Lucky us, we will be traveling for almost all of October in the wine country of France and Spain. We have rented a house for a week in both the Rhone Valley and the Languedoc region of France. Then we’ll head to Barcelona and join a group of wine bloggers for a press trip to the Monstant and the Priorat wine regions of Spain. We’ll end our trip at the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Logroño, Spain, the land of Rioja wines.
After landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Thursday, we did something that worked out very nicely. We thought that it would be better to begin our wine country journey as rested as possible. After landing we decided to stay at a nearby airport hotel, the Best Western. A shuttle bus at Terminal 2 F (rail station) to Paris takes travelers free of charge to all of the nearby hotels. Our hotel was just a couple of miles away in the small French town of Roissy. We were able to walk to local restaurants, dine, drink wine, and get a full night’s sleep. Getting a rental car and finding one’s way out of a maze of roads is much easier when well rested.
We picked up our rental car and traveled to Beaune for one night. Beaune is just about halfway between Paris and our rental home in the Rhone Valley in the town of Vaison La Romaine. We should spend more time in Beaune, perhaps on our next trip to France. In Beaune, the day was very gloomy with overcast skies and constant rain. We spotted a small amount of harvesting in the vineyards. The proprietor at a wine shop in Beaune told us that what is left to pick are just a few good grapes. 90% of the crop was lost earlier in the summer when a huge hailstorm hit the area. 2012 was also a very bad year, and two years in a row is devastating to less-established wineries in Burgundy.
While staying in Vaison La Romaine, we have appointments at several Rhone Valley wineries that are about an hour or less in driving time north and south of our home base. We are very excited about these visits.
The second week we will be at a home in the small village of Caunes-Minervois. We stayed there for a couple of nights in 1994 and loved the charming town and surrounding area. We ate at a spectacular restaurant at the Hotel D’alibert. The place is still there and operated by the same family. We are hoping the restaurant is as good as it was in 1994. In the Languedoc, we do not have any winery appointments. Instead, we will be adventurous and scout the nearby wineries. The person who we are renting the home from in Caunes says that many small and interesting wineries are open without an appointment each day of the week, except for Sundays. Languedoc has changed a great deal since our visit in 1994 in terms of wine quality. Many wineries have recharged their vineyards and several young winemakers have moved into the area, bringing modern winemaking techniques to this traditional wine region. The prices of Languedoc wines remain reasonable and we are very excited about being able to explore this vast region that contains more vineyard land than any other wine region of France. We hope to be able to visit O’Vineyards, having met winemaker Ryan O’Connell in 2011 at the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Italy.
We will return our rental car at the Narbonne train station and then board a non-stop train to Barcelona. There we will meet our press trip host and the other wine bloggers for a three-night adventure to wineries in the Monstant and Piorat regions. This part of the trip is a very rare opportunity to get acquainted with the fantastic wines from this region. This will be a small group of 18 wine bloggers who get an intense look at both of these wine regions that are making amazing strides in wine quality and production.
The final leg of our trip is the 6th annual European Wine Bloggers Conference, now renamed the Digital Wine Communication Conference. Wow, I love that title. It’s much more impressive than Wine Bloggers. At any rate, we are expecting to have an exciting and educational time that began in Beaune and will end in Logroño, Spain. Please stay tuned to our adventures in the days ahead.