Discovering the food and wine of the Luberon region during the RWC
By now, you’ve probably got the picture. There’s not much the Luberon region, wedged in-between Marseille and Avignon in the countryside of southern France, doesn’t do well.
And the region’s food and wine is no different.
Rugby News and some close friends spent a week in Luberon during the Rugby World Cup with our mates from Destination Luberon and ate and drank our way into seriously tight pants by the end of it.
Here’s a little of what we learnt.
I’ll get to the fine dining in a moment, but for me, there’s nothing better than stumbling across a quaint restaurant in a little town and settling in for an unplanned long lunch.
Most restaurants throughout the Luberon’s 30 small villages offer a Plat du Jour every day. A two or three course set lunch menu, typically with a carafe of wine, for a fraction of the cost of their dinner menu.
It’s the perfect way to lose two or three hours pre afternoon sieste, and the lunches we stumbled across during our week in the Luberon were fantastic every time.
The Luberon is stacked with fine dining options and they are spread right around the region.
There are a number of Michelin star restaurants including The Clover, Table de Xavier Mathieu, La Fenière and La petite maison de Cucuron.
In Gordes, some of our group spent an afternoon at The Clover and commented that the food was just as good as the view.
We spent a day touring several Domaines around the Luberon and it couldn’t have been a more different experience to the typical Australian wine tour.
After being picked up from our accommodation, we arrived at Auretto Vignobles at around 10am.
We expected to be rushed in and out of a cellar door but were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Gauthier, a local rugby player who manages the vineyard. After bagging us out about the Wallabies, Gauthier took us on a walking tour of the vineyards.
The views and the morning spent learning about the grape growing process and the history of the property was thoroughly enjoyable. We then took a look at the processing plant to learn more about how Auretto make their wines before tasting some of the good stuff directly from a barrel.
Later on we settled in for a lunch and a more traditional tasting but we found that all our visits to domaines around the region, including Château de Mille and Château la Verrerie offered far more than a few sips of wine.
While southern France is largely known for its rose, the Luberon region is better known for its whites and reds.
Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault are typically used in reds, while Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Vermentino, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Ugni Blanc and Viognier are used to make whites.
We bought far too much wine by the end of our tour, but it disappeared incredibly quickly once we were back around our pool.
As mentioned previously, the cost of chateaux and villas around the Luberon, when compared to hotel prices in the major cities, is incredibly reasonable.
Between family and/or friends, a chateau with views, a pool and more bedrooms and bathrooms then you can count can cost as little as $150 per person, per night.
Once you settle in, you don’t really want to leave which creates a perfect excuse to call in a private chef to cook a meal of two.
Chef Damien and Chef Gerald cooked twice for us during our stay and both three course meals were superb.
As we had more than enough wine from our recent wine tour, the waitresses were happy to serve our drinks and both experiences, ones we won’t forget anytime soon, cost around $130 a pop.