Monday, July 18, 2011


Or, in California lingo, Wine Tasting.

First of all, I will not be providing wine ratings, critiques or buying advice. I don't drink wine or other alcohol, not because I dislike wine (or margaritas-on-the-rocks) or "disapprove" or anything like that. I don't drink because it makes me feel not good. And isn't it the whole point of mind altering beverages to make you feel good? I don't like feeling not good. Therefore . . .

In the spirit of conviviality and group participation, I did take tiny sips (a taste of a taste?) at the wine tastings the lavender ladies had arranged for the group. Instead of ratings, I bring you pictures, and my comments, if I have any.

Domaine Rouge-Bleu

I imagine a lot of you reading this also read French Word-A-Day, written by Kristin Espinasse, and/or Domaine Rouge-Bleu, by her husband Jean-Marc Espinasse.

We had a late Monday afternoon tasting (June 27) at Domaine Rouge-Bleu, following a morning of photographing lavender fields. Our 15 joined another smaller group which was also getting the tour and tasting. Kristin had had trepidations about such a large crowd gathering around their picnic table for 10. We were a trial run for the 47 California high school students and their prof who were due days later. See how that went here.

Here it is in pictures at -- as Kristin calls it -- the grape farm.

A view of Les Dentelles from the Espinasse grape farm

Artichokes, a bit beyond eating

The tasters gather around the picnic table.

Water is served first.

Jean-Marc arrives after saying goodbye to previous guests.
Has Amanda jumped the gun on sampling?

Kristin seems so serene in the face of the big invasion.

First flavor

Several flavors later

Here's what we tasted.  I don't remember whether the unlabeled bottle
was a mystery flavor.  Even a "taste of a taste" had me a bit buzzed.
Click photo to read what grapes are used in each type.

Sister looking pensive with hollyhocks

Andrea and Sister
Entrance to "la cave"

Jean-Marc explains process of aging
the wine in concrete tanks

Guests leave their good wishes

The well-known Smokey and mama Braise
Kristin's collectibles?

Chateauneuf du Pape, Domaine du Banneret

On June 30, we went to this small winery, owned and operated by Marie-Françoise and Jean-Claude Vidal, Jean-Marc's uncle. We tasted two different years of the wine, 2008 and older ... sometime in the 1990s. Hardy and smooth. Regarding my tasting skills, when asked to identify "what do you smell" of two different red wines during a dégustation later at language lessons, for the first I could only answer, "it smells like red wine." For the second, I answered, "this one smells like red wine, too." You may not want to consider my evaluation of the Banneret brand definitive.

Chateauneuf du Pape, Domaine du Banneret

 Jean-Claude Vidal

Jean-Claude tells us about the wine we're tasting.

Us tasting

Hand-applied label and a sale is made

Bernard Castelain, Artisan Chocolatier, Chateauneuf du Pape

That same day, we visited the chocolatier. Is it called a dégustation if you go into a big building and taste chocolates?

Bernard Castelain, Artisan Chocolatier

I do eat chocolates, so I bought these:

Pralinés Noir & Lait

It's a small box, despite how large it appears here, so I'll likely hoard it. I carried it home, not trusting it to the box of stuff (purchases and surplus things we brought with us) that Sister and I mailed home.

See you tomorrow.



  1. As usual, well written and explanatory and well as with wonderful pictures. I will refer my friends again, since I am not so good about writing

  2. Thank you, Lee. I enjoyed reliving the Lavender Ladies visit via your words. The photo souvenirs are very much appreciated. Great pics! P.S. Your group was a helpful trial run for the 47 visitors that came next. Thank you for the reference :-)

  3. Kristin, I adore the farm. I could sit at the picnic table all day, reading, writing, gazing at the mountains and vineyards. (Not the kind of guest you need with harvest ahead!)

  4. I wonder if it was your group that Kristin wrote about in her blog - which I also read. It looked familiar but of course it would! Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. wfm, did you read "Cool Raoul?" That's Kristin's story of the 47 students and Mr. Wrenn, who sat around that same table just a few days after we did. So yes, the location should look familiar in both my blog and Kristin's.