Written by Tom Innes of Fingal Rock Wines www.pinotnoir.co.uk
We overslept the next morning. Our appointment with Thierry Coulomb was at 9.00 a.m. We arrived nearly half an hour late. Monsieur Coulomb didn’t seem to mind. He had put out two plates of fougasse for us to nibble on while tasting, one with minced pork in it, and one with olives. Fougassz is a sort of French version of focaccia, but thinner, and a bit crispy. We tasted the new vintages (not yet bottled) of his Viognier, Sauvignon, and rosé “Fanny”. All fresh, clean and delicious.
We then hurried off to see the Fabre family at Domaine des Romarins, a few miles west of Avignon, where they were busy bottling their Viognier – too busy, unfortunately, to give us lunch, because Mme. Fabre is a brilliant cook. We tasted their 2016s and 2017s, both lovely vintages.
Our next appointment was at the foot of Mont Ventoux, near Carpentras, at two o’clock. We had thrown the new wheel into the back of the van in Montpellier the day before because we were running so late. Now we had a little bit of time in hand, and I had a moment to swap the spare for the new wheel. I got the jack out and swapped over the wheels. We also had a picnic for lunch.
Domaine Vintur, at the foot of Mont Ventoux, was bought by an Englishman, Graham Shore, eight years ago, when he set about restoring the run-down estate. He installed James Wood, a no-nonsense Yorkshireman who clearly likes a good lunch. We were given a fascinating tour of the winery, showing us what they have done, and what their plans are. We tasted from tank and barrel. And then we tasted from the bottle three whites and eight reds. A delightful range – all understated, with flavours that grow on you: the more you taste, the more you discover in the wines.
We said our goodbyes and hurried off to Gigondas to collect an order from Domaine Raspail-Ay before heading north to spend the night at a restaurant which also has rooms, La Beaugravière in Mondragon. After that we did our visits in the Beaujolais, Burgundy and Champagne before motoring through blizzards in northern France on our way home.
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