Rhone Diary: the Cruise Portion Begins

We arrived in Lyon and after a refreshing night’s sleep, we went on a guided tour of Lyon, followed by lunch at a Paul Bocuse restaurant.  Everyone raved about the dessert of meringue, vanilla ice cream, chantilly and chocolate syrup, but I personally liked the first course of salmon tartare.

We then boarded our river boat, the MS Camargue and after an overnight sailing we passed Avignon on our way to Arles. River cruises are soooo relaxing and after breakfast we lounged on the upper deck or

lunch on board MS Camargue

lunch on board MS Camargue

 

sat by the bar where all drinks are on the house. After lunch we left on our private tour of a Costières de Nimes winery that is considered one of the very best: La Terre des Chardons.

We were greeted by winemaker Olivier Zohar who obviously is very proud of the wines he has been producing over the past 8 years. Terre des Chardons has been organic since 1990 and the winery, which was started in 1999, is completely biodynamic, which means among other things they harvest by the moon, use herbs and no chemicals. And they only use natural yeast.

They produce 40-50,000 bottles on 8 hectares, or about 18 acres, with the AOC of Costières de Nimes and Clairette de Bellegarde. Olivier then served us 9 wines: Clairette d’Eté 2015, picked early and with low acidity; Clairette Traditonal 2012 which had a full body and a wonderful fruity, floral aroma with a polished finish that lingered; rosé 2015, a 50/50 blend of syrah and grenache which is as good a rosé as any you’ll find in the Rhone; Terre des Chardons ‘Bien Luné’, 2013, a 80/20 blend of grenache and syrah, a beautiful nose, high acidity and a delight to drink; Terre des

tasting at Terre des Chardons

tasting at Terre des Chardons

Chardons 2015, a closed aroma that needed time to open; Marginal 2014, a 80/20 blend of syrah and grenache, much more complex with both fruity and floral dimensions; Chardon-Marie 2014, 100% syrah which received 91 points from the Wine Advocate- only 3,000 bottles produced from a single vineyard in a terroir replete with stones; Clairette 2005 Late Harvest, so reminiscent of vin santo, luscious- and we all loved it; Clairette méthode traditionelle, a bone dry sparkling wine. All in all, a great tasting is an AOC that deserves more recognition.

In the evening we go on a guided walking tour of Arles, famous for its Roman ruins and Vincent Van Gogh.

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