This first week without guests has been surprisingly busy with unexpected lunches, dinners, visits, rainstorms and excessive humidity.
With harvest just beginning, the winery has been buzzing with all the extra hands-on-deck to help out. So before the hard work commenced, our lovely friends Zara and Philippe hosted a fun dinner to get the season off on the right foot.
Zara and Philippe are also winemakers here in Provence (the question is, who isn’t?) and Zara has one of the most amazing palates I’ve come across. For those who not only love to drink wine but are fascinated by the mystery, the science, the agriculture and the whole process behind it, it’s impossible to ever tire of the subject. So what do a bunch of wine geeks do on a Saturday night? They throw a huge dinner party serving succulent quails and a sautée of pied-de-mouton mushrooms with a side of blind wine tasting. Casual and fun, I have to admit I don’t know too many people who would go to the trouble of arranging something as delightful as this.
The bottles were wrapped in newspaper with big numbers posted in marker; nothing fancy or ostentatious here, just a couple of pens, recycled paper for notes and a dump bucket. C’est tout! The key wasn’t to stress anyone out, simply to have a little fun—and that we did. All you had to do was taste, then note which wine was your favourite, which was your least favourite and which was the odd man out. For the most part we all came fairly close in line, but the results were fascinating.
I found that my palate certainly has consistency; the odd man out, which I chose as my least favourite just happened to be the only Bordeaux in the bunch. My palate did not betray me, as I am no Bordeaux fan. Never have been. For me the price/quality/value is just not there. One has to pay a rather large sum if they want top Bordeaux, and low-end Bordeaux is undrinkable.
So, as always, I will continue to champion the lesser-known wine regions of France. It’s no coincidence I am in Provence—my palate loves wines from here, and there are so many gems to be found! People don’t know the Ventoux region, and for the price, you can get some highly quaffable stuff. Shockingly brilliant to the point of not understanding why they haven’t garnered more attention on the world stage of wine. But they are working on it, and I will do my part to help out (both talking about it, and of course, consuming it).
It is always a soul-filling feeling to find kindred spirits in this world, and my wine making and loving friends here have introduced me to a limitless world of deliciousness. I am forever grateful. Allez Ventoux!