Rhône: from Lyon to Avignon
WINE, CULTURE, HISTORY
11 day immersion: October 13 - 23, 2024
Join us as we explore in detail the wines of the Rhône Valley. We start in vibrant, cool, sophisticated Lyon, the capital of Haut Cuisine. We stop in the Northern Rhône where names such as Côte Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage make us crave a glass of wine. We follow the eponymous Rhône river south to Avignon, the city that was the seat of the papacy for the better part of the 14th century. We stop in Châteauneuf du Pape. We do a side-kick to the gorgeous Dentelles de Montmirail where we find the wines of Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Séguret, and the sweet wines of Rasteau. The southern Rhône belongs to Provence. Provence: this immediately ignites a deep yearning for the fragrance coming from Lavender fields, for the special light the Impressionist artists masterfully captured in their paintings, for a very special "savoir vivre", and for the dark red, fruity, spicy wines. This year we travel during the height of the flowering season and we will experience a sea of purple Lavender fields.
- We will visit a total of 18 Domaines in well-known appellations such as Côte Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage, Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueras, etc.
- We will get intimate insights into the world of the Rhone Valley wines with visits to famous Domaines, but also to excellent lesser known and unknown producers.
- We will see the beautiful terraced vineyard sites clinging to the slopes of the steep mountains in the Northern Rhône.
- We will explore the fascinating history of the region and its importance for wine production and wine trad
- We will visit medieval villages and historic landmarks from Roman times.
- We will have meals at beautiful, quaint French village restaurants typical for the region.
- We will dine at exquisite gourmet restaurants worthy of a Michelin star.
- We will travel through incredibly beautiful landscapes, which have been made immortal by the paintings of the Impressionist artists.
- We will spend two nights over the weekend at a beautiful resort in the Alpilles, where we experience untamed nature in authentic Provence with its style and refinement.
- We will do a guided tour of the Papal Palace in Avignon.
- We will experience genuine French hospitality and the Provence "savoir-vivre".
- We will have wine pairing luncheons or dinners in an intimate setting at different Domaines which we share with the proprietors / general managers and/or winemakers.
The Rhône Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in France, and the second largest after Bordeaux. The Greeks introduced viticulture in the 4th century BC. Later the Romans came and brought viticulture to a different level. Since then the world has discovered Rhône wines and some of the most famous wines come from the Rhône Valley. The vineyards are located on both sides of the river. The Rhône Valley is divided into two distinctively different regions: the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône. The Northern Rhône stretches for 60 miles from Vienne – south of Lyon – to Valence, and produces just 5% of Rhône wines. The region has a continental climate with pronounced seasons. The soils are granitic and schistous and the vineyards are located on very steep terraced slopes. The red grape of the Northern Rhône is 100% Syrah. Depending on the appellation the red wines are often blended with 5 – 20% of the white varietals Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. As the Rhône river flows southward and the valley widens the climate changes. It becomes more Mediterranean with long, warm summers and mild winters. Here we find the big brother of the Northern Rhône, the Southern Rhône wine region which accounts for 95% of the production and with Grenache being the principal variety in most red wine blends. There also is Syrah, Mourvèdre, ( “GSM” blends) and a variety of other red and white grapes. The landscape is much flatter than in the north and a variety of soils can be found: alluvial soils, limestone subsoils, sand, gravel, stones. We will taste the entire range of Rhône wines: reds, whites, rosé, sweet, fortified wines. And of course we will have a special focus on the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape region with its very special terroir of the 'gales' huge pepples that give the soil its distinctive character. It is so difficult to choose which wine estate to visit since there are many great producers. We selected top estates of different price points, from top-rated well-known expensive wines to budget friendly, excellent, unknown wines of small producers.