Wines and vines in the Ventoux
Warm sun, warm welcomes, on a vineyard in Mazan, Vaucluse
As the world emerges from Covid hibernation, all the pretty places are no doubt bracing themselves for a tourist onslaught. Whether it be wanderlust or revenge travel, the looming summer months will inevitably see the most charming of French villages submerged by cars, cars and more cars. Lingering longer, I’ve decided, is the only way forward. If everyone just slowed down, they wouldn’t be in their cars at all, they’d be lounging by a pool or sipping rosé on a winery. In a pretty place like Provence. They’d be fueling this new groovy trend I have heartily embraced called slow tourism.
Provence, oh Provence
Ever since Peter Mayle made it the most desirable French place to be with his book A Year in Provence, everyone wants to be there, including me. It’s like travelling was in the old days, visiting local produce markets where the produce is actually local, marveling at dreamy landscapes and admiring traditional architecture that has resisted modernization to retain all its charm. A place where time dawdles along as you gaze at lavender fields and partake in long lazy lunches under olive trees.
Hidden away up (yet another) steep and rocky road, the Plein Pagnier winery has all the ingredients needed to dip your toes into the world of slow. With its traditional old farmhouse set at the edge of the vines, it provides a feast for the senses. Spectacular vineyard views that look out to Mont Ventoux, the refreshing pool, jams and juices and olive oil from the grapes and cherries and olives they grow onsite.
Not to mention the wine of course, made from syrah grenache, carignan, roussanne and viognier, typical for the region and the appellation Ventoux.
The property is a family affair, with Genevieve running the BnB and her son Edouard managing the wine-making side of things and together they offer a wine tourist’s dream: a peaceful retreat, a warm welcome, beautiful scenery and generosity in all its forms.
Between lolling by the pool or wandering off amidst the vines, I managed to find time to taste the wines and get the guided vineyard tour with Edouard.
Having studied and worked in wine elsewhere for many years, he returned back to the family business a few years ago with the aim of developing it further, and develop it further he certainly did. From just a handful of hectares of vines, cherries and olives ten years ago, the property now boasts nearly 20 in all, producing a modest sum of 15,000 bottles, privileging quality over quantity.
There are also plans to offer more shady spaces for those lazy lunches and romantic cabins hidden in the fields, but for now they offer a room in the house and two apartments, all with private terrasses. The little touches like the wine and juice in the fridge and the friendly cat wandering around all help to make you feel that much more welcome. Peace and nature guaranteed.
Plein Pagnier, near Mazan, in the Vaucluse. Around 100euros a night for the apartments.
A thing to do
Drive, or, if you’re bold enough, cycle, up the Mont Ventoux. They have recently upgraded the road to the top, though be warned that in the summer months it will be swarming with cyclists. The views, however, are breathtaking.
Failing that, from Mazan’s cooperative winery, La Cave Canteperdrix there’s a signposted walk (6kms) or cycle (13kms) amidst the vineyards. Be sure to ask inside for the map (it’s not that well signposted).
Rosé: not what you would expect for 8euros! Surprisingly flavoursome, with a pleasant finish. Perfect for an apèro on a warm summer’s evening.
Terres d’Edouard (red): A real treat. Round and fruity, you can taste the cherries, with a touch of earthiness that gives it complexity but doesn’t weigh it down.