Leaving Lismore at 6am on the morning of the Summer Solstice, Colma & Jen from Whizz.ie made their way to Dublin Airport to meet with Blogger Extraordinaire Lisa McGowan, Linda Blanchfield, Niamh Nolan & Sheelagh Tinney.
Boarding Flight EI514 from Dublin to Marseille, a crew of 6 giddy Irish ladies took to the skies, with great anticipation about our first visit to the Domaine Des Jeanne Vineyard & Cave. A little over two and half hours later, we were touching down in Marseilles, where Denise Douet, Business Development Manager of Domaine Des Jeanne, had just arrived from London.
Off we set on the 1 hour journey to the beautiful town of Ménerbes. We had the honour of being invited by Lord Mervyn & Lady Jeanne Davies (Founders of the Vineyard) to stay in their magical home, which had magnificent views overlooking a sea of orchards and vineyards. It was out of this world! Veronique, Co-Founder of the Vineyard (and also the partner of Alex, the Wine-Maker & Co-Founder) welcomed us to Mervyn & Jeanne’s fabulous house in Ménerbes with open arms.
With 4 days in the Luberon ahead of us… On the first day, wine tasting is an absolute. On the second day, one must go wine tasting again. On the 3rd and 4th day: Wash – Rinse – Repeat! 😉
It is simply impossible to arrive in Provence without hearing about British author Peter Mayle, who settled in the village of Ménerbes and wrote his best-known book ‘A Year in Provence’. The book was later made into the film ‘A Good Year’, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe which was filmed largely in the region and put the Luberon region on the tourist map. A Good Year is the result of a long standing friendship between Mayle, who has a house in the village of Lourmarin, and Scott, who has a house in nearby Oppède (where the Domaine Des Jeanne Vineyard is located).
Throughout our 4 day stay, it was hard to miss so many famous locations from the movie. If you were won over by the scenery in that movie (like us), the Luberon is the place to come to experience the real thing.
Bistro Le 5, with its romantic ambience next door to where we were staying, lured us in with its atmospheric live music and mouth-watering aromas of garlic lingering in the air. Seated on a large outdoor terrace overlooking the Luberon, magnificent panoramic views over the valley, festoon lights, charming staff, we wined and dined on Domaine Des Jeanne’s magnums of JJ Rosé (available to buy here), paired with fois gras, smoked salmon, fish, steak, and their delicious Tropézienne Moelleuse.
Bistro Le 5 is a famous gastronomic bistro with a unique view of the Ventoux and the Vallée. Open for the past 5 years, it is managed by Aurélio, Graça and Alexandre. Before opening, Aurélio and Graça managed with Hubert La Veranda in Ménerbes (one of the best restaurants of the south of France), so we were in great hands…
During dinner, Veronique discovered this writer’s love for the movie A Good Year, and over the next few days, she went out of her way to show us locations from it. Veronique & Alex’s kindness and charm was infectious and we had such a memorable time with them in Le 5. What a way to spend our first night!
Rising early the next morning, we were spoilt with a Provençal breakfast, which turned out to be a banquet of croissants, local jams (chestnut jam is amazing!), preserves, baguettes, strawberries, coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice by the delightful Claudie Frincart, who went above and beyond to make sure our stay exceeded our expectations.
Domaine Des Jeanne Vineyard
With satisfied bellies (merci beaucoup Claudie), we all set off to the famous Domaine Des Jeanne Vineyard in Oppède, which is less than 10 minutes away from Ménerbes. Spellbound by this beautiful region of Provence, we arrived at the sprawling vineyard, where Alex was waiting to show us around.
Fashion-Blogging guru Lisa McGowan (A.K.A. Lisa’s Lust List, as she’s known on Facebook and Instagram) recorded the whole trip on Instagram Stories and enthralled her 300,000 followers as she showcased her trip to the Vineyard; with many of her followers (Lusters, as they’re affectionately called) sending messages asking for more information. Lisa did such an amazing job – thank you for helping us spread the word Lisa.
We discovered Sheelagh previously lived in France for 9 years and is a fluent French speaker (she is also a Wedding Celebrant and can travel to your destination for your special day), so we threw our super-smiley Sheelagh in to the deep-end to become our impromptu translator for our Social Media videos… It turned out to be a match made in heaven as she and Alex made a dream-team in getting their multi-lingual story of the wine across to us, Lisa’s 300,000 followers and all our loyal JJ fans. We couldn’t have done it without you Sheelagh, you were fabulous!
