Updated: Mar 31
What a great trip!
We have been away for 3 weeks, the sun has shone we have had some great meals and found new wines to add to our list.
Check out the new wines we have found on our travels and now added to the range!
Rioja - Santamaria Gran Reserva
21st - 22nd Sept 2019
A couple of nights in Challons-en-Champagne. A couple of days to relax before we move onto Brigandat to buy champagne!
Our last visit is to Channes which is on the edge of the Champagne area to our producer Bertran Brigandat.
We arrive at the cellar to find the local television company filming the bottling machine and interviewing Bertran. The film is being taken to promote Champagne day which is in October and producers will celebrate the special day at a festival where visitors can sample their wine.
Business finished and a car full of wine we make our way to friends in Normandy to spend a couple of nights before we get the Ferry home.
18th - 20th Sept 2019
Back in the wine trail we visit Domaine Bourdon our Pouilly Fuissée producer. Francois and Sylvie are the owners of this vineyard and they proudly say that now the business has been in the family for 6 generations, one more than last year as their son has just joined them here in the winery.
As always we get a warm welcome here and they are pleased to present two new wines to the Bourdon brand. The area is famous it’s white wine made from the Chardonnay grape, the new additions show this grape picked from different surrounding areas outside of the Pouilly Fuissée appellation. The first wine we try is from Mâcon-Villages (Beaujolais region) and ther second from Mâcon-Vergisson after tasting both we decide to add the Pierre Clos to our list.
One of the tasks for this year’s trip was to find new white wines to add to our range and Pierre Clos is a quality wine at a reasonable price so we decide to add this to our shipment home.
Purchases made and it’s lunchtime. A little research has been done today and we have found a restaurant just 1km from the Gite we are staying at. It is highly rated so we decide to try it out.
Restaurant L’Embellie in Sainte-Cécile - yesterday was rustic food today we are fine dining! Choices made from ‘a la carte’ menu we order a bottle of Chateau Spencer (love to find our wines in restaurants!) then wait with anticipation.
Food arrives and we are a bit confused as Torq has ordered Lamb and finds chicken on his plate but we decide to go with it (not to make a fuss, also our French may not be good enough to explain). About 5 minutes later the kitchen must have realised and the Maitre D came apologised and offered to change the meals but then we were half way through so said it was OK.
Pudding and coffee sitting in the sun all great but we were disappointed that when the bill came there was no reduction for their mistake not even a free cup of coffee! Perhaps I am wrong but we didn’t want to make a scene and a little token would have left us with the feel good factor.
Food OK customer service nil!
Two days off work!
We are staying in a Gite in Mazille a small village in Bourgogne. This is a great place to relax with beautiful views.
A day spent in nearby town of Cluny, no great dining experience here just good honest food the type you used to be able to buy in France all the time. Plat de Jour for €10 - 3 courses and a glass of wine!
17th Sept 2019
Tuesday morning we spend an hour in the car and visit Domaine Grangeneuve, where we have arranged to meet Natalie at the tasting room. When we arrive she is busy with the oenologist testing wines already in their tanks, they are checking on how the wine is progressing and this task is repeated weekly.
Testing completed, she joins us for a degustation. This year they have introduced a new range of wines which are very reasonably priced but cannot be described as Côtes du Rhône appellation as they are using grapes not recognised by the DOC here and so they are labelled Appelation Controlee Mediterranean.
We are impressed by these wines and decide to add the Rosé and Red to Carte-du-Vin’s range.
We stay overnight in Rochefort-en-Valdaine, small village near Montelimar (famously known as home of Nougart) the accommodation is very comfortable with a pool to relax by.
Madame et Monsieur served all the residents with a delicious home cooked three course meal. It was a great evening with good conversation and ironically the wine to accompany the food was Domaine Grangeneuve - the same new range we have just bought. We are pleased on our decision to buy as they drank well with the local cuisine.
16th Sept 2019
After 2 days relaxing we start our travels again and leave Provence and make our way north to Côtes du Rhône where we visit Domaine Berthet-Raine.
Again this is one of our original producers and André welcomes us fleetingly as he has no time to stop and chat, the Harvest is in full swing and he busy driving the tractor bringing the bunches of grapes from the farm where they have been hand-picked, he unloads them and immediately they go onto the conveyor belt to be de-stemmed. The speed with which this job is complete important, as the grapes need to get into the cool as quickly as possible, as left in the warm fermentation starts prematurely.
