You simply have to indulge when you visit the gorgeous sunny south of France. Here, the great gastronomy is perfectly partnered with wonderful wines and wine tasting in Provence especially the area known as the Luberon, is an absolute joy.
Vines have grown here since Roman times. The soil and the climate and a whole host of other factors create what the French call “terroir”. It’s impossible to translate properly but means a whole raft of things that affect the taste of produce and wine. What is easy to discover though, is that terroir here means the grapes are cosseted in a way that gives the wine a sensational bouquet.
Chateaux and lavender and wine tasting in Provence
It’s not for nothing that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bought a rather stunning chateau in the Luberon area. There they made wine and enjoyed the pleasures of a Provencal lifestyle. They almost bought the gorgeous Chateau Val-Joannis but decided at the last minute that it wasn’t quite private enough. That’s good news for me and you because we can now tour the fabulous gardens, ogle at the incredible chateau and take home a bottle or two of their lovely wine.
Surprising wines of Provence
A short drive away is another producer whose lovely domaine you should head to if you love wine. Château du Grand Callamand (which is also a stunning guest house) in the heart of the Luberon Regional Park is run by a family who had a happy accident with their wine. Ten years ago they forgot to harvest the grapes in one little patch. It was a good summer so all was not lost, the grapes were able to be picked very late. They made for a deep, dark red wine with an intense and delicious taste. The family called it “vin noir” and ever since, they’ve left a little patch in the vineyard to ripen late into autumn. In years when the weather is kind and the summer runs on into autumn, they make more of this most rare and luscious drink. You can buy it in their shop whilst you’re falling in love with the views you can see from the terrace.
Fabulous wine and bike rides
With all this extravagance, it’s good to work up an appetite or burn off a few calories. That’s easy and incredibly wonderful with a bike ride through vineyards and orchards of cherries and apricots. In the shadow of “the giant of Provence”, Mont Ventoux to give it its proper name, an enterprising wine co-operative called TerraVentoux offer electric bike ride tours (so it’s not too strenuous). They’ll guide you to the most beautiful places like the little hidden town of Flassan located in the centre of vineyards and orchards (top photo). At their shop you can buy wine and local produce – it’s absolutely irresistible and for me, one of the highlights of a trip to this area.
The markets of Provence – tempting markets held daily
Petite Guide to Provence – what to see and do
Where to see the lavender in Provence – how to avoid the crowds and see this purple beauty at its best
5 Fabulous towns in Provence