Destination: Grenache

The best places to visit when exploring Grenache grapes

 


 

Avignon is packed with fine restaurants, too many to really narrow down into a concise list, but here’s the start of a list of can’t miss restaurants.
 
 
Cool, dark and edgy with an inventive menu, grounded in Mediterranean staples yet featuring international accents. Well priced too!
 
29 Rue de la Sarailliere
84000 Avignon
Tel: 04 90 85 21 83
restaurantnewground@hotmail.com
 
 
A classic bistro with Provencal dishes based on the freshest market ingredients. Another great value.
 
17 Rue Racine  84000 Avignon, France
04 90 85 20 93
 
Fou de Fafa
 
Quaint, elegant and consistently the top restaurant of Avignon. For carefully prepared classical dishes with an inventive twist. 
 
17 rue des Trois Faucons, 84000 Avignon.
Tel: (+)33 4 32 76 35 13.
Email: restaurantfoudefafe@gmail.com

Day Trip to Chateauneuf-du-Pape

 

As you might expect, this is the big daddy of Grenache-based blends and one of the great wine regions of the world. Almost all Chateauneufs are based on a majority of Grenache, some less and some more. The beauty of the Grenache in these wines is the fine rich core of red fruit and wonderful perfume of garrigue (wildflowers and herbs) that it imparts to these wines. These are two of my  favorite producers and each would make for a great visit, the pair a perfect contrast.
 
 
Perhaps the most famous of all Chateauneuf wines, they ironically use the lowest percentage of Grenache in the wines. This leaves room for a lot of Mourvedre and all of the remaining allowable 13 varieties of grapes used in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
 
Château de Beaucastel
Chemin de Beaucastel
84350 Courthezon
 
Tél. : +33 (0) 4 90 70 41 00
Fax : +33 (0) 4 90 70 41 19
E-mail : familleperrin@beaucastel.com
 
 
In a world where power seems to have the upper hand, Charvin manages to produce graceful, elegant wines year in and year out. This elegance is probably due to vineyard work as well as the fact that Charvin is typically produced from about 80 percent Grenache. In the cellar this is a traditional wine, produced without destemming and no new wood influence. Wonderfully aromatic and gentle wines are the fortuitous results!
 
Laurent Charvin
Chemin de Maucoil, 84100 Orange.
Tel. +33 490 344 110.
Direct sale: Monday - Friday 9.00-12.00 and 14.00-18.00
Mail: domaine.charvin@free.fr
 
 

Day Trip to Tavel

 

Grenache is not a one trick pony. It is also a major player, along with Cinsault, in the world’s only Rose Appellation: Tavel! This is the land of serious Rose, well as serious as Rose can get. These are dry, mineral and quite tense, even if they are wrapped in exquisitely soft layers of Grenache’s red fruit. Take a drive over to Tavel and enjoy a visit with the most famous producer, Chateau d’Aqueria.
 
In addition to the Rose, Chateau d’Aqueria also produces wonderful wines from the Lirac region. Based on Grenache but blended with Syrah and Mourvedre, these are plump and juicy wines, filled with black and red fruits. They are delicious in their own right but in a way must play second fiddle to the Rose!
 
route de Roquemaure
30126 TAVEL
Téléphone : +33 4 66 50 04 56
Fax : +33 4 66 50 18 46
 

Day Trip to Gigondas

 

Once a simple Cotes du Rhone du Village, the village of Gigondas produced fabulous Grenache wines with such consistency that the wines were finally recognized with their own appellation in 1971. While in the past Grenache may have played a bigger role in the wines of Gigondas, the grape is still the base for the region’s finest wines.
 
 
This domaine produces a classic Gigondas: Grenache rounded out with local varieties, with dollops of Merlot and Cabernet adding complexity and mid-palate richness. This is a deceptive wine, needing a bit of age to show its best, but a worthy addition to any cellar. 
 
Les Hautes Garrigues
84190 Gigondas
FRANCE
Phone. 00 33 4 90 65 84 49 
Fax. 00 33 4 90 65 81 63
yvesgras@santaduc.fr
 
 
If you’re looking for a more typical example of the richness Grenache can achieve in Gigondas, I can think of no better property to visit than the Domaine du Cayron. These are rich, sometimes chewy wines that show Grenache’s earthy and peppery side as well as the rich depth of fruit that distinguishes the finest wines of Gigondas. 
 
