Friday, May 1, 2015

Portes Ouvertes in Jongieux and a Fete du Four

      Friday morning we headed off towards the town of Jongieux, where several wine producers who are Vignerons Independants were having their Portes Ouvertes during the long weekend. The association of Vignerons Independants is a group of producers throughout France that have agreed to follow certain rules in the production of their wine. Although I'm not positive, I believe a couple of the key rules are that all grapes must be hand harvested, and all wines must be made from grapes grown by the producer. While not a guarantee of quality, it at least means that the producer cares enough about their wines to agree to certain standards. I've found that the Vigneron Independant mark on a bottle of wine (a drawing of a man carrying a cask on his shoulder) is usually a good indication that the wine is worth drinking.

    We visited 2 wineries in Jongieux that morning. The first was Le Cave du Prieure/Domaine Raymond Barlet etFils. We tried mostly white wines from the Jacquere and Altesse grapes, including a Marestel, a small cru made from Altesse. We then walked up the hill to Domaine Chevallier Bernard, where the wife of the winemaker poured us most of their wines to try. She also brought out some local cheeses and salamis, and a sliced cured meat made by her and her daughter from the meat from a pig's head. The wines were outstanding, and we bought a white Jongiuex made from the Jacquere varietal, a Marestel, a red Jongieux from Mondeuse, and a late harvest wine made from Altesse. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we couldn't take any decent photos.

     On our way to Jongieux we had noticed a sign for a Fete du Four (Festival of the Oven) that morning in the small town of Murs et Gélignieux, so we decided to stop there after leaving Jongieux. The communal oven has a long history in this area, and while the tradition has died out, villages still celebrate it with festivals such as this one. When we arrived shortly before noon, cars were parked on the road at the entrance to the village, so we parked there and walked down the road to the small fete. There was a large wood burning oven in use, and a tent where freshly baked tarts and pizzas were for sale, We bought a crusty tart made with sauteed onions, thick cream, and walnuts, and brought it back to the gite to have for lunch with a bottle of local Rousette.

     In the afternoon we drove to the town of Morestel, on the other side of the Rhone in the Isere departement. Before we left Burgundy, our friend Ghislaine said that Morestel was a very pretty town, and she was right. While the commercial center of Morestel is on the main road running through town, the medieval part, which used to be the center of the town, is perched high above the new town. We walked up to the top and through the medieval part to the tower above the town. Morestel is known as the city of painters, and there are a number of art galleries in the old section. There was also an exhibition of local contemporary artists in the tower.


     After we left Morestel we took a leisurely drive back to our gite. We made a detour to try to find a goat cheese producer whose cheese we had bought last Sunday, and while we finally found it, no one was there. We continued on to our gite and finished off the sparkling Seyssel from Domaine Gallic that we had opened the day before.


  1. Looks like you might be in for heavy rains over there, with flooding and even landslides. We've had heavy rains here in the Loire Valley for the past 48 hours, and we ran into flooded roadways in several places this afternoon on the hour-long drive from Le Grand-Pressigny back to Saint-Aignan.

  2. Stay dry, mes amis! (I mean out of the rain, not away from the vin.)