The drive wound through country lanes beyond Avignon to the south and into the hills. Small villages dotted the landscape and some stood out on hills with church towers beaconing from the village square. Seguret appeared around the bend, built as if clinging for life to the hillside onto which it clung. It was one with its environment–as was everything we encountered on this day.
Our gracious and generous hosts today are Walter and Veronica, “just call me Ronnie,” McKinlay. We have met via email introduction by our friends Chuck and Donna Orrico. Yet, somehow, it seems as if we have known each other for some time, so welcoming are our new found friends.
Up the hills above Seguret we go on one lane byways, around curves and beside grape vines that touch the roadside until we reach the McKinlay’s winery. Walter, among his varied business interests, “found” this wonderful vineyard, purchased it and built a winery from ground up, using the most modern technology and with the clever idea of building vertically in order to use gravity and efficient use of space in vinification, the process of turning grapes into wine. We were honored to have a personal tour and delighted with a personal wine tasting of the award winning wines produced by Domaine de Mourchon. The majority of grapes at Mourchon are Grenache with a minority of Syrah. Wine Advocate has rated the wines highly, and Walter recently learned that the Dallas Morning News has awarded his Grand Reserve their gold star. And here we were, privileged to be with Walter in his wine tasting room, sipping it with him as he explained the differences between grapes and the French concept of “terroir” which has no English equivalent, but means all the combined conditions of soil content, elevation, temperature, sunshine, moisture, etc. that are necessary to make a good wine from each grape variety. Terroir for one grape variety is not the same terroir for another variety.
The day was not done. Walter drove us further up the hill to his beautiful home which has a panaromic view of the majestic Provence countryside. Sweeping down the hill into the valley below are the Mourchon vineyards, in sections called parcels, each parcel having different aged vines–some vines can produce for a hundred years with intensity of taste improving as the vines age. Beyond are the mountains of Provence, which have ski runs in winter. On this foggy day, the sight was stunning. Ronnie had prepared a great vegetarian meal for us and we had a delightful visit in a kitchen and dining area that said, “France.” We learned that Ronnie has her own specialty, producing olive oil, and products that specialize in the Grenache grape grown at Mourchon, such as salt infused with Grenache, Grenache confiture, and body/facial lotion with grape oils. The McKinlay’s are certainly making the most of their encore life!
Did I mention that Rich Steves organizes tours in Provence that bring guests to Domaine de Mourchan? Walter returned us to our hotel in Avignon. Yes, it is a day to remember. Thank you McKinlay’s for a wonderful experience and loving welcome.