Lunch in Gigondas and some serious tasting in a Rasteau paradise!

10.06.11 Lunch in Gigondas and some serious tasting in a Rasteau paradise!
The Dentelles overlook a planting of Plan de Dieu
More photos here
If you ever visit Hennessey’s distillery in Cognac, you will be shown an area called Paradise, where they keep their oldest brandies. Was reminded of that today in the Provencal town of Rasteau.
Didn’t make the brightest of starts today. Even the squirrel was knocking on our door or at least on the mosquito door shield and then two horsemen on the white Camargue ponies came riding down between the rice fields.
In any event, we didn’t reach Gigondas until about one o’clock. The local Caveau had already been closed for an hour and wouldn’t open for another hour.
If you can’t beat them, join them. So we got one of the last tables at De Verre a L’assiette in the village centre and spent the next hour sampling the wines and eating a salad. I kid you not. Salads here are huge and these were also gorgeous. Mine was Endive with Blue Cheese and nuts (and loads more) while Clare enjoyed Maigret de Canard with Parmesan (and loads more). Olives were supplied while we waited and plenty of bread followed.
Wines were a local Rose at €3.50 a glass and a Fruity Red Gigondas at €4.00. Total cost €31.00. We had to wait a while for the bill and when we got to the Caveau it was packed. From a huge list, managed to taste a few including some old vine Domaine du Grand Montmirial, found it excellent, so much better than the stuff in the nearby restaurant, and bought some.
Headed on then through the Cotes du Rhone scenic routes, calling to pretty villages such as Sablet and Seguret, before hitting the jackpot in the Cave de Rasteau.
This fairly newly built showcase shop for the Cave (itself established in 1925) was one of the best I’ve come across: loads of advice, bags of choice and no shortage of tastings. We needed some “house” wines for the rest of the holiday so started with some “lowly” whites before advancing through some gorgeous local reds before moving on to the fortified sweet stuff which comes in both white (gold) and red.
Their Cotes du Rhone Villages Tradition was very impressive and found its way in some numbers to the boot along with the sweet stuff. Then we drove back along some beautiful countryside, vines in the flat fields and village higher up.
Suddenly, our GPS lady Susie had us on a three lane autoroute. Up goes the speed and up go the tempers. Just missed, by inches, being pranged by a kid driver, madly upset when a automatic toll collector failed to function and tried to force his way across the queues. Lucky escape there, considering all that Rasteau in the back. Whew!