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A magical place to discover in Villeneuve-Lez-Avignons: the Abbey of Saint-André and its gardens2019/3/2

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“The royal Benedictine Abbey of Saint-André welcomes visitors to its magnificent terraced gardens and abbatial palace. A rare place that harmoniously combines the art of gardens with a mosaic of the heritage and rich history of the Languedoc and Provence regions since the 6th century

The history of the Abbey:

Classified as a National Heritage Site (« Monument Historique » since 1947, the Abbey of Saint-André and its gardens have ties to many historical periods. From its beginnings as a modest hermitage in the 6th century, it grew to play a role in international history with its most glorious periods in the 13th and 14th centuries.

 

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Mount Andaon’s elevation of 68 meters (223 feet) and its location on the right bank of the Rhone River give the site a strategic geographical position probably envied since Gallo-Roman times.

The gardens: 

Classified among the most beautiful in France, the Abbey’s gardens unfold with old roses, Mediterranean natives, and olive and pine trees more than a century old among the remains of Romanesque style churches and tombs dating as far back as the 6th century. At the foot of the abbatial palace lies a parterre garden in 16th century Tuscan style adorned with ponds, vases and sculptures, and bordered by a pergola covered with wisteria and roses. From the heights of Mount Andaon, these terraced gardens offer panoramic views of the Popes’ Palace in Avignon across the Rhone River.

 

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The Abbatial Palace:

Both a spiritual and a strategic site, the Abbey has an extensive history. Originally the retreat of a woman named St. Casarie, then a Benedictine monastery, Saint-André became a royal Abbey in the 13th century, overseeing 211 priories nearby. Restored at the end of the 17th century by the King’s architect Pierre Mignard, the abbatial palace has retained its elegantly vaulted rooms, grand entry doors and monumental staircase.”

 

On view from March 1st until April 28th: the exhibition « Herbier d’Azur » of Gabrielle de Lassus S.G.   Open every day from 10am to 1pm & 2pm-5pm

Address: Abbaye Saint-André – Fort Saint-André, Montée du Fort, 30400  Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon

Informations from: http://www.abbayesaintandre.fr

 

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CARIGNAN: a secondary grape variety used in Rhône & Provence2019/2/21

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Origin:
Carignan is a grape variety that originally comes from Spain, more specifically Aragon. In the 12th century, it was introduced into southern France where, on the shores of the Mediterranean, it has thrived, from both an agronomic and climatic standpoint.

Aromas:
Most of the time, wines made with Carignan have notes of spices and especially ripe fruits (namely prune), blackberry or black cherry. After ageing in oak barrels, these are accompanied by hints of toasted bread, grilled almonds or leather.

Wines produced:
Carignan has a high potential for acidity, and average potential for sugar content and color, especially when harvested in high yields. By controlling yield, however, we can obtain wines that are less acidic, more concentrated and thus better balanced. In this case, the tannins are softer and less herbaceous. Carbonic maceration is a winemaking technique that enables these characteristics to be easily improved. The wines thus become smoother and fruitier. Wines made from old vines, on the contrary, are often of great quality – powerful and full-bodied – thanks to their low yield.

 

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Areas planted:
Carignan is an exclusively Mediterranean variety.
Côtes du Rhône red and rosé (30 % maximum of total grape varieties), Côtes du Rhône Villages rouges et rosés (20 % maximum of total grape varieties), Costières de Nîmes, Luberon, Ventoux.

Used for red, rosé wines.


Spice up your Valentine’s day!2019/2/6

One of our favorite red wine and chocolate pairing: Gigondas and dark chocolate.
It’s not a secret, red wine rocks chocolate!
Concentrated, balanced, refined: Gigondas wines offer a rich bouquet with fine, spicy aromas, and a sun-drenched colour that ranges from ruby to dark red.
Its terroir is so complex that it can produce a range of aromas that goes from fruity aromas of prunes and figs, to white pepper, scrub, thyme, and liquorice. It ages well and becomes more refined over time.

There is something irresistible about a chocolate vibe in a red wine – and you’ll know it when you taste it.
As for the chocolate, we recommend intense, dark chocolate, at least 60%. It’s not so sweet as milk chocolate and just dances better with the reds.

Chocolate deposits a fine film on the palate which to some extent neutralises the tannins in the wine, it’s very appealing.

Dark chocolate goes perfectly with our dry red wines from the Rhône Valley. Very tannic and powerful, red wines have to find a balance with the bitterness and the great organoleptic complexity of cocoa.

