It was a bit of paradise, a perfect combination: trekking though spring vineyards with stops en route to sip wine and savor gourmet delicacies. I could not pass this one up – the 12th Escapade des Gourmets in the vine covered slopes surrounding Rasteau, a town well known for its fine Côtes-du-Rhône wines.
This jolly and tasty event was attended by some 2,500 participants who, with dogs and children in tow, hiked up and down the picturesque hillsides. The scenery and views were splendid. But, the star attractions were wine and food – and entertainment.
The six-kilometer (four hours with stops) jaunt featured six stops along the route, each offering a different culinary treat and numerous wines to sample that best accompanied the food offered.
After paying 36 euros , each participant was given a bib with a glass, and a card marked with the six different stops and the list of wines offered at each. Participants were also given numbers which assigned them to groups for departure purposes lest all set out at once creating chaos on the hillsides. Our group was initially accompanied by a farmer in vintage attire who was followed by an obedient flock of geese, two goats, and a dog pulling a baby goat attached to a leash. A jovial entourage.
First stop, mise en bouche, hearty snacks, where three different vintages of Côtes-du Rhône blanc could be sampled. We moved on to my favorite, foie gras. Here three sweet wines, Vin doux naturel doré, were offered.
Best not go overboard on the wine – many kilometers ahead. And, the terrain became more demanding with short climbs up a hill into the woods. Along the way were views of the distant peak of Mt.Ventoux, and vineyards stretching mile after mile. Lots of photo opps.
At the Feuilleté stop, yummy pastry treats filled with cheese awaited, as well as three different Côtes-du-Rhône rosés. At this stop and many, a guitarist played. Some featured singers. Many in the crowd joined in singing folk songs, cabaret tunes, pop… At one stop a male choir performed in a vineyard chapel. By the last stop, gateaux chocolat, (chocolate cake) many were so moved by the wine and music, they danced.
The main course of this progressive meal was Daube Provencale (beef stew) –— served hot in the hinterlands buffet style. Hats off to the Rasteau volunteers, some 120 dedicated souls who manned the stands, served the food and wine, and overcame many an obstacle to transport both cuisine and drink to these remote locales. Portable toilets with sawdust had even been constructed.
Wine aficionados had a field day at the Daube stop where no less than 10 Rasteau Côtes-du Rhône Villages rouge wines were offered. What’s a French meal without cheese? That was next where another five Côtes-du Rhône Villages reds could be tasted.
The finale, Gateaux chocolat, was paired with two different sweet wines, Vin doux naturel rouge.
This is one not to miss. Next year’s Escapade will take place on May 13. Details at www.terres-de-lumiere.com
More to come on Tales and Travels, including new recipes and more photos in the photo gallery. You’re welcome to subscribe to future posts, and comments are also welcome.