We woke up in Orange to find beautiful sky and sunshine smiling on this part of southern Rhone. Instead of going to our winemaker appointment directly we looked for lavender fields in Sault, stopping at a farm to buy organic fruits and juices before finally arriving at their local market to buy lavender soaps and gorgeously dark and perfectly ripe cherries. There was even a truck selling raw milk on tap. Sun, warmth, lavender, cherries, dairy, could life get more beautiful in this part of France? Why yes, it could....
The drive to Château de Beaucastel took longer than we thought, actually we got hopelessly lost, and had to call the château to ask for directions, but we finally arrived, with just enough time for a quick tour of the vineyards and the facilities before being shown to their dining room.
We, as in we and our wine-connected friends Tony and Florence, had also been invited for lunch with Pierre Perrin. He is the fifth generation bearing this illustrious name yet in person he is modest, very approachable, and certainly very generous.
The menu for our "light" lunch (yep, including a 1970 vintage, sure we were squealing with excitement behind our polite facades!). Their personal chef, whom we also had the pleasure to meet and talk to, creates menus to pair the local and seasonal specialties with their own wines for optimum enjoyment. We were in for a real treat.
Before we started, there was a round of Aigo Bouido, a typical Provencal garlic soup.The name literally means boiled water, and it is made up of lots of chopped garlic, toast, olive oil and hot water. I think it is the secret why people in these parts are seldom ill, can one imagine anything more healthful and nutritious? It was very comforting and not too strong-tasting despite the copious amounts of garlic. V really enjoyed this soup and finished most of her bowl, including the tender garlic bits.
Saint Pierre fish with girolles and fresh rosemary was very delicate, the delicious girolles in camomile-scented almond milk provided a stunning contrast.
The roasted rack of baby lamb was deliriously good, the meat so tender hardly any chewing was required and the flavour was incredible, you can taste the warm and grassy spring with each bite. Even V wanted my share.
The wines were all, needless to say, totally amazing- complex and beautifully structured with longlasting finish, everything you'll expect in a great wine.
Dessert was just three little heavenly bites of choux puffs piped with cream and sandwiched with strawberry slices, finished with that very elegant dessert wine of Beaumes de Venice. The conversation flowed as easily as the impressive wines, we talked about everything and nothing, but soon it was time to say goodbye. We thanked our host profusely and floated out of the château on a happy cloud, tipsy with good food, wine and the beautiful life in these parts.