The week gives participants the opportunity to visit some of Provence’s best wine producers. It is suitable for wine experts as well as enthusiasts, and offers the chance to meet winemakers and discover the full universe of quality wine being made in Provence. The itinerary also includes stops at some of the region’s major sights and cities. These stops offer a pause between wine tastings and serve to deepen participants understanding of Provence, and by association its wine.
The tour leader Jamie Ivey, won the Gourmand Award 2006 Book of the Year on French wine for his travelogue – Extremely Pale Rosé. In the evenings Jamie will choose a varied wine list to accompany the meals.
Day 1 – Saturday or Sunday (check start date)
Pick up by taxi or minibus (depending on numbers) at an agreed time from either Avignon TGV or Marseille Marignane airport. You will be transferred to Chateau Constantin, located 1km outside the Luberon village of Lourmarin. The journey is an easy hour’s drive through picturesque countryside.
Upon arrival a small hamper of luxurious Provencal goodies awaits in your bedroom. The group will gather for a champagne reception followed by a gala welcome dinner.
Day 2 – The Luberon
The locals call the Luberon a corner of paradise. It’s not hard to understand why: – there are countless picturesque villages; numerous vineyards producing sumptuous wines; olive groves that stretch for miles; cherry orchards which produce snow storms of blossom in Spring and rolling mountains stretching away towards the Alps.
We will visit the corkscrew museum and enjoy a tasting at Domaine de La Citadelle near Menerbes before heading on to visit the village of Roussillon, famed for its red soil. Local legend has it that a jilted lover threw herself from a cliff and her blood stained the soil for miles around. On our way back to Lourmarin we will stop outside Bonnieux for a tasting at Chateau Canorgue, the setting for the Ridley Scott film “A Good Year” staring Russell Crowe.
Early evening Jamie will lead a rosé tasting of Provence’s finest pinks based on his three award winning books on the subject.
Day 3 – Avignon and Chateauneuf du Pape
Next up is Avignon and one of the sights of Provence – the Palais des Papes. Built in under 40 years this gothic monolith inspires awe and reverence. Adding a touch of humour to the visit Provence Guru groups are advised to read Alphonse Daudet’s short story – The Pope’s Donkey, before the visit. It gives a wonderful insight into the world of the Avignon Popes.
In the afternoon we will head to Chateauneuf du Pape for a wine tasting and to explore the village.
Day 4 – Aix en Provence and the Coteaux d’Aix en Provence
A highlight of the tour is our visit to Aix en Provence. Known as the Paris of the south, an enjoyable day can easily be spent people watching from the cafe terraces and indulging in a little retail therapy. Jamie will share his love of the city in a brief orientation tour. After a quick lunch in the city we will head out into the countryside to visit some of the region’s top vineyards.
Day 5 – Saint Remy and Les Alpilles
Outside the town of Saint Remy we will visit one of the region’s top natural wine producers – Domaine Milan. The vineyard is biodynamic and eschews all use of chemicals. Afterwards we will explore the delightful town of Saint Remy. On the way back to Lourmarin we will enjoy an olive oil and wine tasting at one of Les Alpilles’ finest wineries Domaine de La Vallongue.
Day 6 – Cassis and Les Calanques
We will head for the glittering Mediterranean and the charming port of Cassis. Before lunch we will visit Domaine Paternel, the most respected producer of the region’s stellar white wine. Afterwards we will split up to explore the port and have lunch. Enthusiasts of seafood should not miss the opportunity to try Provence’s famed Bouillabaisse fish soup. Regrouping in the afternoon we will stop for another tasting on the way back to Lourmarin.
Returning to the Chateau we will enjoy a special gourmet truffle evening, with delicacies such as truffle pizza, and cheese laced with truffles. Based on his book about training my dog to find truffles Jamie will share the secrets of truffle hunting in Provence with the group.
Day 7 – Lourmarin market
A tour of Provence would not be complete without taking in one of the region’s famous markets. Fortunately our home village Lourmarin hosts one of the largest and best Provencal markets. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up some gifts to take home.
The afternoon is free. Guests can choose to relax by the pool, play tennis, go for an e-bike ride or take part in a Provencal cookery course. Two additional wine experiences are available : A tour and tasting of great wines from around the world at Domaine de La Cavale, and/or a tour of the cave of Rhone wine negociant Laurent Tardieu. The last evening will begin with Provencal aperitifs such as pastis, rinquinquin and of course rosé. For those feeling sporty there will be a boule competition. Afterwards we will enjoy a BBQ.
Day 8 – Depart
Farewell. Transfer to Avignon TGV or Marseille Marignane airport