One of the grape varieties present in the wines of the Rhône Valley and a friend of dark chocolate, is undoubtedly Grenache. As he ages, he develops a spicy nose (nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla), Garrrigue but especially, torrefaction notes that flatters the flavors of chocolate.

 

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Try your own wine/chocolate pairing for Valentine’s day with Gigondas 2014 red Daumen!

 

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http://shop.avin.jp/?pid=126812755


The story behind Daumen’s wines2019/2/1

 

The wines that fall under the name Daumen are from Jean-Paul Daumen’s negociant operation. Some of them actually emerge from estate fruit that he had declassified from his vineyards.

 

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They are limited production, but exceptionally impressive cuvees. Daumen is one of the most meticulous viticulturists and winemakers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

 

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3 ideas behind the wines:

-To differentiate his different parcels. Clavin/Trois Sources/Hauts Lieux are the historical plots of Domaine de la Vieille Julienne. Daumen’s grandfather inherited them from his mother, Julienne.
Other small plots were divided into her nine other children.
5 years ago Jean-Paul Daumen could buy four more ha behind his house.
Other plots were also bought back from some members of his family :
« Lieu dit Maucoil » 1km away, grapes used to produced Daumen Côtes-du-Rhône and IGP Orange vin de pays and 2ha of Châteauneuf-du-Pape on « Plateau de Beaucastel »
The idea was to make a second brand rather than a « second wine ».
To have two different productions with two different styles but with the same winemaker behind.

-The second reason was also an opportunity.
Three former employees purchased their own vineyards in Rasteau, Gigondas and Lirac.
Jean-Paul Daumen wanted to give them his financial support and share his know-how.
Therefore the deal was to buy a part of their harvest in order to help them later to develop their own wine

-The third reason was to develop a range of wine with more accessible prices. Because the winemaker could predict that the production of Domaine de la Vieille Julienne wines will decrease and prices will rise due to climate change.
In order to have wines not too inaccessible for a part of his costumers.

 

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Daumen’s Côtes-du-Rhône, IGP Orange vin de pays and Châteauneuf-du-Pape were launched in 2009.
In 2010 he bought grapes in Gigondas and Lirac.
Gigondas was produced until 2014 but after the producer stopped to sell out a part of his harvest to keep it only for his own wine.
Lirac: stoped also from 2013.

 


Discussing 2018 weather conditions with Jean-Paul Daumen, Domaine de La Vieille Julienne2019/1/31

 

In 2018 70% of the harvest was lost in one day, on the June 11th. The most impacted areas were the ones surrounding the cellar (Lieu dit Clavin).
Climatic context from May 21st: 17mm of rainfall on May 22nd, 25th, 28th, 9mm on the 30th, 16mm on the 31st, 7mm on the 2nd of June, it wasn’t heavy rainfall but regular with a lot of humidity. On June 10th 40mm, very strong rain, all the organic products protecting the vines were washed away, the vines became unprotected.
This phenomenon didn’t occurred for more than two generations.
On May 12th Mildiou started to appear from early morning, it was incredibly humid.
How the vine will be affected depends of its stage of maturity. The vine is more sensitive during the blooming period. On May 12th more than half of the plots were in full bloom and they were the ones who suffered the most.
At 8am the climate felt tropical, hot and humid, the mushroom started to appear on the flowers. 1/8 grappes were affected, 10am all affected grappes were 100% covered by it, and more were starting to be affected. It was expending very fast. At 2pm 70% of the grappes were damaged.
When you follow organic practices there is nothing to do with a phenomenon of such a scale.
Domaine de la Vieille Julienne vineyards consist of 3 micro-climates: Clavin/ Les 3 Sources/ Les Hauts Lieux. Only Lieu-dit-Clavin plot was at full bloom time and was favorable to the development of the mushroom known as Mildiou. Even on the same plot the maturity is not reached at the same time for all the grapes, therefore effects will be also different. Les Hauts Lieux were the less affected area.
The vines of Lieu-dit-Clavin used to produced IGP Principauté d’Orange 4 ha of Grenache were lost, 70% of the harvest. On the North part of Lieu-dit-Clavin 90% of the harvest were lost.

It’s a real challenge for a winegrower but that’s part of our vocation, adaption to our environment, we work with nature. It opens new questioning on how to improve.
In 2018 we had almost no wind, no Mistral.
Weather forecast are less and less predictable. We might have shorter winters, so think about a possible different timing for pruning or change some grappe varieties more adapted to climate change, more suitable to dry climate.

If the loss was considerable (70%) the quality of the 30% harvested and vinified met the winegrower expectation! 2018 is a year that we look forward to drink!

 

 

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