A nice base for us visiting the Southern Rhone was the Hotel Bellerive in Rasteau. It is “homey”, very quiet, with beautiful views of vineyards and the Dentelles de Montmirail. It is within half an hour to Vinsobres, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Beaumes-de-Venise and the Cotes du Rhone Villages of Seguret, Sabelet and Cairanne. Like most hotels in rural wine regions, don’t expect wifi or even a reliable wake-up call, but they do have the most hospitable cat I have ever come across, and good breakfasts.
Les Florets in Gigondas. One of the best for food and wine in the area, excellent ambiance on the beautiful terrace and most sophisticated service. For lunch, we started with amuse-bouche of intensely-flavored lobster bisque followed by an impressive dish of beef cheeks layered with foie gras and purple potatoes over a syrah-based gelee. Our entree was a duo of lamb: a tatin of lamb and eggplant accompanied by grilled baby lamb chops and an artichoke puree. We finished with a trilogie of chocolate desserts. The meal was paired beautifully with the low-yielding grenache-based Vacqueyras rouges of Domaine la Garrigue. If the restaurant is any indication of quality and service, I will certainly consider this hotel for the next trip!
Le Mesclun is in Seguret, touted as one of France’s most beautiful villages. The views from this hill-top village are beautiful indeed and the restaurant has several vantage points from the outdoor patio to indoor dining.
L’Auberge du Petit Bistro is a casual restaurant in Vinsobres and was our first stop in the Southern Rhone. We knew we had arrived in the south by the mediterranean entree of three fishes steamed en papillote (in paper) with fresh vegetables and herbs. We started with ravioli with truffles, then foie gras stuffed with a Nyon olive tapenade made with Beaumes-de-Venise which gave it a sweet/salty flavor. We finished with cheeses and chocolate.