March 2, 2012

Hi All

I know, its been more than a week!

Up this week: HILL TOWNS OF THE COTES du RHONE (part un)

This trip we start with the little town of Seguret. This home to about 200 folks is built into the side of the hill toward the northern end of the hills – the Dentelles de Montmirail. They are the eastern border of the Rhone Valley. And it is here that most of the Cotes du Rhone Villages are situated.

We start by going up to, and then past, the entrance to the town and push our way up the hillside to Domaine de Mourchon. Established back in 1988 by Walter McKinlay, this domaine produces outstanding Cotes du Rhone and Cotes du Rhone Villages (Seguret) wines.

In addition to being a producer, they also act as a negociant (buying juice from farmers and then aging and re-selling the wine under their label “Mourchon”……..sound familiar!?!?

As can be seen on the way up/down, their ‘estate’ encompasses just about every square foot of land that is plantable up on the hillside.

Now, back down the hill to the town itself. It is one of the sleepiest of the hill towns – as home to just 200, it is tiny, and its narrow lanes enhance its beauty. A few small shops, one restaurant and one caveau for winetasting makes this a quick visit. But a MUST VISIT it is…for the outstanding view of the Rhone Valley. This 180 degree vista really shows what the Cotes du Rhone is all about.

Descending further down to the valley floor, its off to Sablet…all of about 3 minutes away (around here, all the towns are close to one another..the trip from Avignon to Seguret is only about 45 minutes).

Sablet is the quintessential hill town. With its church spire sitting high above the center of town, even in the distance its charm is apparent. One of the great ‘photo opportunities’ of the area.

Its only a quick jaunt up to the center of town for lunch in the main square. Then available restaurants are small but charming, and the offers of salads, pizzas and wine on the terrace makes for a great meal.

Either before or after, it makes sense to make a quick stop in the Office of Tourism in the town. They provide a lot of info on the town and the surrounding area, as well as the opportunity to try a wine or two form the ‘AOC Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet’.

Back down the hill we go for a quick visit to one of the local producers. To choose from today are: Domanine de Pasquiers -on the road to Seguret – a producer of both Sablet and Gigondas wines; or Domaine de Verquiere – a solid producer of Sablets and Cotes du Rhone and my neighbor in the stands at last year’s Fete de la Versaison in Chateauneuf-du-pape.

But the choice for today is Domaine de Boissan. Christian Bonfils and his family run this small domaine at the foot of the town. He has been a friend and a great resource for information when I first made the purchase of my property. Together with his son, they make a variety of white and red Cotes du Rhones, including both Sablet and Gigondas. With his ‘urban vineyard’ in front of the house, he is the epitome of the small winefarmer.

That’s it for today.

Next week, I will continue the Cotes du Rhone Hill Town tour, working my way south through Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Beaumes de Venise!

Stay Tuned!!