France - Wine Tasting Tour

Since the Romans brought the vine to Gaul over 2000 years ago, the Bordeaux region has been famous for fine wines.

England ruled this part of south-west France called Aquitaine from the 12th to 15th Centuries, developing a love for the red wine which they called claret and which the British continue to enjoy to this day.

There are four main wine producing areas around the city of Bordeaux. These are the Medoc to the northwest on the left bank of the Gironde, the Graves and Sauternes to the south, St.-Emilion and Pomerol to the east and the Entre-Deux-Mers between the rivers Garonne and Dordogne.

Celtic Contacts, Inc., in conjunction with the Farthinghoe Fine Wine of Northamptonshire, England is pleased to offer a six day wine tasting and gourmet dining experience in the Bordeaux region. The tour will be personally conducted by Mr. Simon Cox, principal of F F W and a qualified Master of Wine.

There will be a minimum of six and a maximum of ten people on each tour.

 

 


The tour will start on Sunday when you will be met at Bordeaux airport, the Gare St. Jean (train station) or at your hotel in Bordeaux and transported by private limousine to Pauillac in the Medoc where you will stay for three nights at the luxurious Hotel Chateau Cordeillan-Bages. Simon Cox will be at the hotel on Sunday afternoon to greet you. The hotel has a gourmet restaurant and after a chance to meet fellow participants over pre-dinner drinks, you will dine a la carte on Sunday evening.

Simon will meet you after breakfast on Monday morning at the hotel for a discussion on the program and an introduction to wine tasting techniques. This will last for about an hour after which you will leave the hotel in a small, air conditioned coach for a tour, wine tasting and lunch en chateau with either Anthony or Lilian Barton at Chateau Leoville-Barton or John Salvi at Chateau Palmer. The former, a Second Growth in the 1855 classification, is one of the finest and most beautiful of Bordeaux properties and is run by the Bartons, an old Anglo-Irish family who have owned the property since around 1825. The latter, a superb Margaux Third Growth is one of the prettiest chateaux and the wine is widely known in the United States.

 

 

 

 


 

After lunch, you will drive north to St. Estephe to visit and taste at Chateau Cos d'Estournel. The finest Second Growth is St. Estephe, Cos makes lovely wine and with its Chinese pagoda style architecture, it is one of the architectural jewels of the Medoc, both inside and out. On the return journey, close to the hotel, you will visit and tour Chateau Lynch-Bages, a fine Fifth Growth but rated much higher due to the expertise and flare of owner Jean-Michel Cazes, perhaps Bordeaux's leading guru. Here you will also taste the very fine neighboring Second Growth of Chateau Pichon-Baron. Dinner will be either at the hotel or at Relais de Margaux in which case transportation will be arranged.

The first visit on Tuesday morning is close to the hotel and provides the opportunity to visit the wine museum, tour and taste at Chateau Pichon-Lalande, a very fine Second Growth in Pauillac with a reputation close behind the First Growths. This will be followed by a visit to tour and taste at either Chateau Leoville-Barton or Chateau Palmer depending upon where you lunched the previous day. Lunch has been arranged at an excellent local restaurant after which you will tour and taste at Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou, a Second Growth from St. Julien with a reputation second only to the First Growths. This chateau is part of the very influential Borie family empire. Dinner will either be at the hotel or at Relais de Margaux depending upon where you dined the previous evening.

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On Wednesday morning you will check out of the hotel and visit, tour and taste at Chateau Siran,
agood Margaux Cru Exceptionnel. On the fall visits you will be entranced by the stunning woodland cyclamen garden - one of the most beautiful sights in the whole of France. This will be followed by a short tour of the city Bordeaux narrated in English by a local guide who will join you on the coach. Lunch will be taken at Le Chapon Fin, the finest restaurant in Bordeaux and which has been awarded one Michelin star.

After lunch, you will drive to St.-Emilion and check into the Hotel Chateau Grand Barrail where you will stay for two nights. You will be joined at the hotel by a local English speaking guide who will provide historical information on St.-Emilion, an important city in Roman times and one of the best preserved medieval cities in France. The guide will conduct a walking tour throughout the narrow cobbled streets of the city should you wish. Dinner has not been arranged for Wednesday evening to allow you the opportunity to dine al fresco in one of the many fine restaurants in St.-Emilion. Recommendations and a booking will be made for you as required.

The first visit on Thursday morning will be to tour and taste at Chateau L'Angelus, a contrast from the Medoc and now making one of the best St-Emilion wines. This is followed by a visit to a unique property in the center of the medieval city call Couvent Des Jacobins. You will be able to stroll through the buildings and gardens of this 14th century former convent and taste their fine wine. But wait until you see the cellars hewn from the hilltop on which St.-Emilion stands! Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant following which you can continue to explore St.-Emilion or return to the hotel for a rest prior to the evening's activities.

 

 

 

Around 5 pm you will leave the hotel and drive to the Sauternes for a visit which, for many, will constitute the highlight of the tour. Your destination is the Chateau de Malle, a seventeenth century chateau, a French national treasure and the home for centuries of the de Bournazel family. You will be shown around the Chateau by the Comtesse de Bournazel and, after tasting her fine range of Sauternes and Graves, you will dine with her in the Dining Room of the Chateau. You will be back at the hotel shortly after 11 pm.

Friday morning provides an interesting contrast to all that goes before. After checking out of the hotel, we visit Chateau L'Enclos, our only Pomerol. The wine is supplied the Dutch Royal Household. We then drive to the Graves to visit Chateau de Fieuzal, a Grand Cru that has built a wonderful reputation over the past few years. Run by the charming Gerard Gribelin, you will be impressed by all you see and taste and you will enjoy your final lunch of the tour hosted by one of the rising stars of Bordeaux.

In the afternoon, you will visit Chateau Haut-Brion, a leading First Growth which is one of the world's finest wines and now owned by the prominent American Dillon family. A tour and tasting at this property is a fitting end to a memorable week.

You will then be taken to Bordeaux airport, Gare St. Jean or your hotel in Bordeaux as appropriate where the tour will end.

 

 

 

 

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