After our busy morning, we made our way to Gordes… passing the most amazing fields full of lavender that you could smell from afar. We had to stop the car to take in the spectacular sight:
Alex & Veronique brought us to the fabulous La Bastide de Pierres in Gordes where we dined on delicious pizza, bruschetta, lasagne paired with magnums of our JJ Rosé (which they stock here). Set in the ancient village of Gordes, the ambience and view was out of this world. The food was mouthwatering, the service excellent and the staff were super friendly and efficient.
After lunch, we sauntered through the streets, enjoying the smells and bustle of Gordes. Unexpectedly, we came across another location used in ‘A Good Year’. We felt like we were stepping into a scene from the movie when we discovered the Restaurant Le Renaissance under a canopy of gnarled plane trees, in front of an old stone fountain. This is where Max’s love interest works as a waitress in the movie and we loved seeing it in real life.
Upon our return to Menerbes that night, Veronique & Alex brought us out for a fabulous meal in Maison de la Truffe et du Vin du Luberon, which is in a stunning location overlooking the Luberon. Stand, as Russell Crowe has in the movie, outside the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin and the scene that spreads out below is quintessentially French. We dined on the outdoor terrace taking in the breath-taking sunset while swallows zipped around overhead; and the food and wine pairings were amazing.
We shared a Charcuterie board paired with Domaine Des Jeanne’s MM Prestige Rouge, followed by a Truffle Ravioli and Pasta. Afterwards, we were brought downstairs to their wine cellar, which made us lost for words. Domaine Des Jeanne’s wines are showcased down here, along with other wines from the Luberon. Only the best make the cut.
Walking through the streets of Menerbes at night is a sight to behold… With its patchwork of taupe, sage and duck-egg paint-work, shuttered stone houses and olive oil and lavender soap shops, one could easily get lost in the sheer beauty of it all:
The next morning, our fabulous new pal, Veronique, who far exceeded our expectations in hospitality, brought us to Chez Auzet where we all had another delicious breakfast of omelettes, croissants and coffee.
At breakfast each morning, we fell in love with a particular chestnut jam local to the area, so off we popped to Au Gout du Jour (by Marie Pierre) to buy some to bring home. There we met the super friendly owner: Marie Pierre where she explained that she bought the restaurant La Veranda 4 years ago and transformed it in a deluxe Grocery Store showcasing the best cheese and jam from the region; along with her incredible Wine Shop selling wine from Provence and other regions. Marie Pierre stocks the full selection of all Domaine Des Jeanne’s wines, and we were delighted to see them on display in such a vast array. Beneath the Shop, lies a Cave (wine cellar) which we were lucky enough to be given a private tour of, where we discovered Marie Pierre’s eye for detail was simply enchanting. Old wine barrels now re-purposed into stools and tables, an enormous bottle of wine embedded and fashioned into the roof of the cave. Tasting and Dinner for groups is available down here, which we are sure is a fabulous experience:
Next up, we visited Les Petits Points de Provence (by Sylviane). We had been gifted delightful keepsakes by Jeanne & Mervyn (handmade lavender soap, lavender hand cream and a handmade lavender pillow) from this shop and they were so beautiful, we just had to visit the shop they came from. Sylviane’s passion is embroidery and originally started a very little shop in Ménerbes selling her tablecloths and cushions. Within 2 months, her business proved so successful, she decided to open her shop all year round, selling her embroidery, decorative items, hats, bag, dishes, Christmas presents and lots more.
As it was our last night, we returned to Bistro Le 5 where we dined once again on the Terrace overlooking the Luberon and dined on Planche de Charcuterie Italienne, Salade ‘Caesar’, followed by Lasagne de viande et legumes, accompanied by JJ Blanche – once again absolutely magnifique!
Domaine Des Jeanne is not simply the Vineyard alone, nor the Cave, nor the vines, nor the grapes, nor the fabulous team that work behind the scenes… Domaine Des Jeanne is an all encompassing experience. One which we will remember forever… and we are so grateful to have been part of it.
Flight EI515 from Marseille to Dublin landed in a slightly cooler climate that we had grown accustomed to, but every time we take a sip of their delicious wine, it will bring us straight back to the South of France. What a magnificent trip… JJ’adore!
- This writer flew from Dublin to Marseille with Aer Lingus.
- Taste & See the Vineyard at Domaine Des Jeanne every Monday – Saturday from 9-12 and from 3-7pm.
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