Saturday, April 29, 2017

More about Chateauneuf du pape !

As you understood from my former post, organising your day in Chateauneuf can prove a bit challenging..

Just back from a "in depht" 3 days tour in Chateauneuf we organised for wine lovers, here are some more information about Chateauneuf.

All the 300 wineries of Chateauneuf will do a different wine from one another for many reasons such as :

- The type of blend the use. For the red, GSM is the most common for the red (Grenache, Syrrah & Mourvedre) but you can find a chateauneuf 100% Grenache (pending on the year) to a 13 grapes wine.
- The type of the terroir (rocky, sandy, clay),
- The location and exposition of the plot,
- The lenght of the fermentation, with or without steam, the control of the temperature,
- The fermentation by monogrape or by blend or even by plot,
- The way of aging the wine in concrete tank, wood casks, wood barrels, etc,
- And of course the age of the vine!

All wine will of course be different from one year to another, according to the weather...

And now off the process of making wine.

Will try to do a separate post on each of the fabulous estate that welcomed us and shared their knowledge with passion.

The press (Old and new)
Old press style used at Domaine Bois de Boursan

Press at Chateau Vaudieu

2 - The Fermentation steel tank or concrete tank
Domaine de Beaurenard

Domaine Jean Royer

3 - Aging the wine
Concrete Domaine Jean Royer

New Oak barrels Domaine Jean Royer

Casks and Barrel at Domaine Pegaud

60 yrs old cask at Domaine Pegaud

The new "egg style" Domaine Pegaud

The new "Tulip" in concrete Chateau Vaudieu from the top

Tulip in concrete

Concrete tank at Domaine L'Abbedine

Casks from Domaine Beaurenard

Aging cellar at Domaine Beaurenard

Training the next generation at Domaine L'abbedine...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

La Chassagnette in Camargue. Perfect vegetarian restaurant

Going to La Chassagnette is rather an experience.

Located 15mn south of Arles in Le Sambuc (50 mn from St Remy), it is tucked in the middle of Camargue in a little peace heaven.

Chef Armand Arnal who is leading the kitchen since many years offers you his unique and innovative cuisine based on vegetables mostly coming from the property garden.

On Arrival, take time to visit the extensive garden, its 4 veggy tunnels, its orchard.....

And then enjoy an all vegetarian meal.
The lunch 3 courses (55 €) was excellent and was paired with juices (carrots & ginger, beetroot).
The restaurant also propose non vegetarian dishes but the emphasis is obviously on vegetal.

Outside seating by the garden, in the evening, you can also have outside dinner in an area that is protected from the mosquitoes that are present in the Camargue.

Once finished with you meal, you may pick some Herbes de Provence to bring back home.

And then on you can drive all the way to the miles long beach of Piemanson, unspoiled beach.
On the way, wander in the little hamlet of Salin de Giraud (Salt factory). See the mountain of salt drying, catch a great picture of the many pink flamingoes (or even swan) that spend the summer here.
If you come early or late in the season, you will still be able some of the "lazy" flamingoes that decided the region was still perfect in winter and settled year long in Camargue.

And if you feel like action, you can always stop in one the many Manade (ranch), horseride or talk to the bull...

This is the perfect location for a "day out in the country".

La Chassagnette
Route du Sambuc
(from Arles, follow the sign to Saintes Maries de la mer and then turn left to "Le sambuc/Salin de Griaud)
04 90 97 27 96
opens 7/7 from July 1st to Sept 16th
mid season opens 7/7 for Lunch and Thursday to Saturday for dinner

3 courses lunch menu at 55€
5 courses discovery menu at 85€
8 courses degustation at 125€
Wine pairing as from 34€

One of the 4 veggy tunnel

March 20th 2017 in Provence

Herbes de Provence garden

Garlic flower tofu with Veggy "à la Grecque"

Green Asparagus and Artichoke risotto

Candied Fenel with Lemon & Thyme Sorbet

The team of La Chassagnette

Chef Armand Arnal

A day in Camargue: Discovering the wild life and nature

Camargue is the name of the area formed by the Rhone river delta starting in Arles when the Rhône river divides in two (small Rhône on the west, large Rhône on the east).

Known as the kingdom of bulls and white Camargue horses, it is also the home of Pink Flamingoes spending summer in the salty ponds. Luckily for us, some lazy flamingoes decided that the place was rather nice and settled all year long.

Camargue is also know in France for its salt and its rice.

The little roads of Camargue may be full of surprises and offer many "nature" activities.

If your timing is short, you may prefer the short version of Camargue.

Drive to Arles, follow the sign to Les Saintes Maries de la mer and a few kilometres after Arles, follow the sign to Le Sambuc.

Along the road, you will see :
- The quaint hamlet of Salin de Giraud with its cute little houses built to host the workers of the Salines,
- Manades (i.e. ranches) where you can do horseback riding and learn all about the bulls,
- A couple of winery,
- The salt mountain of the Salines (this salt being used for industries and road),
- Pink flamingoes and swans,
- And end up on the fantastic miles long beach of Piemanson.

Driving back from Piemanson (this is a Cul de Sac road) to Saint Remy will take you about 1h15.

Wild White Camargue horses

All year Pink Flamingoes settlement in Camargue

Bois flotté in Camargue

Salt mountain near Salin de Giraud

Plagge de Piemanason

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A day in Camargue: Saintes Maries de la mer

Once upon a time, many moons ago (actually in 40 after C), Marie Jacobé, Marie Salomé, Martha, Marie Magdalena and Sara landed on the shores of Camargue after a long journey from Palestine on a small boat.
Marie Jacobé and Marie Salomé settled in Camargue with Sara and spent the rest of their life, bringing to the locals the good words of Jesus. Sara, who was supposed to be the servant of Marie Salomé was of dark skin coming from a place known as "little Egypt" and became the Sainte of a population known today as the Gypsis...
Martha went on to Tarascon and Marie Magadalena to Saint Maximin, but that's another story....

"Les Saintes" as we name it locally is a cute little sea resort with a casual atmosphere.

The high time of the year is obviously happening on May 24th when all the gipsies gather for Sainte Sara's pilgrimage.

The drive from Saint Remy is about 1h10. Follow the signs to Arles and then to Saintes Maries de la mer.

If you want to hit the market, go on Monday or Friday (larger market). The market will give you a different feel than the Saint Remy one and will of course focus on local products such as the rice, the salt and the wine.

Stroll through the little streets of the village and visit the church with its crypt dedicated to Ste Sara. In 1448, King René of Provence ordered the exhumation of the Saintes whose relics were enshrined with great ceremony and are still here today.
You may also walk up the stair (3€ entrance fee) to the top of the church where you will get a nice panoramic view of the Camargue.

And for the Van Gogh fans, remember that Vincent spent a week here in June 1888 while he was in Arles. He did many drawings which he painted when back to Arles.

You'll find plenty of restaurant offering Bull dishes, fish an Paella.
We had lunch at La Taverne Italienne which we recommend. No fancy casual restaurant with a friendly service and overall good value for menu (2 courses lunch @15.90€, 3 courses at 17.50€)

If you intend to stay for sunset, dont forget to bring along a mosquito repellant....

Once you're finished with the village, drive back through Camargue (other post to come).

View of the Church of Les Saintes Maries de la mer

Sea salt, "Fleur de sel" and rice from Camargue

Sainte Salomé and Sainte Jacobé on their boat.

Sainte Sara's shrine in the crypt

Fisherman's boat