Saturday, 13 July 2013

French Holiday 2 -The Vaucluse


From our base in the medieval hilltop village of Sablet, we have easy access to most of the Vaucluse wine villages. One of the key objectives of our visit was to do a recce for a wine walking holiday with friends in 2014. The first task was to find a suitable base for about twelve people. Trawling the net threw up a number of chateaux and hotels that might be appropriate but one stood out, Chateau Juvenal at Saint  Hippolyte le Graveyron, conveniently sited  on the road between Beaumes de Venise and Caromb.

It ticks all the boxes on accommodation, food etc and makes good wine as well in the Ventoux appellation. We can now plan the details from a long list of walks, restaurants,wine tasting opportunities, cooking classes and other outings.
On Monday morning we went to Bedoin market, which seems to get bigger each year that we visit. It has all the usual Provencal products and was less crowded than I remember it in the school holidays. Bedoin is the main launch point for the trip up nearby Mont Ventoux, especially for the hordes of cyclists who punish their way up to the limestone capped top of the 2000m high icon.
 During the week we tasted wine at a number of properties, focussing for a change on the delicate whites as opposed to the beefy reds which I tend now to buy en-primeur from the Wine Society. The whites are made from viognier (good examples of 100% cepage from Ferme St Pierre at Flassan and Chateau de Trignon in Gigondas.) Otherwise most of the whites are blends of local grapes, Viognier, Grenache blanc, Clairette, Rousanne, Marsanne and Bourboulenc. Good examples were tasted at Domaine le Clos des Cazaux at Vacqueras, Domaine Saint Gayan Sablet blanc and Mourchon, la Source from Seguret.
We didn't entirely ignore the reds. We particularly like the Vacqueras from Les Amouriers, both Signature and Geneste cuvees. We also liked the classy but expensive Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas at their cave in the centre of Gigondas next to the Cave des Vignerons where you can taste the output of almost every property.
On the restaurant front we found some good new addresses. In Le Barrou we enjoyed lunch at L'Entre Potes, the bistro attached to the classy le Gajulea next door. Out on the Plan de Dieu near Cairanne we found the newly opened Coteaux et Fourchettes. Excellent value with a wine shop attached. Across in Carpentras, Chez Serge delivered an excellent lunch. The restaurant is conveniently sited across from the Platanes car park. We first met Serge by coincidence in a vineyard in the Languedoc. He's a larger than life character who has made a considerable reputation for himself.

One of the highlights was visiting the artist Marysia Donaldson at her lovely home near Tulette. We rented a holiday property from them a few years ago. I was able to present her with a copy of my first book, The Stuart Agenda, which used her house for a scene and mentions a painting by her late husband, David Donaldson, a portrait of the Queen in Holyrood Palace.
We did a nice walk up from Suzette, another charming village, higher up at the back of the Dentelles. We enjoyed coffee in it's only restaurant, Les Coquelicots. At the end of the week we looked forward to stopovers on the return journey at Julienas in the Beaujolais and Puligny Montrachet in Burgundy.

Novels by Alan Calder

 The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon



  1. Enjoyed your photos as much as the blog post, Alan.

  2. Thanks Gerri, its a great part of France. Alan

  3. Hi Alan, this is Scott from Toronto. I just discovered your books and am excited to read them. Will The Glorious Twelfth be coming out in paperback book form? My birth-dad's name is Alan Calder (originally from Edinburgh but now in Toronto) and his Mother's family are Sinclairs. I love all things Templar, Masonic, Jacobite, etc.. My 3xGreat Grandfather (John Calder) is buried in Temple Kirk (Midlothian), site of the old Templar headquarters in Scotland.