André leaves us in the very capable hands of his daughter Alexandra who now works at the vineyard - we taste the wines make, our purchases and leave the Domaine just as another tractor full of grapes arrive!
A few kilometres down the road we stop for lunch at Restaurant Côteaux & Fourchettes which is situated on a roundabout just outside of Cairanne.
You can never be sure what quality to expect and also on a Monday in France it can be difficult to even find a restaurant open! We are in luck, today we find a little gem and we both have ‘Plat du jour’ €25 each which isn’t cheap but the food was superb - a fine dining experience!
Next to find our accommodation, we drive to Gigondas - this beautiful village is famous for their red wine. Having had such a big lunch, we just a need a snack and there is a bar below our room called Le Nez. We drop in here as the place is buzzing - we share charcuterie and fromage platter and chat to a young couple from Boston USA who are in France doing the same as usvisiting vineyards.
15 Sept 2019
Sunday is a day at rest so no wine tasting today we visit an Olive Farm instead and have an olive oil degustation a great way to spend a couple of hours
Tonight gourmet food at Martello-Richard 5 courses and bottle of wine for €60 per person parfait!
14 Sept 2019
Saturday we leave Languedoc and travel to Provence to stay a couple of nights in a charming Hotel Val Baussenc in Maussane-les-Alpilles an
excellent Hotel and a chance to relax and enjoy Restaurants with superb fresh fish lovely Provence Rosé and eating outside until gone 11pm at night.
13 Sept 2019
We have now purchased all the wine we are taking back to UK but this doesn’t stop us looking for new wines to add to our store.
We take a winding road up to the commune de Tarerach (Pyrénées-Orientales 66) towards Domaine des trois Orris we have found this vineyard by a recommendation from friends who have a property in the region.
The trip to the Domaine is beautiful and the vistas amazing.
This is a small vineyard of 11 hectares and owned by Cyrille and his family, they have been here for 3 years, some of the vines are over 70 years, already they are thinking of the future and have planted some Viognier which will be hopefully ready for blending next year.
The brothers have great plans for the vineyard and surrounding area. They are to build a new Maison in the middle of the vines, 4 Gites making the most of the stunning views and a pool to relax by.
Back to the important job in hand - wine tasting!
They produce three red wines, one made 100% in stainless steel which is a lovely fresh wine with 12.5% alcohol content, makes a great easy drinking red to go with pastas and even drink by itself! The other 2 are serious reds to be enjoyed with food both matured in French Oak and lovely wines which will age well, still be drinking perfectly in 2025 and further.
We purchased samples to see how they drink in the UK and who knows we may try and add them to the list next year!
12 Sept 2019
Last visit is to Domaine Treloar in the Roussillon.
The wines from here are some of the first wines we started stocking when we commenced carte-du-vin and again the quality here is second to none.
Torq and I have stayed at the vineyard several times and it is so good to see Jonathan and Rachel the owners again.
After a good catch up we find out that here too they have started harvesting, all going well as they have a great team of workers this year. Getting good staff is always a problem as picking grapes in the heat is a back braking job and not as romantic as it sounds!
Treloar is a small concern compared with our visit this morning at Rouquette and has a very rustic feeling to the winery, however open the doors and there is state of the art equipment, their wines are again in the top range of wines we stock. Their flagship red Motus is one of our best sellers and today we sample the latest vintage - only one word delicious !
Wine purchased we leave for last trip to the store to complete the pallet.
Another morning - another day of wine tasting!
First we make our way along the A9 to Narbonne sur Mer to Chateau Rouquette, we are here to meet Jacques Boscary one of the owners he runs the vineyard and surrounding land with his son Francois.
Francois was not available to see us as the Vendage (grape picking) started this morning. Great care is taken here all grapes are picked by hand which isn’t easy as the terrain here is challenging and there is 50 hectares of vines to harvest!
The wines we buy from here are in our top range, there has been a couple of days of rain and this was welcomed as it has been very dry over the Summer, the extra water is taken up by the vine and plumps up the grapes giving more juice immediately.
