Monday, June 6, 2011

06.06.11 Mont Ventoux, a cycling mecca; Beaumes de Venise, Vacqueyra, wine heaven


06.06.11 Mont Ventoux – Beaumes de Venise – Vacqueyras
Just finishing off a basic Cabernet, quite a nice one by the way, from La Citadelle. That’s the end of the day.

Hard going. More pics here
But let me tell you about the start, not quite the start maybe, I do keep some things to myself, but a sunny midi-morning found us on the way to Malaucene, a little town at the foot of Mont Ventoux (1912m), the windy mountain, best known to us in Ireland as a stage finish in the Tour de France.
As we began to climb from the town, the temperature began to plummet, a degree for every ten cyclists we passed. By the time, we reached the famous summit, it had dropped from 22 degrees to six and visibility was poor because of fog and rain. But that did nothing to dampen the spirit of the bikers, young and old, who’d made it to the summit.
Luckily we parked right alongside the summit marker and took a picture there as did all the cyclists. Bought a souvenir or two in the shop and headed back down through the mist and fog, all the while the valleys below enjoying the sunshine. We stopped and took a few photos on the day down.
From Malaucene, we took a beautiful country road through the vineyards to Beaumes de Venise, passing close to the mountains called the Dentelles (lace). Could perhaps have sought out the Cooperative but settled for the shop of Domaine des Richard in the centre of the hamlet where a lady, with two year’s English, took great care of us.
Her tasting samples were generous to say the least and we left well stocked with the famous fortified sweet wine called Beaumes de Venice and also the producers’ own Plan de Dieu, a lovely red.
Just a few kilometres up the road, we called to Vacqueyras. Oh. Forgot to say it but the sun was out down in the valley all along and temperatures were in the mid 20s and the day bright. Not so here. Hot for sure but it was almost dark in the middle of the village where the plane trees meet and provide a natural umbrella for those imbibing in the cafes.
Here, we found the shop of Chateau Montmirial. Not quite the same rapport here as earlier. They produce Gigondas, Cotes du Rhone and Vacqueyras. It was the latter we were after. The tasting sample was fine and we went off with a pack of Cuvee des Saints Papes!
Temperatures hit 26 degrees on the way home past Avignon and were still high at the gite where we dined on the terrace. Tip: if you are travel up a mountain in summer, make sure you have loads of tee shirts and a windbreaker. On the way up, add a tee-shirt as necessary and reverse the process on the way down!