OUR TRAVELS

PART FOUR

Campy parked for the night adjacent to the HQ offices of the AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape!

Social Media plays a part in the lives of most people these days, I guess. This can be a very beneficial phenomenon as well, unfortunately, as a rather unpleasant thing. Also, some of those who use Social Media can become rather obsessed with it.

Quite rightly, when I’m in danger of fitting into this last category, as I occasionally am (although my plea is that it is almost always for ‘professional’ reasons, i.e. ‘wine stuff’), Claire puts my brakes on for me. She’s usually right!

However, Social Media, does occasionally come up with some amazing ‘goods’, as it did when camped at the side of the Rhône in Avignon (please see Part Three below), I casually posted a Tweet asking if any of my wine colleagues and friends were able to recommend a winery not too far from where we were staying. A number of responses were forthcoming and overnight we had lots of options to consider.

One was particularly intriguing – a certain Monsieur Michel Blanc, Secretary (I think) of AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape asked me to e-mail him with whatever my requirements were. It seemed an offer I couldn’t refuse – there may be the possibility of learning quite a lot about the AOC in general, rather than just about one winery, as would be the case were we to visit a Domaine, in either our actual location, AOC Côtes-du-Rhône, or in that of the very nearby Chateauneuf.

In fact, as it transpired, there was the opportunity to do both.

Michel was most helpful, inviting us to taste at the AOC shop where about half of the producers exhibit their wines, which are also sold there for the same prices as if visitors were to buy from the Chateau/Domaines, and where there are always three or four Chateauneuf wines to taste, free of charge. (When you are next there you simply must go here!)

AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine shop.

He also sent me a list of wineries that would be happy to give us a tour and tasting – would I like to choose one, please? Well, there were quite a number so, to save time I simply opted for the first on the list – wow, that was a lucky choice, as you’ll see here, and in Part Five. Incredibly fortunate, to say the very least!

Michel wasn’t at all fazed by my enquiry – would it be ok to come in our campervan, park at the HQ and maybe plug in, too? It hadn’t been done before, was a little unorthodox, but was absolutely no problem, we were welcome!

We arrived in the morning to be met by the co-owner of Domaine La Célestière, one of the larger concerns of the AOC. In fact I hadn’t noticed when I’d opted, as above, for this Domaine that the owner’s name, Neil, seemed to be English. My French is dreadful, but Claire is fluent (so is Neil), and Beatrice, Neil’s wife, whom we were yet to meet, is French. Perfect. Not half – we followed Neil just outside of the city where we first laid eyes on their vineyards and then on the really beautiful winery.

Neil and Claire – not sure which language they were speaking, but the beauty of the landscape spoke volumes, in any language!

Domaine La Célestière makes mostly top class red Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but also white (sublime in my view!) and Neil kindly showed us around the whole wonderfully, wholly in-keeping restoration of the property that had started to become a little sad, as was explained.

This is what greets visitors as they enter the reception area – it shows the soils in which the vines of La Célestière are planted, particularly the famed ‘galets’, the large pebbles on the surface. These stones were deposited here millions of years ago when the whole area was submerged under the sea, and now serve as storage heaters for the vines, retaining the warmth of the daytime sunshine for slow release overnight, thus ensuring perfect ripening of the grapes!

The purpose of these Blog updates is not to rabbit on about wine, wineries etc – it’s to tell of our travels, which will of course include wine, but it’s our experiences on which I’d prefer to focus (bet you’re delighted!). So, I won’t give chapter and verse about La Célestière here. If interested in more wine detail, please click below (cool music too!)

You amy also like to visit my facebook account where you’ll be able to see last Thirsty Thursday’s Wine Review which features one on Neil and Beatrice’s wines.

I couldn’t resist this photo though – a Célestière vine which has seen more than 100 summers!

After our visit we returned to HQ where Michel led us to the official shop where he, the sommelier manager and their intern assistant talked us through some of the wines, white and red. Really fascinating!

Grenache is one of the mainstays of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

That night we had quite a haul of wonderful wines from this world-famous area of fine wine production! All these wines were so generously given us by Michel and of course, Neil. We’ve absolutely loved them.

Our visit to Chateauneuf-du-Pape was wonderful – thanks to a chance Social Media Tweet. However, when we awoke in the morning there was another fantastic surprise for us!

Please read Part Five very soon!

Thank you for your time – all comments gratefully received!

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