Jacques has bottles ready for us to sample, new vintages are available so it is interesting to see how annual conditions make small changes to each vintage the quality is always superb and we have great fun tasting wines we are to buy and others in the range.
The tasting room is always busy with a continuous stream of customers coming in to buy wine. There is a great range available starting at €2.50 for 1ltr of Rosé (the locals arrive with plastic containers to be filled) and the top of the range is a red wine called L’Absolut price tag for this is €69, this is an amazing wine and we were so lucky - Jacques gave us a bottle to take back for the BBQ this evening.
We leave the Vineyard and go direct to the beach to find a restaurant to have a fish lunch and another glass of Rosé. It is a beautiful day today and we have a lovely lunch overlooking the blue Mediterranean.
Next stop Vinotel to drop off our purchases where the pallet is nearly full, just one further Winery to visit and our order for this area will be complete.
Wednesday and our first visit to Winery.
Chateau Spencer du Pujade, Sebastian the winemaker is waiting to great us and update us on what is happening in the vineyard. Harvest has started and the grapes for Rosé Petite Soeur are already in the tank.We sample the juice which is already a lovely salmon pink and tastes delicious, no alcohol is present as the fermentation won’t start for approximately 2 weeks.
Serious tasting required now! As always the wine is of a superior quality, there is great care taken in the production of each vintage. Sebastian overseas all processes from re planting vines to final blending of grapes. He is pleased that his eldest son has started helping in the vineyard and is looking forward to him joining the business once he has completed his university education.. We try all 7 wines made here and place our order.
A day of rest and a visit to Restaurant in the small village of Taurinya - this was fine dining and restored our faith that good food is still available in France!
Sunday morning and we leave Rioja region and start the trip to France. We make a pit stop in Zaragoza spending one night at Hotel Hiberus, a lovely modern Hotel with a great pool and our evening meal in the on-site restaurant Ciberus was delicious and very reasonable.
The next morning in the car again ‘On y va’ to France to stay with friends for 5 nights and start our visits to our Languedoc producers.
2nd day in Rioja and we visit Bodegas David Moreno, these wines were the first Spanish wines we bought to sell at carte-du-vin.
The good news is that over the years the Bodega has been renovated and wins awards each year from the Spanish Tourist Board for their informative wine tours and tasting.
In 1981 David Moreno left an engineering job in Barcelona and returned to his home village of Badarin and in 1988 the construction of the winery began.
Over the years David’s family have joined the business and his daughters both work in Badarin, David himself is still very much involved with all aspects of the running of both the Bodegas and the nurturing of the vines used to make their range of wines.
Today we were met by Raphael who is the marketing manager and we have a tasting of all the wines in the range. We normally stock the Gran Reserva but at the moment there is none available, the reason for this is that for the past few years the grapes have not been of the standard required to make this traditional wine, this demonstrates their integrity ensuring that the wine they produce is always of the highest standard.
What do we buy then?
Decision made and we went for Vobiscum - the wine with its own name! it has a similar mix of grapes to traditional Rioja wines, a mix of Tempranillo and Grenache harvested by hand from vines which are over 80 years old. This wine will be available in the UK by mid October.
Work starts today! We make our way to Rioja Alta and a new Bodegas who have approached us to start selling their wines in the UK. We were welcomed by Manuel at Bodegas Sáenz de Santamaría, he gave us a tour of the cellar and then a tasting where we sampled 3 of their premium wines - all delicious and we leave with samples to try so we can make a decision as to whether we add this Vineyard to our range.
You will see from this photo that new vines are being planted it takes at least 3 years for the grapes to be used to make wine and they will just go into Joven wines (entry level).
Arrived In Santander early evening time for quick shower and then out to find a tapas bar. On the Hotel’s recommendation we go to Restaurante Industria, it is 10:00pm the place is buzzing, the staff all great fun and the food delicious. Not only that but we enjoy a bottle of David Moreno Crianza
A slight hiccup the ferry leaves Plymouth 5 hours late! The trip is fine and a chance to relax and plan what we are going to buy this year. Obviously this is difficult as because of the present uncertainties in the UK the pound will not buy what it did last year!
Ferry booked and we start our next trip on 3rd September.
Our blog will be updated regularly so keep checking to see what we have found.
We are looking to stock a Rosé from Provence - has anyone got a favourite they would like to be able to buy in UK?
Just let us know!