The terraced vineyards of Beaumes de Venise are worth visiting and wine is certainly worth tasting! It is designated a “Site of Exceptional Culinary Taste” in Provence.
The colorful village of Beaumes de Venise, 20 km from the city of Orange, sits along the banks of the Salette River, at the foot of the delicately chiseled mountains called “les Dentelles de Montmirail”. Its name comes from the provençal word “baumes”, which means “grottos”.
This area is one of lacey grottos – chiseled out by the river to make some of the most breathtaking views in France. The rich and vibrant colors of the terroir form the palette of the countryside.
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1 – Beaumes de Venise
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Beaumes de Venise is the home of the Muscat de petits grains grape.
The wine – a golden Muscat and the essence of this area – was served at the tables of the Popes when they resided in Avignon.
In the 15th century, Pope Clement loved it so much that he planted 70 hectares of the grape to make sure his glass could be filled at any time. Sadly, the vineyards and the wines almost disappeared after the Papal Palace was moved back to Rome.
After languishing for many centuries, these vineyards and the production of wine were finally rejuvenated, thanks to the efforts of Louis Castaud, proprietaire of the Domaine des Bernardins.
The wine received an AOC in 1943. Today over 100 producers, fifteen domains and a cooperative of vignerons, founded in 1956, work constantly to improve the quality of the wine. Preservation and protection of the stunning natural environment remains their passion.
When I was visiting the area, I spoke with a member of the cooperative, Jean-Luc, who said, “The more I get to know the land, the more resolved I am to guard the terroir and respect nature’s cornucopia. This land appeals to all our senses and inspires our passion.”
2 – Syrah, Grenache, and Muscadet grapes
The terroir and dazzling landscape, striped with distinctively terraced and hilly vineyards, offer a nurturing home for syrah, grenache, and muscadet grapes.
In addition to the little-known Muscat wine, Vacqueyras and red Beaumes de Venise Cru des Côtes du Rhône are produced in the region.
When I spoke with Alain Ignace, President de Caves de Beaumes de Venise, he told me that Muscat, a dessert wine, rivals its more famous cousin from Bordeaux – sauterne.
Muscat from Beaumes de Venise is an easy-to-drink fruity wine which makes for a tasty aperitif to start an evening with your guests. In the summertime, the wine is blended with local melons from nearby Cavaillon to create a refreshing iced melon soup.
The wine goes especially well with asparagus, a vegetable notoriously hard to match with wine. It also pairs well with a slice of fresh Roquefort cheese or… la pièce de résistance… du chocolat !