Southern France wine questions

Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 12:53 PM
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twk
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Southern France wine questions

I'm doing most of the planning for our group of six that, next June, is going to Beynac-et-Cazena in the Dordogne for a week, followed by three nights in Provence (probably St. Remy), and three nights in Nice, before taking the TGV up to Paris for a final 3 nights.

I'm not a wine drinker, but some in our party are, and even if they weren't, I don't think you could make a trip to rural France without seeing a wine stop or two of some sort. Unfortunately, not being a wine expert, I really feel a little bit out of my depth in trying to line up something that will be fun for the group. I would love to get some input from those with more knowledge on the subject.

From what I've read, I'm aware of three wine growing areas that we either defnitely will be traveling to, or close enough by for a daytrip that might be of interest: (1) the region around Bordeaux; (2) the region around Cahors; and, (3) the Cotes du Rhone. Am I on track, or am I way off base on thinking these are the possiblities. If I've missed a region, let me know. Of these regions (or the ones I've overlooked), are there any particular sites or activities that you would reccommend for a group that will include a range of interest in wine (ranging from love to drink it, but don't know much about, to, not really a big fan of wine)?

Any input is appreciated.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 01:08 PM
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I would say without a doubt that the Cahors wine cellars are the friendliest, because they are the least pretentious. If you have no experts in your group, I would definitely recommend visiting places there. In those other regions, a certain bit of snootiness is the norm, either among the vintners or the visitors who will starts throwing around years and micro-crus just to show what experts they are.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 01:58 PM
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I haven't done it yet, but we are taking a wine tour in Provence with Wine Uncovered (www.wine-uncovered.com). You can do a 2,3 or 4 domaine tour. We did something similar in Burgundy and loved it.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 02:07 PM
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Even friendlier than the Cahors wines are the Bergeracs and Pécharmants and Monbazillacs and Montravels and Saussignacs in the Dordogne - and you don't have to travel to Bordeaux or Cahors to taste them (actually, there's little point in making a day trip to either Bordeaux or Cahors just for the wine, as those wines are widely available all over the Périgord). Whereas you can easily find a Bordeaux or Cahors wine in the USA, with the exception of Bergeracs, your friends will probably never be able to buy a bottle of Périgord wine back home, so it should be more interesting, IMO, to stick with the local wines.

There are lots of places to do dégustations in the Périgord. There's Julien de Sauvignac's specialty wine, liquor, and local food delicacy store just outside Le Bugue on the road to Cadouin; there's the dégustation place on the right on the road into Castelnaud from Beynac (wine and local foods); there's the wine store in Les Eyzies opposite Le Vieux Moulin; and there are countless places in Sarlat and every other decent-size town. You'll see signs everywhere. And every supermarket has a huge selection of local wines as well as Bordeaux and Cahors wines.

Yes, the Bouches-du-Rhône wines - IMO in particular the rosés - are the thing to try in that area of France. Again, you'll see dégustation signs everywhere. I like the Mas des Dames between Maussanne and Les Baux.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 02:19 PM
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I LOVE Bergeracs and they aren't easy to find in our part of the country, so it's a treat when they do have them.
Chateauneuf du Pape would make a splendid stop in Provence. We stopped by a lovely chateau just outside of town and they were very gracious.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 09:03 PM
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I agree with Gretchen. If you are going to do just one wine-tasting in Provence, I'd put Les Baux low on the list and instead head straight for the Cote du Rhone villages - Chateauneuf or Gigondas/Vaqueyras a bit of muscat from Beaumes de Venise and then a rosé from Tavel and you are all set (and no doubt unfit for anything but a long siesta)...

All of these places are located right in the same area (along the Rhone river, not surprisingly) and the scenery is lovely and the people are generally relaxed and pleasant. There are tons of tasting rooms and Domaines to visit.

-Kevin
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 11:37 PM
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I second www.wine-uncovered.com - Olivier is extremely knowledgable and also you don't have to worry about driving with all the wine-tasting when you go on a tour with him.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 07:47 AM
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In Beynac you will be in the Bergerac wine region, as St Cirq says - red, white, Pecharmant, plus the sweet wines, Monbazillac, etc.

You can taste wines in lots of places, even in the farmers' markets , plus in Sarlat there is the Cave de Benoit, just off the main square, and Julien de Savignac just at the south end of the town.

I agree that for Cotes du Rhone the cave at Gigondas is great, and of course there is Baumes de Venise, wonderful sweet wine not far away.

That should keep most wine lovers happy.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions, and keep them coming.

I'm trying to get our wine connoisseurs to try some of these wines (to the extent we can find them) before we go so we'll have some indication of what they like most. I was down in Houston last week and went wine shopping with my sister and was excited to find a rose from Seguret. Unfortunately, when she tried it, she didn't like it much--although that didn't stop her from finishing the bottle. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to keep sampling and looking. I did look for something from Cahors but couldn't find anything, but I think there are some larger wine shops in Houston that we can check out and possibly find something.

I was sort of thinking that, for those of us who aren't wine enthusiasts, seeing the production process might be more interesting than the degustation opportunities. Anybody have reccommendations on specific chateaux which might offer a wider look at the wine making process?
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 08:48 PM
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TWK -

Since you live in Houston, the absolute best thing you can do is get in touch with Tim and Phyllis at http://www.frenchcountrywines.com/ - they really know their south of France wines and as a bonus are extremely pleasant and fun people. And yes, on the disclosure front, these are friends of ours.

-Kevin
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Old Sep 26th, 2010, 05:02 PM
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Kevin: Excellent link. I don't live in Houston, but I'll have my sister that lives there (whose going on the trip and is more of a wine fan that I am) check them out. Thanks.
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Old Oct 5th, 2010, 03:56 AM
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chateauneuf du pape,gigondas and vacqueyras are a must
you may use avignon as a base
www.france-wine-routes.com are helpful to locate accommodation and vineyards visits
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Old Oct 5th, 2010, 04:09 AM
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Cahors wines come in various styles so if you want to understand it you probably need to go to a wine festival or fair in the town (check the town web site for the next one). Anyone coming to this area needs to look at www.daumas-gassac.com/ which is probably one of the most interesting of the wineries opened in the last 30 years. Recently changed hands the tasting we had last year was great
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