The French are very particular about their wine. This should come as no surprise. Despite the increased production of wine in California, Australia, South Africa and other parts of the world, France is still considered by many to have crafted over many centuries the art of making wine. In April, I had the opportunity to be at a soirée for the start of the wine season at Domain de Bel Air, the home, vineyard, and winery of Didier and Isabelle Michel. The winery opened for the season with an all-day affair, attracting locals and tourists to taste the first wines of the harvest.
Mon amour and I spent the weekend with Didier and Isabelle in their massive, very old, stone Mas at Bel Air in one of the upstairs chambers. The window and shutters of the small bedroom open to a breath-taking view of the vineyards, and one morning one man was walking among the vines examining the crops.
The chamber itself opens to a long balcony and overlooks the courtyard, with fish pond, a jungle of exotic plants and a shaded alcove situated on the far side of the courtyard. The long balcony leads to a set up outdoor steps that enter the courtyard. In other words, there is no interior exit from the chambre. Needless to say, it was quaint, romantic, a stereotype of Old World charm, as all things in this romantic country seem to be. This week my friend in the States commented that she’s sure I’ve stepped into a fairytale, and I couldn’t agree more.
Domain de Bel Air is located in the Rhone Valley at the foot of La Roque-sur-Ceze near the banks of the Ceze River.