There are weekends where nothing much happens, when the highlight is having a snooze with the bed-warmer on, and there are weekends when things to do come along like a queue of buses.
This last weekend, my DB and I got to use a Groupon coupon. If you've ever bought a Groupon coupon for a service and ended up not using it, you'll know that this was a feat. It was for a visit and dégustation
at Chateau Vallourbière
near Gignac about half an hour up the autoroute. We had to be there at 11am sharp which, for the south of France is a bit of a shock as no one turns up anywhere until at least 15 mins after the allotted time!
|B&B rooms, jacuzzi in mini chalet|
It was a bit of a challenge finding it and being on time as the place is not on the GPS and we had to call to fine-tune directions from the village of St Jean de Fos nearby. We made it on the dot! It was a chilly day but not without bursts of sun, all the better to appreciate the pale honey stonework of the new buildings. The owners, Gil and Joss Greaux, with their son Nicolas, make wine but also have available eight B&B rooms, pool, fitness centre and all mod cons. They bought the 10 hectares of vines only in 2007 on a building-free plot so have created the whole glorious place from scratch.
|Vines and view from bedrooms|
We found it a strange thing to do as a retirement project... Gil had been a very successful artist living in St Barts, but got itchy feet so decided to come back to France and take on a new challenge. As challenges go, this has to be up there with the most exhausting! Especially as everything is done to a high standard. The rooms are stylish, the winery is state of the art, and the wine has been winning first prizes at the major wine competitions in France and abroad! All since 2007!
|Garden and main house, pool on roof|
|Dining room décor|
|Dining room air-conditioned cave|
Joss cooks a table d'hote
every evening in her state of the art open-plan kitchen/dining room created specifically for the guests (I wanted that kitchen!). On one side is a room of barrels in front of a fresco probably painted by Gil, and next to it is a coolly stylish cave.
|Barrels of resting red|
One of the most glamorous wines I've ever seen was the magnum of rosé with gold pepites. When you turn the bottle upside down they danced about in the liquid catching the light and creating an immediate party ambiance.
|Rosé with pepites of gold!|
The man himself takes visitors around the winery where you can see the amazing state of the art equipment, hear how they cut the vine severely of branches so all its energy is concentrated into growing fewer but better quality grapes. They take the whole wine-making process seriously and have gone to extremes to create the means to make excellent wine. The investment in money, time and huge amounts of energy has paid off. The B&B rooms are always full, and locals buy 80% of their production.
Gil's paintings are all over the walls. The stylised horse was one of my favourites. We tasted the whole range of wine and found we liked best one of the reds, a rosé and a sparkling méthode champenoise
flavoured with grapefruit zest.
|Gil Greaux and his artwork both liquid and solid|
As part of the coupon, we got 20% off the price of the bottles, plus a free bottle, and if we bought two cases (of 6) we got one case free which brought the price down in total by 50%! The rosé (sans pepites) ended up costing only €7 a bottle. We are going to enjoy ourselves next summer!
After we'd loaded the car with our precious cargo, we headed off to the village for a hearty baguette sarnie in the local bar, then went to Le Pouget to look at a motorbike which turned out to be crap. As we left, I spotted a sign to a dolmen
and suggested we go and have a look. We bumped the car along the track instead of walking because that's the sort of lazy buggers we are and there was no sign specifically forbidding vehicles (what is not forbidden is permitted said my DB...)... and ended up at a gorgeous spot with stupendous views of the valley and Larzac plateau (and Chateau Vallourbiere).
|Prehistoric dolmen entrance|
Our ancestors knew how to pick a pretty spot to bury their dead!
|Inside the dolmen burial chamber|
It can't be dated precisely as there were no remains found, but it's believed to have been built about 3000 years BC. The burial chamber faces west so it catches the rays of the setting sun, symbol of the end of life.
|View of Le Pouget GoldenGate bridge|
Our day ended with a friend's house-warming party for which I made some mini leek tarts when we got back from our trip. You see what I mean about back-to-back activities?
You managed to use a Groupon! Chapeau!ReplyDelete
There's a dire mix of rose and grapefruit going around my old area at the moment...your methode chamenpoise sounds a lot better...
And I'm a great fan of dolmens...
Yes! We have missed the deadline for several restaurant coupons and here they don't reimburse you!! Buggers.Delete
The sparkling wine was flavoured with zest of the fruit which of course is much nicer than 'grapefruit flavouring'. I forgot to mention that the whole domain is organic.
This looks like the perfect getaway. The wine and scenery and accommation all met up to expectations. Thanks for sharing. I have just joined Groupon.ReplyDelete
Yes, this would make a perfect get-away. Good luck with Groupon! :)Delete
What a very nice trip out! Oenology and archaeology in the same day. :-)ReplyDelete
Yes, it was super. A lovely full day. :)Delete
I love the look of the B&B - did you see any of the rooms?ReplyDelete
Great bargain on the wine - successful weekend all in all?
Very successful, and the rooms were very swish inside. You'd love it, I'm sure Trish. Every thing has been done with taste and and style to a high standard to complement the wine. What's not to like! :)Delete
How beautiful it is there.ReplyDelete
Isn't it? And especially so in Autumn with all the colours so dazzling in the sun.Delete
Oh that looks stunning, what gorgeous photos, still looks very golden and green combined there - no snow yet. That's funny you have Groupons over there, last Groupon thing we did with friends was a terrible terrible comedy night, so bad I was glad I went!ReplyDelete
Groupon is everywhere now! I have mixed feelings about it, but his was a fab coupon. We did have a few snow flakes last week but they didn't settle. We don't get Groupon coupons for shows here, more's the pity.Delete
Love the horse painting too! If I attempted something that (ostensibly) simple it would end up looking like a 5 year old's scrawl! Wine looks good too!ReplyDelete
You need a steady hand and a good eye to produce such flowing lines I'm sure. The deceptively simple is always the hardest to get right! Wine was good. :)Delete
Looks to me like you were in wine heaven!ReplyDelete
What a fantastic place! I shamefully admit that I have never used Groupon...My father is a wine grower and I have always wanted to do what ill and Joss did. Maybe a retirement project?ReplyDelete
If you enjoy a lot of hard work... lovely! :)Delete
Groupon can be a good way of doing something or getting something cheaply, but you can live perfectly happily without it. :)
one of the better uses of a Groupon I would say..ReplyDelete
I definitely agree with you there, David!Delete
I'll be checking out that dolmen, it'll keep PF quiet for an afternoon :-) I love that bridge.ReplyDelete
Isn't it cool that it's red? I love that little touch. :)Delete