Domaine du Cayron - 84190 GIGONDAS
Rue de la Liberation
Tél : 04.90.65.87.46
 

Avignon, Part Deux

 

I would be remiss, and in fact a bit of a dolt, if I didn’t recommend that you spend some time soaking in the history and culture of the city of Avignon. This is a great walking city full of stunning architecture that ranges from the Palace of the Popes, listed as a Unesco Heritage Site, to a multitude of churches which display the evolution of style through the Middle Ages.
 
There are four walks laid out by the city to help visitors discover the rich beauty of this lovely site. Visit the famous pont d’Avignon, walk the old alleyways and side streets, and soak in the rich tapestry created by the private mansions added to the city scape in the 18th and 19th centuries.
 
Wine is a beautiful thing, but it’s not everything. Go in search of Grenache and discover the history that is such an intrinsic part of the beauty we find in the glass. Enjoy Grenache in Avignon, life can’t get much better.  
 

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  • Snooth User: vinsider
    541543 48

    what a great trip
    If you ever want to experience some great grenache, come to Paso Robles California, Stay at the Creekside B&B and we will compare notes.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:40 PM


  • Snooth User: topherg3
    921880 75

    A perfect trip, I'm excited because this July I'm taking a trip down the Rhone Valley. I'm looking forward to the Northern Rhone but when we get down to Avignon I'm now looking forward some Grenache based wines and down to Languedoc thanks for all the suggestions.

    May 15, 2012 at 9:36 AM


  • It is interesting to see the varying blends the winemakers work with. It points out that they all have different views on what they can produce and what they want to produce. Granted some may be limited to the types of grapes they can afford to work with and other may simply feel that their style is very good.
    I think too many people in the business of writing about wines or doing blogs are caught up with a certain label in a region and say that is the bench mark that all wine makers in the region should immolate. This is a shame but fortunately only 12% if the American people are categorized as wine drinkers ( according to some stat I read recently ). So there is a huge element of the population that can be informed simply what a good wine is and it is not the definition of the Holy Wine Bible written by decades of witless wine snobs.
    Mr. Gregory Dal Piaz, I believe is doing a fine job if not in times a GREAT JOB in informing his readers about wines and grapes in general so the readers get a more balanced view on what to expect from a wine region and the joy of finding out what these individual wine makers produce. I am also impressed with his efforts to find older well aged wines and do compare and contrast with new world and old world styles as well as how the wines themselves are aging.
    Let me say that I find it hard to find anyone who consistently does critics on older wines as GDP does. These are rare reading and should be appreciated because the wines he presents are fading quickly. So do not expect to find other such comments about wines of the 80’s and early 90’s.
    My joy in drinking wine has nothing to do with drinking famous labels but rather simply enjoying every bottle I open and try to realize what that wine is all about. How the blend of grapes has effected the aroma and taste.
    I learned this from my mentor Frank Schoonmaker, the interesting thing about this is the timing. I was a sommelier in the late sixties and early 70’s before finishing college and later worked as a wine salesman. In those days, all the top growth Bordeaux and burgundy wines were available at very reasonable prices and I would often share a class with my guests. So I learned to appreciate blends and aged bottles from Bordeaux and Burgundy Pinot Noirs analyzing what I was tasting and smelling.
    Think of it as walking into a garden, in mid morning, with all the various flowers blooming and you close your eyes and inhale deeply. As you rotate around [ if there is little wind ] you should be able to identify different fragrances from each area of the garden. As these fragrances blend together in certain pockets of the garden you will notice the strengths and weaknesses of each fragrance or even the absence. Now try doing this with the wines you drink. Look for the flavor of the grapes that make up that wine. If you are familiar with the flavor of grapes it becomes easy. If you are not then look the wine up on the Web and see if anyone posted the blend for that wine in that vintage year and then see if you can identify the different grape flavors. You may not know what is what in all the flavors but you might identify different flavors to start with. In time you will run across these flavors and learn to identify them.
    Thank You very much GDP for the wine educational work you do.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM


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