, it’s a chance to experience the wine harvest and production. Late spring (mid-April through May) the first buds appear on the vines, and there might be a chance to taste the latest vintage.
A visit to the Brotte Museum sets the stage for a short backgrounder on the history of Châteauneuf du Pape, varieties of grapes in the region and centuries-old production methods. The group will tour a few of the renowned Châteauneuf du Pape cellars.
There are 16 villages in the Southern Rhône producing prestigious wines. These towns are individual appellations. Tour visits include some well-known producers in Lirac, Tavel, Vacqueyras, and Gigondas and wine samples, of course.
Tastes of Provence
The South of France benefits from its proximity to the Mediterranean and the favourable climate for agriculture. During your stay, you will sample local cuisine prepared at handpicked restaurants, creations by a private chef, and a chance to try regional specialities. On the agenda is a visit to Uzès where the market (Saturdays and Wednesdays) sprawls through the cobblestone streets with bounties of colour and scents. Discover the flavours of Provence starting with breakfast on a shaded terrace and in the culinary delights at every meal.
Romancing the Rhône Tour is a small group tour for 4 – 6 people, although a maximum of 8 is possible.
The ideal timing is in the spring or fall, with plenty of flexibility on the exact timing.
Package cost for the seven (7) day tour starts at $5000 per couple, which includes:
- 6-nights of accommodation at the Rhône Retreat in Gaujac
- All meals
- Ground transportation to all outings
- Transfers to/from Avignon TGV or Avignon Airport
- All wine tastings and vineyard visits
For full details on this Rhône Valley Wine Tour: