Our “3 Night Wine Tour” at La Madelene was nothing short of spectacular. It was everything we had hoped for and more. Philip and Jude could not be more gracious hosts. The property is lovely with huge, well appointed rooms. The setting in the Provencal countryside is beautiful. We ate like kings throughout the journey. The quality of wineries visited and access to the proprietors and winemakers was unparalleled. If you love wine tasting and touring, this experience should not be missed. And if you love Rhone style wines in particular - as we do - prepare to drink a lot of outstanding wine.
We can’t say enough about Philip and Jude and how hard they work to make your trip special. Every detail of your visit is well planned and laid out for you. Yet you don’t feel like you are being served, so much as you are staying with old friends and enjoying a great visit. This is a truly proper B & B experience. Every meal is well provided. The best part of the journey is sitting at the table having a wonderful time with new friends while eating a great meal and sampling the fantastic wines that Philip has chosen for you.
La Madelene is in a great spot. The countryside in the south of France is torn from a storybook. The drive from Avignon out to La Madelene was a revelation. Each time you look out the window of the car you see a landscape painting you might have on the wall of your home. The house itself is set among orchards and farmlands and still holds every bit of its 12th century charm. It is easy to visualize the monks tending the land around the property.
However, the rooms are spacious and luxurious, with large, modern bathrooms. Our room was very large with a separate retreat with a lounge and desk. The bathroom boasted a walk-in shower with a rain style shower head and a separate wand. Water pressure and heat were excellent.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the 3 night wine tour…and oh my, they may well have called this the 3 night food tour. Between the excellent restaurants we visited for lunch each day and dinner one night, and Jude’s own excellent cooking, we were extremely spoiled. My wife and I consider ourselves “Foodies” and we have eaten at great restaurants both at home and abroad. But never have we had the occasion to eat such consistently good food for three days in a row. Further, lunch and dinner each night were greatly enhanced by Philip’s excellent wine choices. The welcome and farewell dinners at La Madelene’s table were both nights to remember.
If the wine is the only thing you care about in booking your trip, then this is the right choice for you. Philip knows his stuff and has forged great relationships with many of the top vignerons in the Southern Rhone. We are big believers in primarily only buying wine that we have tasted. And we came into this trip being great fans of Rhone style wines, but mostly those produced in California. Our experience drinking actual Rhone wines had proved mixed and we did not have high expectations of the wines we would discover here. Wow! Did Philip ever show us the light. The wineries he selected for us to visit were exceptional, and we tasted more great wines than we could have hoped for.
We visited 4 wineries each day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, always with a great lunch in the middle (with more wine, of course). This pace is excellent for experienced wine tasters. At each winery we met with a principal and were given tours of the property and production facility. A particularly memorable, but typical experience while touring with Philip, was driving up a rocky hill in Philip’s van with the vigneron and his two dogs (mom and pup) in the back, so we could hike in and visit the oldest Grenache vine in the vineyard (about 100 years old).
Another classic moment was while tasting wines with a young vigneron who was many generations into the family business and he mentioned that one of the wines we were tasting had made Wine Spectator’s top 100 the past year. Even Philip hadn’t known about this yet. In the meantime, the wine was available to us for 15 Euro per bottle, and this was maybe the 3rd or 4th best wine we tasted while touring with Philip (in my humble opinion).
Also, I can’t neglect to again mention the wines that Philip pulls from his own cellar to serve with dinners. Great wines and excellent references for areas we did not get to visit on our tour. Just as revealing and educational as the winery visits.
Final word on the wine touring portion: If you are a wine hobbyist, enthusiast, collector, snob…whatever, this is top notch stuff and you will appreciate it.
Well, see above. If you don’t have a great time here, it is probably your fault.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Beautiful restored 12th-century priory at the foot of Mt. Ventoux, surrounded by orchards , vineyards, 11,5 metre pools, many terraces and a lawn. Chateauneuf du Pape wine tours available. ... more less