He had me at moped and wine…and lunch clinched the deal. My husband has been throwing about the idea of a moped wine tour for a bit, and just came upon an ad for Real adventure in the Ventoux vineyards!
Husband from this point on may be referred to as Le Grand Patron as we are trying out nom de guerres for him. Today he feels like the big boss, which I guess makes me La Petite Patron, but we’ll see, it may just be his unrivaled success in planning this adventure…now back to the wine story.
Le Patron had us up early today to reach
Cave TerraVentoux in Villes sur Auzon by 9 am for our mythical ride on an E-Moped. As it turned out, there were a group of people signed up today and the transportation of choice was electric-bikes, which I found are just as wonderful as mopeds, especially in the hilly Mount Ventoux terrain after tasting generous glasses of wine.
After being sized up for bicycles and meeting our delightful guides, Ann, Suzy, Gabrielle and Tomas, we were off as a group of about a dozen, or douzaine as they say.
The first stop was a cherry farm (ferme cerise) where we liberally tasted ripe cherries off the trees and met the farmer and his quality control staff. Each cherry is hand picked off the trees and sorted for quality. There has been a lot of rain lately and not enough wind, resulting in the cherries cracking a bit. So these sweet cerises were available for us to munch as much as we desired, since they would not make it to market.
Back on the bikes, we cycled higher to Flassan, a quiet little village of about 400 inhabitants. By now it was late morning and time for our first tasting which was a feast for the eyes as well as the tongue. Tomas was waiting for us and had set up the glasses at the village fountain. This stop we tasted Terres De Truffles by Terraventoux, along with an amuse bouche of slivers of soft bread topped with fromage chèvre and Acacia honey drizzle. Delicious!
Terres De Truffles is of the AOC Ventoux classification and made with Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Viognier grapes. Impressive information, right? That’s because it was so good, we bought a couple bottles and I can read the label here in the comfort of our home away from home.
On we cycled in the shadow of Mount Ventoux, which if you are familiar with Tour de France, is a very high and difficult mountain stage and usually alternated in the Tour with Alpes D’Huez on one of the mountain days.
We stopped here and there for lessons on agriculture and discussed the winemaker’s co op which includes approximately 600 hectares of vines. Eventually we found ourselves stopping in a small sandy clearing in a cutout of a vineyard. Everyone was instructed to lock their bikes to each other’s, so we had a mass of a dozen bicycles attached. No one was leaving this party if anyone lost their key. We hiked down a leafy sandy path, over tree limbs and rocks, where the sand reminded us of the Roussillon ocre. Soon we found ourselves in a clearing where Tomas was again waiting for us with another picnic table covered with delights.
We found four more TerraVentoux wines, a Rosé and 3 reds, as well as jambon, saucisses, local artisinal pâtes, four cheeses, and more cherries…oh my. Only chocolat was missing from this feast.
The reds were light for pairing with summer foods and whereas I mostly turn to whites, I thoroughly enjoyed the red tastings and Le Patron picked up a bottle of his favorite, Château Bonadona 2012, which is a Grenache-Syrah. While the tour was mainly in French as the other guests were Swiss, Tomas and Gabrielle both spoke excellent English and would stop here and there to speak with us about other topics. Tomas is an intern with the winery and working on his Masters in Hospitality, so we discussed sustainable tourism. The canyon where we had our picnic was on private vintner property. It was carved by a stream running through the ocre sand over time and then the stream was diverted for agriculture, leaving the canyon in it’s wake. Unfortunately, tourists and local youth have carved and defaced the walls, but rather than closing it to the public, the owner wants to leave it open for people to enjoy walking through the cool shade as he remembers doing in his youth. After a lovely hour where we socialized with the other guests, we reluctantly trooped back up the path to sort out the transportation. This is where the electric bikes were most welcome as we still had quite a few hills to climb before finding our way back to the cave and wine shop. It was a relaxed drive back home through the winding road, full of sun, wine, and the good life.
C’est tout! Well done my Grand Patron.