On The Rhone Again

I awoke excitedly on my creaky futon and well-worn pillow. Today was the day I visit Domaine Tempier. Glorious sunshine, not too hot and the promise of a breakfast facing the Mediterranean spurred me on to the town again before I headed for the Rhone Valley.

A lovely croissant from a bakery that had people streaming in and out its tight door way then a choose your own adventure cafe au lait. The Melbourne hipsters didn’t invent the deconstructed coffee, they just got more social media coverage for it.

Coffee in Bandol before heading to Rhone Valley

There was a market in the morning.

Why does Melbourne not have a Monday morning Market like this? Fresh fruit everywhere! MORE STRAWBERRIES and some apples.

A walk home along the water front in the warming day. This is taking longer than I mean because I am munching on local strawberries. I did have to stop to dip my arm into the disappointingly icy water that was at stark contrast to my sweaty brow.  It did mean I am late for my rendezvous with my Air BnB host who offers to pick me up when I say I am somewhat lost.

Time to go explore the region.

It was hinted at when I arrived yesterday, but confirmed when I went off the main drag; Bandol roads are not designed to accommodate 9 seat vans. Without too many life threatening incidents I made it to Domaine Tempier. The road in is lined with chunky bush vines. Their stunned height made them look immature but robust body gave a very different impression.

The tasting was drastically short. Rose, one of the best in the world. Classique – The red wine blended from across the Estate was charming but very young. No Cru wines were available for tasting. And because I have to drive we agreed that a sniff of the 70 percent alc/vol Marc was all I really need. I did beg permission to buy some of the Cru wines. 2013 for Rory’s birth year and another for one of my customers who stayed in Lyon. My allocation is only one bottle. Booooo!

More winding through the economic Bandol carriage ways to see the vines and the producers and a brief stop at Gros Nore, which seemed over run by large canines. I can find no evidence of human occupation. I leave before I share their fate.

Having abated my curiosity, if not actually satisfied it. I left town.

It was back to being harassed by the famous Rhone winds known as the mistral on the payage. I am now happy to stop to pay for the privilege of driving on these pristine roads. Especially when I realise it is the only way to get rid of my hefty coin collection.

Arriving in the fortified town of Avignon, in the heart of the Rhone, where I was spending the night the first challenge was to find a van park. It became apparent there was no car access to the part of town I was staying so I went further afield. Then further still, then I went half way back to Bandol then I pulled over and swore. Then I re-gathered my wits and determined to make it work I found a spot inside the walls. It was a nice long walk to drag my now (over) full bags.

With that ordeal I gave myself the day off. Especially because I was not at all interested in moving my van from the only spot inside the walls.

Lunch at a hipster cafe with a lovely quiche and more salad than three people could eat. Paired with a Grenache that was exactly what I wanted. Light in colour, perfumed, spicy, sweet herbs, red and blue fruits. Gorgeous.

Walking around the town because I didn’t have enough Euro for the novelty train ended with a tour of the Palace of the Pope was mind-boggling. The scale they worked on was obscene. My waving out the window where the new Popes were ordained had definitely never been done before.

Dumped out in a back alley I found myself lost and walked out of the walls into the most horrible wind. Luck I wasn’t driving in that.

My rambling led me back to a wine bar I’d wandered past before and I felt compelled to stop.

A tasting of the Rhone reds conducted by a Parisian who had seen the light. It involved cheese, salumi and a lot of great local knowledge. The show was well worthy my time and as a reward I bought a few bottles.

Cheese, baguettes, an enjoyable night in and an early night. Until my family want to chat on skype.

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