Thursday, 29 April 2010

I finally left Castillon after the second day of the Grand Chai Bordeaux bottling was underway for the long but beautiful 6 hour drive across France

My destination: Tain l’Hermitage in the northern Rhone Valley.

Today I was on my way to the Rhone Valley to collect our new Chai Condrieu and Chai Côte Rôtie and bring them both safely to the Chai.

I started by firstly crossing diagonally through the Dordogne to join the A89 which takes you straight across the country and passing through the Limousin oak forests, Auvergne, Allier oak forests, skimming Clermont Ferrand and St. Etienne before turning south at Lyon and crossing the Rhone river before and down towards Valence, turning off at the village of Tain l'Hernitage and stopping in Tournon-Sur-Rhone. My accommodation for tonight is the old 'Le Chateau Hotel' opposite the infamous hill of Hermitage.

The weather was still a balmy 25 degrees at 8pm and during a walk down the Rhone riverside I suddenly stumbled across a sign pointing to the hidden 'Autrement' restaurant where a glass of cold white Crozes Hermitage and a beetroot and raspberry mise en bouche, aided by some classic Dire straits on in the background, was very welcome indeed!

Starter was a cocktail glass of frog’s thighs, carrot puree, topped with a garlic and parsley mousse and main was a superb onglet of veal (although chips were substandard and in dire need of a Castillon 'le Voyageur' lesson!) matched with one of my all time favourite wines made by Mathilde and Yves Gangloff's, their sublime, elegant and powerful 2006 'La Barbarine' Cote Rotie – nothing short of sheer brilliance in vine growing and winemaking. I just can't wait to get our Cote Rotie to the Chai (it’s too good to be true!). One of the best we've done, believe you me!

It is truly amazing how a glass of fine Rhone (or any good wine for that matter) can catapult you into such an incredible emotion and feeling, albeit more expensive but my advice is don't miss out on this experience, ever!


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