Rhone Diary: Aboard the MS Camargue

After a lovely, informative walking tour of Arles last evening where we saw many of Van Gogh’s favorites painting sites as well as the Roman ruins, we settled in for a nice evening’s rest. This morning after breakfast we left for a private tour in Tavel. We had to be back by 11:30am which we made with 3 minutes to spare. But it was worth the quick visit to the area acknowledged by many to produce the best rosé in all of France.

Jean-Claude Tavel winemaker

Jean-Claude,our winemaker guide in Tavel

Our appointment was at the Cave des Vignerons de Tavel where we were greeted by the cheerful Jean-Claude, one of the winemakers of the cooperative. After a great winery tour, we proceeded to the serious part of the visit: the tasting. First since we were intrigued by the gasoline pump server, we asked to try the wine that was sold in bulk to anyone who showed up with big empty containers- and for 1 euro/liter, it was not bad at all. In fact a German couple was leaving with 8 containers to bring home.

The Cave produces 2,000,000 bottles a year and is the largest Tavel winery with 65 members of the cooperative. We started with the Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2015 made from 4 grapes: grenache white, clairette white, bourboulenc and picpoul which was excellent at 5 euros/bottle! then the Lirac white 2015 with the same grapes as the Tavel white plus some viognier and roussanne, only in stainless steel- 2 euros more but a superb white wine; Lirac 2015 Cuvée Impériale, same grapes but with barrel aging- I prefered the  stainless steel version;  Tavel 2015, only stainless steel, a blend of 9 grapes: grenache red and white, cinsault, carignan, syrah, mourvèdre, clairette white and rosé, picpoul and bourboulenc; Cuvée Royale 2015 grown on alluvial stones; Lirac 2015 in stainless steel, with the same red grapes as Tavel, but no white grapes; Lirac 2015 Cuvée Impériale barrel aged, much more complex with a preponderous of syran and mourvèdre, a truly superb wine that needs some time to blossom.

After a nice relaxing lunch on board, we left for an excursion to the Ardèche mountains and a visit to the prehistoric cave Chauvet.

The Gorges of Ardèche

The Gorges of Ardèche

Pont d'Arc-Ardèc

Le Pont d’Arc


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