23 Jun

The hill

Sancerre. If, like me, you like French wine, you will know the name. I love that particular wine, because I have yet to find a producer I don’t like, and even more so since I have family connections to and ‘history’ with the place. Because, you see, my older brother and his family live not too far from the famous hill, and because of all the trekking I did there while doing my national service…

Although the name of the village on top of the hill is the one on the bottles, a few other villages are included in the production of some great Sauvignon Blanc wines, with some Pinot Noir thrown in. For that reason, I have to admit I prefer the unfussy wines produced on the hill, and the whites in particular, to the smokier Pouilly produced on the other side of the river.

In my family, we like to pair those floral and fragrant wines with dishes and delicacies that some of you will not expect, such a foie gras and seafood. That said, I will always choose a nicely chilled bottle of the stuff over any Chardonnay, wherever they come from. I will even push the vice as far as keeping to the white variety when coming to the cheese course, especially if it contains some delicious crottins de Chavignol, those amazing little goat’s cheeses produced at the foot of the same hill.

I know some of those ‘wine villages’ can be surprisingly small, and some of them frankly not that interesting to visit, but next time you’re in the Loire valley, why not climb that hill and see for yourself how nice it is?

 

LA COLLINE

Sancerre. Si, comme moi, vous aimez les vins français, vous connaissez le nom. J’adore ce vin en particulier, parce que n’ai pas encore trouvé un producteur que je n’aime pas, et encore plus puisque j’ai aussi des connections avec la colline de par ma famille et mon ‘histoire’. Parce que voyez-vous, mon grand frère et sa petite famille n’habitent pas trop loin de la fameuse colline, et j’y ai effectué pas mal de marches lors de mon service national…

Bien que ce soit le nom du village en haut de la colline qui figure sur les bouteilles, quelques autres villages se joignent à la production de bons sauvignon blanc, avec parfois un peu de pinot noir ajouté. Pour cette raison, je dois vous avouer que je préfère ces vins pas trop compliqués aux vins de Pouilly, plus ‘fumés’, qui sont produits de l’autre côté de la rivière.

Dans ma famille, on aime jumeler ces vins floraux et parfumés à des mets délicats auxquels vous ne vous attendez peut-être pas, comme le foie gras ou les fruits de mer. Cela dit, j’en boirai plus volontiers une bonne bouteille fraîche plutôt que d’ouvrir un chardonnay, d’où qu’il vienne. Je pousserai même le vice jusqu’à continuer de boire du blanc avec le fromage, surtout si le plateau comporte quelques délicieux crottins de Chavignol, ces surprenants fromages de chèvre produits au pied de la même colline.

Je sais que certains de ces ‘villages-vignobles’ peuvent être, de façon quelque peu surprenante, assez petits, et certains d’entre eux franchement pas très intéressants à visiter, mais la prochaine fois que vous vous trouvez dans la vallée de la Loire, pourquoi ne pas monter cette colline et vous faire une idée pour vous-même?

12 Jan

Which wine are you?

How many of you get confused whilst staring at endless wine shelves in supermarkets? There are so many wine regions, grape varieties and blends to choose from, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to select a wine for yourself or for your loved ones.
So we wanted to start by helping you understand which wine you truly love. Our wine minds have come up with a pretty fun test to see what your taste buds say about the wines you should drink. We’re not claiming to be psychic, but we do know a thing or two about tastes and palettes.
Go on, give it a go… see if we can guess which wine you love to drink most. Or, if the result is unnexpected, keep an open mind and try these wines next time you are doing a wine tasting. On your sofa on a WineWednesday…
23 Dec

5 Most Popular Tours in France

So you’ve been learning French at Arnaud’s Language Kitchen; you can conjugate verbs like you’ve been doing it all your life (or close enough anyway)… It’s time to put your newfound skills to the test.

At Winerist our expertise lies in creating unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences for travellers looking to get a real taste for a place’s culture. We think the best way to experience a place or discover a language is to experience it with the locals – they’re the people who have shaped those areas and made them what they are.

So to help you practise your French we’ve picked our 5 most popular wine and food tours in France, from bespoke winery tours to intimate meet-and-greets with the winemakers. After all, nothing gets the French flowing like a few glasses of wine.

