While our ship was docked in Avignon, Viking organized an afternoon tour to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region, known in France as one of the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) regions. Here, in one of the hottest wine regions in France, you get wines with wonderfully warm and spicy aromas such as cinnamon, cloves, and freshly roasted coffee.
Vines Waiting For Warmer Weather
The vines are pruned for removal of the unwanted wood. For those of you who do not understand why the vines are pruned, we suggest that you visit Pruning Grapeviness for a short explanation of why it is necessary.
Rocks In The Vinyard?
The only purpose for those rocks is to keep the heat in the ground! The stones attract heat during the day, and the soil is therefore kept warmer at night.
Tour Bus in Vineyard
It was a bit brisk this particular day, but still an interesting view of a vineyard in the winter. The vines are left dormant until Spring.
Those are the (in the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains) and Mont Ventoux (just to the east of the Dentelles de Montmirail), as we looked east from the vineyard.
As shown in the above images, the vineyards are distinctively rocky, and these rocks are useful to the vines because they keep the daytime heat "in" the soil for a longer period of time, which keeps the roots warm overnight. This entire area has a unique clay sub-structure, and the combination of the heat retaining rocks, on top of this clay structure, produces a unique variety of grapes.
Stunning Wine Barrel
Have you ever wondered what 7,000 liters of wine would look like? In the image to the left, I am
standing next to a barrel that contained that much Grenache!
In this area of the winery, there were another 15 of these barrels, each full of wine.
Castle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
In 1317, one year after his election, Pope John XXII ordered the construction of a castle
at the top of the hill above the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The castle was destroyed by the German
Army, as it retreated from this area in August 1944.
Click here to read a good Wiki Article about this castle.
The Chateauneuf-du-Pape village center, looking north. We were wandering about the village, and because it is very small, there wasn't much there to look at more closely.
Walking down to the Village
Taking a break before continuing down the very steep walkway. I could not keep myself from wondering how many people may have taken a tumble down these stairs after too much wine?
The fountain in the center of the village was pretty, and a natural gathering place for the entire village. All of us felt like we were in a Medeival Village!
A quick break from all of our Village exploration, before we head back up the hill to the tour bus.
Wine Tasting Class
Celeste and I are learning about the famous wines grown in this area. Touristy? Yeah, but the guy
knew his wines, and the area's history, so in the end it was well worth the experience.
When you become aware that there are over 320 wine companies in this region, you realize how important these vineyards are.
Did I mention the types of wine grapes grown in this area? We had been told at the wine tasting, but when I Googled it, I was amazed at how many types are grown in this region. I've provided you with a link to the "Wine Searcher" website for each wine, because if you are interested in wine like I am, you will want to know more about these types. Whenever "Wine Searcher" did not have information on a type, I've linked it to Wiki or "Wine Folly". Click any grape name below to be taken to a page that will provide you with an in depth description.
One Must Swish Each Taste
Doing the obligatory swishing of the wine, preparing for my next bite of cheese.
Anyone can taste wine the 'Wine Folly' website tells us, all you need is a glass of wine and your brain and follow these 4 steps;
1) Look: A visual inspection of the wine under neutral lighting
2) Smell: Identify aromas through orthonasal olfaction (e.g. breathing through your nose)
3) Taste: Assess both the taste structure (sour, bitter, sweet) and flavors derived from retronasal olfaction (e.g. breathing with the back of your nose)
4) Think/Conclude: Develop a complete profile of a wine that can be stored in your long term memory.
- The Viking Lyon & Provence Cruise Overview & Guide Our Viking River Cruise from Marseilles to Lyon, north on the Rhône River with various ports of call, click here to read more.
- Avignon, France The first stop as we head up the Rhône River, click here to read more.
- Arles, France The town of Arles is a community situated in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the south eastern area of France. click here to read more.
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France While docked in Avignon, Viking organized an afternoon tour to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region, known in France as one of the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) regions. click here to read more.
- Tournon-sur-Rhône, France The Viking Heimdal cast off at 4AM to continue north on the River Rhône, to Tournon - set to arrive at 1PM. This was the longest leg of the cruise, it is approximately 150 kilometers from Avignon to Tournon. click here to read more.
- Vienne, France Vienne is a commune in southeastern France, located 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Lyon, on the river Rhône. It is only the fourth largest city in the Isère department, of which it is a sub-prefecture, but was a major center of the Roman Empire. click here to read more.
- Lyon, France The ship arrives in Lyon at 3PM, and we initially tied up at the Quai Claude Bernard - the eastern side of the Rhône River. This is a very scenic location, adjacent to the Université Lumière Lyon and only 2.2 kilometers from the Place des Terreaux. click here to read more.
- Perouges, France The optional free bus tour to Perouges departs at 2PM today, and we drive through some really beautiful countryside on the way there. The La Dombes district is where fish are raised in a series of 1,200 ponds. Click here to read more.
- Our Thoughts on Viking River Cruises Our perspective on Viking River Cruises, plus a few pros & cons to consider. Click here to read more.
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