Chateauneuf-du-Pape in Provence. A wine lover's paradise!
Guest: Romain Gouvernet
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During a 2018 trip to France, I did a wine tour in Chateauneuf-du-Pape in Provence. Romain Gouvernet is a certified sommelier and a local to the Provence wine region near Avignon, and runs the fabulous wine tour company, Provence & Wine.
In this episode of the LFF podcast I chatted to Romain about his life growing up amongst the grapes but finding his love of wine a little later whilst living abroad. He has returned some years ago to share his knowledge with travelers from all over the world who come to visit this amazing region of France.
Romain shared many special insights into wine with us, but one that has stayed with me, is that appreciating wine is like appreciating art. We don’t all like the same thing, but if we can understand the artist, the genre, the story behind the artwork, we can come to understand and appreciate it in more depth. Romain feels the same about wine. The more we understand the wine, the environment in which the grapes were grown and the wine made, the more we connect with the story of the wine, its complexities and the “terroir”, the more deeply we will appreciate it.
My wine tour day started in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and was an intimate tour of about 5 or 6 people. It was an extraordinary day, where we visited vineyards or in French “vignobles” and “caves”, that have been in the same family for centuries. We went behind the scenes and into places the public would never go. We also tasted exquisite wines with one from before the Second World War! We had lunch at Château des Fines Roches which had amazing views across the whole region and visited a number of beautiful châteaux as we meandered from one winery to the next.
One château we visited has been producing wine since 1560! Château la Nerthe was the first to export wines to Europe and the US, and the first to sell wine in bottles rather than the previous practice of barrels. Interestingly the château was completely taken over by the German’s during the WW2 occupation of France, and was the Nazi headquarters in that region of France during that time. Luckily, the beautiful buildings and vines survived the war intact and are still as stunning as ever for us to enjoy today!
I happened to mention to Romain that in each LFF episode I share some French music and he straight away suggested one of his faves which is also one of mine! Georges Brassens is as Romain describes him, the French Bob Dylan! The song we play in this episode is called Heureux qui Comme Ulysse and it talks about an early summer morning when the sun sings to your heart… when there is a beautiful feeling of freedom… when a friend brings happiness… when the sun, the wind, the rain and the good weather brings happiness in Provence.
The lunch we enjoyed during our Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine tour was three courses, and had some beautiful dishes, one of which was foie gras. Some countries or regions have now outlawed the practice of breeding geese for the purpose of making foie gras, so I have instead shared a recipe which is on a similar theme.
My lovely aunt Margaret made this recipe for many family occasions as I grew up, and she has shared her secret with me that her wonderful chicken liver pate recipe is from the just as wonderful and also iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook!
These recipes are perfect for making a statement at a family Christmas or any other occasion, whether winter or summer, northern or southern hemisphere!