France - Wine Tasting Tour
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,
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
On Wednesday morning you will
check out of the hotel and visit, tour and taste at Chateau Siran, a
good 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.
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
You will then be taken to Bordeaux
airport, Gare St. Jean or your hotel in Bordeaux as appropriate
where the tour will end.
Simon Cox, a
qualified Master of Wine, was for some years a regular cavalry
officer in the Royal Scots Greys. He has been a wine merchant for
the last 22 years and for much of that time, also ran a famous
cooking school in rural Northamptonshire. He has visited most of the
wine producing areas of the world and is a frequent visitor to
Bordeaux where he buys stock for his private clients in Britain and
the Far East.
He has drawn on his extensive
private contacts in Bordeaux to provide the entree to a fascinating
glimpse of some of the most interesting and beautiful chateaux of
this classic wine area.
Should you wish to extend your
vacation in France, may we suggest a few days in Paris, a barge trip
in Burgundy, a week visiting the chateaux of Loire or some time
tracing the footsteps of Cezanne and Ban Gogh in wonderful Roman and
medieval Provence. We will be delighted to design an individually
planned itinerary for you and to make all travel and accommodation
arrangements including transatlantic flights.