NOTE to one and all - apparently I was an idiot while packing and failed to bring the correct cables to download the pics from our cameras let alone to charge my phone...sigh. So, pictures will be forthcoming after our return home. Phone calls will also have to wait until I can get home and charge the device.
On Monday the 17th we took off north through Beaumes de Venise, Vacqueyras and Gigondas and, yes before you ask, I did taste pretty much everything anywhere it was open. However, given that I still had almost a case of wine from the Loire trip in 2004 sitting in Alexander's cave, new purchases other than those that will be consumed here, haven't been made. It was a beautiful drive - field after field of vines...some barely starting to have leaves and others with tiny baby grapes already showing.
One of the stops in Beaumes de Venise was at Domaine de la Pigeade. A lovely young woman was minding the cave and after our various attempts to massacre French, she revealed a very excellent skill in English with an American accent! Most of the French speak some English, but with British accents. She'd traveled the US for over 2 years. Bought three bottles of wine - red, rose and a muscat. Quite tasty...oh and also a bottle of their olive oil and balsamic vinegar which we've been enjoying too...our salads have been very happy with the addition.
On we went through Vacqueyras and Gigondas...wines so good you want to cry! And they cost half of what they do at home...so depressed that I can't bring more. The countryside between these areas are just filled with vineyards. The vines are old, big and twisted. The soil is not dark, but rather blushed with the ochres and limestone that one finds throughout Provence. The vines struggle for water although this year has been wet in Provence - everything is green and lush and I suspect the vines aren't working too hard yet. However, soon they will have to work for replenishment...the temps have begun to rise.
On the way north to our B&B outside Villedieu, we stopped at a few local wineries and wine cooperatives. Meh...so, so, but of course some was purchased. Majority of my wine purchases have been rose...ah, provencal rose...life is good.
Tried to check in at our B&B but nobody answered. So off to Villedieu to call them to find out when we could check in...not till around 4P so we had a lot of time to waste. Headed to Nyons to checkout the olives. Olives from Nyons are the "very best" and given our penchant for the little noir (black) and verte (green) goodies we had to try them. Tasted in a couple of places including their olive cooperative...bought a bunch as well as some olive oil to bring home.
Back to check in at Les Mas de Grateloup (the B&B). Very lovely place centered between Vaison les Romaines and Nyons. Built in the 17th century, it has been updated and the rooms are lovely, rustic but comfortable. If you are interested in the area and don't mind being in the country then this is a great place to use as a home base.
The next morning we headed to Vaison les Romaines for their market. I had thought that the Apt market was the largest I'd ever seen, but I think Vaison les Romaines may have it beat. Beautiful city - the largest collection of Roman ruins in any town in France. The market wound itself throughout it all. You couldn't turn without a new smell - roasting duck, chicken or quail - fresh fish stalls - honey - fresh melons - breads - croissants - and lots and lots and lots of white aparagus...my oh my. But while the food had my attention, there were other products available - clothes, kitchen equipment, shoes, provencal materials - you name it, it was there.
The rest of Tuesday was spent driving back to Apt. Stopped in Venasque a lovely town with incredible views over the surrounding valleys. As we headed home we ran into a winery that we'd discovered 11 years ago. While the grandmother wasn't there we enjoyed fractured discussions with the granddaughter who now seemed to run the tasting room. Chapelle St. Heyries will always hold a special place in our hearts and palates.
We did finally get to Apt and were met by Jinny who provided us with cepes lasagna, asparagus & ham lasagna as well as bread, olives and cheese. We encouraged her to join us and we happily consumed the wines from Chapelle St Heyries, the food and soon were heading to bed sated and happy.