On my trip to Provence, we spent each day at a different location, driving out from our rented house in St. Quentin. One day we took in Chateauneuf du Pape.
The Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) is a gigantic (over 2.5 acres) complex located in Avignon, begun in the 13th century and serving as the official residence of the Catholic Pope (and anti-popes) over a two hundred year period. We did not have time to make it into Avignon, but did visit the summer home of the Pope in the village of name “new Pope’s palace” which gave name to the wines grown in this region. The home was built by Pope John XXII (sometimes referred to as an antipope since there were three competing popes in the infallible position at that time), who promoted the development of wines in this area.
The castle itself does not have any interpretive information, although a bit of advance research can help one enjoy the visit more. The views from the castles are beautiful. After touring the site, we ventured into the small town. It is a popular destination for people wanting to visit wineries, as every street featured at least one cellar with degustations, or wine tastings. We stopped at a few places, and picked up a map that gave us directions to a few of the wineries with tasting rooms and bottles for sell.
I have friends that are from the Côte-d’Or region of France who swear that Chateauneuf wines are harsh and undrinkable, and they are frequently referred to as “rustic wines” in some reviews. The area is known for its rose wines, but I think the stigma of white zinfandels, and really bad, sweet roses in the US (Mateus, anyone?), have led people to be a bit snobbish about drinking these cool, light wines. However, I found found several that I enjoy. Because of the liquor laws at Customs when returning to the US, each adult picked up only one bottle to take home.
If you are ever in this area, it’s worth a stop. Drink some wine!
- Day 5 – Avignon and the Popes’ Palace @ France (alwaystravelicious.com)
- Avignon (hikingtojupiter.typepad.com)
- Sleeping in Provence (twodifferentgirls.com)
- 2012 Thanksgiving Day Red Wine Recommendations (sports-glutton.com)