Monday, February 28, 2022

Visited Wine Friends and Best Lunch Ever in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

One of the many things that drew us to Sablet was its location in the Cotes-du-Rhone wine appellation and proximity to renown villages such as Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. We like all the wines from this region but our favorites are the wines produced in the AOP located around the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a small medieval village spread out on the hillside at the foot of ruins of an ancient chateau. From the chateau hill, you have an impressive view in all directions, mostly of vineyards and the Rhone River 1.9 miles to the east. It is best known for the wine that is produced from the vineyards surrounding the village. 


Our favorite Chateauneuf-du-Pape winery is located just outside the village on the Route de Courthezon. We first became acquainted with Domaine de la Charbonniere when we tasted wines for our first wine list at Bistro des Copains in Occidental, CA. We have been fans ever since. 

The domaine is owned by the Maret family, daughters Veronique and Caroline and parents Michel and Mireille. They have been making wine since 1912 when Michel Maret's grandfather bought the domaine as a gift for his wife who was the daughter of a local vigneron. Michel took over in 1978 and started bottling and selling wine, most of it out the winery door.

Veronique took over winemaking from Michel in 2012 after working alongside her father beginning in 2009. Michel, although now retired, still drives the tractor and helps her in the cellar. Veronique and Caroline are the 4th generation of Maret's to oversee the domaine. Mother Mireille continues to manage the vineyard team.

Domaine de la Charbonniere

There are several cafes with outdoor terraces and a gastronomic restaurant with one Michelin star in the center of the village. Although this is a tourist town, there are not many tourists shops besides those selling wine as the business of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is wine.

The village streets are narrow, curving around the hillside or climbing up and down between the houses up to the chateau. The buildings are old but everything seems to have been completely restored. 

You can get to the chateau ruins at the top of the village by walking up Rue Joseph Ducos past the front of the Town Hall to the Church at Rue des Papes. Just to the left of the church are steps that lead up the wide stone-step street to the chateau.

Michel in the Center of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

One morning back in January, we headed to Chateauneuf-du-Pape for a degustation (wine tasting) at Domaine de la Charbonniere. We had read reports that the 2019 vintage was outstanding throughout the Cotes du Rhone and we were eager to see our friends and taste their wines.

As our visit came to an end, they said La Mere Germaine Restaurant opened a sister restaurant in the village last summer that we should try. We are always up for new restaurants so Veronique called and made a reservation for us to have lunch at Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine.    

Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine

Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine is in a new complex a few steps from the center of the village. There is a terrace with views of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I imagine it would be a lovely place to dine when the weather is a little warmer.

The view from the terrace of Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine

We entered at the time set for our reservation and after the obligatory checking of our Pass Sanitaires, we were offered a choice of all the tables since we were the first diners to arrive. Although, it was a beautiful day outside, it was a little brisk so we decided to sit at the comptoir in front of the rotisserie.  

La Rotisserie au Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine

The Comptoir de la Mere Germaine has an extensive wine list including many selections from Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Since we had just come from Domaine de la Charbonniere, we chose the AOP Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015 Cuvee Domaine Rouge.  

Domaine de la Charbonniere 

We chose the leeks in vinaigrette and chickpea hummus with little rolls to share as starters for our meal. 

Leeks in Vinaigrette

Our position at the comptoir was conducive to chatting with the cooks preparing our meals. They told us the Comptoir de la Mere Germaine opened on July 14, 2021, so quite new. 

Chickpea Hummus with little rolls with herbs and spices

I went with the farm chicken from the Luberon roasted on the rotisserie. It was accompanied by roasted potatoes. 

Rotisserie Farm Chicken from Luberon with Roasted Potatoes 

Shirley selected the filet of Bar (seabass). 

Filet of Bar (Seabass)

We were happy to see the restaurant menu included a selection of sides including a pan of seasonal vegetables.

Sauteed Pan of Vegetables

We shared a Lemon Meringue Tart to finish. 

Lemon Meringue Tart

The culinary team working in the open kitchen on the other side of the comptoir were happy to pose for a picture. 

We have not been to the La Mere Germaine since long before it was awarded a Michelin star during the pandemic. In fact, it was not very good as I recall. Also, we have not found any dining establishments in the village that we would recommend. 

So I am pleased to say the Comptoir de la Mere Germaine offers a welcoming mix of friendly, professional team, comfortable, well lit dining room and last but not least, generous portions of very good food, albeit not quite as refined as at some restaurants we frequent. 

Having said that, we will return again and again. In fact, we enjoyed our meals so much that we made a reservation before we left for the next Saturday for lunch.   

The Culinary Team

Here some different dishes we tried at the aforementioned Saturday lunch. 

We shared a vegetarian board of confit eggplant, zucchini and focaccia to start.

Vegetarian Board with Confit Eggplant, Zucchini and Focaccia

For my meal, I chose the rumsteak a la Rossini which is essentially a steak pan-fried and topped with a hot slice of fresh whole foie gras, briefly pan-fried at the last minute. I will be honest that I didn't know that "a la Rossini" means it comes with a slice of foie gras. Having said that, hey when in was delicious. 

Rumsteak (Sirloin) a la Rossini 

Shirley ordered a filet of trout from l'Isle sur la Sorgue. 

Trout from l'Isle sur la Sorgue

From the list of sides on the menu, we chose a bowl of crispy, hot frites. 

Side dish of Crispy French Fries

To finish, we got the Mille-Feuille to share. This was sort of deconstructed and I didn't think it was all that special and would not order again. This was the only disappointing dish we had during our two meals there.

Mille-Feuille to share

If you are in the area to taste wines from AOP Chateauneuf-du-Pape or just looking for a good place to have lunch in wine country, I recommend that you make a reservation at Comptoir de la Mere Germaine.  There is a large public parking lot a short walk from the restaurant. You will not be sorry. 

Le Comptoir de la Mere Germaine
4 Rue des Consuls
84230 Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Tel: +33 4 28 69 00 60

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