St Emilion Wine Tour by Bike

Escape to Bordeaux for a full day tour; with a personal guide you’ll visit the charming village of St. Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site before hopping on a bike and cycling to two impressive wine chateaux. Enjoy a delicious lunch in the middle of the vineyards and enjoy tasting wines produced in the wineries. -From €145pp

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vineyard Tour

Discover the famous vineyards of Châteauneuf du Pape. Stop in the historical city of Avignon for a walking guided tour and visit the best wine chateaux in the area. Enjoy a lunch overlooking the vineyards and prepare yourself for some great food and wine.  – From €295pp

Deluxe Champagne Weekend

For those who love the finer things in life, our 2-night break in one of France’s most famous wine regions, the world-renowned Champagne, is the tour for you. During the weekend you’ll visit Champagne Houses including Veuve Clicquot as well as smaller, boutique ones for wine tastings. Plus enjoy a VIP tour of Dom Perignon and a gourmet 4-course meal in one of Champagne’s finest restaurants. -From £401pp

Loire Valley Day Tour

Travelling through the gorgeous countryside of central France, Tour the heart of the Loire Valley, experience its history and culture….and its wines. Visit wineries and enjoy wine tastings and a delicious French lunch. -From €220pp

Full Day Provence Wine Tasting Private Tour

The lavender fields of Provence are something to behold. Discover their beauty during this full day tour as well as visiting the historic city of Aix en Provence and two wineries for wine tastings. -From €585.

This article was written by Winerist – the largest online wine and food travel marketplace. Our aim is to help create authentic travel experiences for travellers who want to discover the true culture of a place. With off-the-beaten-path tours and gorgeous hotels in over 75 locations worldwide, a trip with Winerist is a trip with the locals. For more tours in France, click here.

17 Feb

A blue oak

What a discovery that was. A small propriété, lost in the Provençal countryside, called Le Chêne Bleu. We had sampled some of their wine at the local fête des vins and had decided a visit was in order, such was the enthusiasm of the girls tending the stand (and the quality of the wine, too.) That was one of the best decisions we took that summer.

Built from historic roots (there has been a vineyard there for a few hundred years), this small domaine has evolved into a sophisticated operation. Despite not having booked our visit, we were lucky enough to be given a private tour. Love and attention have visibly been lavished on all aspects of the operation: the vines, the wines, the production chain, the degustation room…

The whole property is simply wonderful. It takes its name from a dead oak tree, which has been ‘painted’ with the copper sulphate used on the vines, giving it its distinctive blue tint. Needless to say, we tasted several of the wines and settled on a couple of cases, including some rosé and a white viognier too delicious for words. Chance discoveries like this make a hot summer’s day in the south of France even more special, if you ask me.

www.chenebleu.com

 

UN CHÊNE BLEU

Quelle découverte. Une petite propriété, perdue dans la campagne provençale, qui répond au nom le Chêne Bleu. Après avoir pris goût à leur vins lors d’une fête locale, nous avions décidé de visiter la propriété, représentée avec tellement d’enthousiasme par deux jeunes filles (et la qualité des vins, bien sûr.) Ce fut tout simplement une de nos meilleures décisions cet été-là.

Construit sur des bases historiques (la présence de vignes depuis quelques centaines d’années y est prouvée), ce petit domaine a grandi pour devenir le parfait exemple de sophistication. Même sans réservation, nous avons eu la chance d’une visite privée. De n’importe quel angle, il est clair que les propriétaires ont dépensé amour et effort sans compter: les vignes, les vins, la chaîne de production, la salle de dégustation, tout est impeccable.

L’ensemble de la propriété est tout simplement superbe. Elle prend son nom d’un chêne mort, ‘peint’ avec la même bouillie bordelaise utilisée sur les vignes, lui donnant sa couleur bleue caractéristique. Cela va sans dire, mais nous avons aussi dégusté plusieurs vins et nous sommes repartis avec une douzaine de bouteilles, y compris quelques rosés et un viognier blanc defiant toute description. Si vous voulez mon avis, c’est ce genre de découverte qui rend une chaude journée d’été dans le sud de la France encore plus spéciale.

www.chenebleu.com