I am very pleased of officially announce the launch of DELUXEWINETOURS.COM (LINK), my new venture with Journey Different, Inc. to provide unique wine tours in France. Our focus is on bringing wine lovers into contact with wine makers and others in the industry in the great wine regions of France.
Why France? Because France is the modern-day cradle of all things wine. Wine may not have originated there, but modern wine culture is centered there. And, it is a truly beautiful country, offering great cities such as Paris and Lyon that can be added to itineraries and provide a much richer experience.
You are invited to join us for this unique and exciting inaugural tour!
Our first small group tour, scheduled for March 15-22, 2016, is to include Bordeaux, Paris, and Champagne.
We will combine visits to châteaus with great meals (some of them IN the châteaus) and fine wine tastings, wine seminars, luxury accommodations, local guides and experts, time in the vineyards, opportunities to purchase fine wines to ship home, a literary walking tour, TGV train travel, and more!
Did I mention that there would be great food?
Visit our website (LINK) for all of the information and to register at a limited time discounted price.
Tell your wine-loving friends about this great opportunity to experience the best of French wine culture with me!
“A few feet away sat their 13 accomplices, a diverse group that included an aging thug with a long rap sheet; two small-town elementary-school teachers; a local bar owner; three Bordeaux négociants; the owner of that catering supply company from Biarritz; and a political science professor from an elite Paris university. Their link? Rey said the men shared a “fascination with the luxury of the world of wine, a world that was out of their reach.”
The spree began on June 10, 2013, when Gautrau and Allard broke into Château d’Yquem and stole 384 half-bottles of d’Yquem 2010 worth more than $110,000. It remains a mystery why a 27-year-old with no knowledge of wine knew enough to specifically take d’Yquem 2010. Prosecutors believe he had received an order. Phone records reveal that he received a phone call from Biarritz the night before.”
We arranged a visit to Chateau Guibeau(LINK) through a friend who is doing academic research on the vineyard and winery. After some pleasant email exchanges with Brigitte Destouet Bourlon and her husband, Eric, the co-owners, we visited last Thursday. Eric focuses on the vineyards, Brigitte on the marketing, and they collaborate on the wine making. The vineyard is actually the combination of properties of two families united in marriage a couple of generations ago, Chateau Guibeau and Guibot The Fourvieille. Wines are made under both labels today.
Located in the St. Emilion (LINK), area, the property and its chateau overlook a beautiful valley and Puisseguin, the village below.
The vineyard of 41 hectares (101 acres), planted with Merlot (75%), Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is located in the town of Puisseguin (LINK), in the Bordeaux Region.
We walked around the beautiful grounds, toured the barrel room and the wine making areas, with the vast fermentation vats, did some tasting, then got a tour of the vineyard with Eric. They have been converting to a fully-organic vineyard over the past five years, and have their first vintages under that regimen produced. This required quite a bit more work for them in the vineyards, but they feel that it is worth it for environmental and health reasons.
The wines that they produce at the Chateau are all reds – mostly Merlot, as it the case with most Right Bank producers in Bordeaux. The blends vary from year to year, but normally have at least 70% Merlot with lesser amounts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their 2012 Chateau Guibeau (LINK) blend is 80-10-10.
The Chateau Gibeau that we tasted, the 2012, shows great promise – it has a good balance, moderate tannins, a nice sense of dark fruit and a hint of minerality. It should improve with age. The 2008 Chateau Guibot La Fourvielle Puisseguin Saint-Emilion (LINK) was a revelation. This 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc beauty is rich with dark fruit, moderate tannins and acidity, and an underlying minerality that strikes both the nose and the palate in a very nice way. This wine should age well, but is ready to drink now. We bought several bottles to bring to the states, but two have disappeared so far on our journey home.
There is also a guest house to rent on the Chateau property – here is the (LINK).
This is a very good house, doing very good things – look for their wines and visit when you are in Bordeaux.
Le Wine Bar in Bordeaux, is always at or near the rankings of best wine bars in Bordeaux. There are a number of reasons for this, but Giancarlo is the main one – the co-owner and host is a raconteur about all things wine.
I visited Le Wine Bar tonight to talk about bringing some tour groups in for a special evening during the next year. I met with Ginacarlo Savini and Emmanuel Cadei, the owners to discuss our options. Ginacarlo handles the wine and the front of the house duties and Emmanuel handles the kitchen and all things food. We came to an agreement and our entire Bordeaux and Paris Tour Packages will be announced soon.
After our meeting, I stayed around to spend some time talking with Giancarlo and sampling some wines and some of the food. I started with a glass of 2011 Chateau Beauregard, a Pomerol red blend. Very nice, smooth and excellent with the Charcuterie and Fromage Plate served up by Emmanuel. Now, the food at Le Wine Bar, basically, appetizers and platters of meats and cheeses, lean heavily to the Italian, as that is Giancarlo’s heritage.
Le Wine Bar is not a high-end fancy place. It is very down-to-earth, and features less expensive wines for the most part. But, when you look at the bottle list, it is a different story. A wide range of wines from both the Old Word and the New World are available, and at good prices.
So for my second glass (and for the third) of wine, I asked Giancarlo to give me something that he enjoys. He opened a bottle of 2012 Bevilo Toscano, a Tuscan Bordeaux-style blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. An amazing wine (apparently not available in the US) with very up-front fruit and medium tannins. Very velvety on the mouth with a long finish. The wine was noticeably better with the Italian Charcuterie and Cheese than the Bordeaux was. Coincidence?
If you are coming to Bordeaux, put Le Wine Bar on your list. Or, you can join us on our upcoming wine tours and visit Giancarlo and Emmanuel with us. More information coming in June!
Dorianne and I are in Bordeaux for eleven nights, both to enjoy this Mecca of great wine, and to begin the process of setting up some wine tours here to begin in November.
After a couple of nights, I am surprised that there is a similar issue with restaurant wine lists here that I have found in the US – many of the Bordeaux’s listed are not ready to drink! Note that we have not been to any top of the line restaurants, but still, we are IN Bordeaux!
We will be researching this further, beginning at lunch today at Le Noailles, a favorite spot. More later!
In an article by Patrick Schmidt on The Drinks Business blog, Robert Parker talks about the rapid escalation in the price of high end wine. Parker notes that he is “part of the problem” as his high scores often help to inflate prices even higher. He says that there is a “caste system” developing because of wine prices.
From the article: “Parker told db, ‘I think this is a problem; it means a lot are shut out because basically we have a caste system of wine – at the really desirable high end, whether the wines are Burgundy or Bordeaux, or from California, they have become so expensive that people just can’t afford them, so they look elsewhere.’”
Wine prices seem to be expanding like the Universe – the farther apart they are, the more quickly they speed away from each other.
As I have noted before, Dorianne and I will soon be leaving for an extended period in Europe – mostly Spain and France, with some side trips to Portugal and/or Morocco on this leg, then back to the US for a bit to see our daughter graduate from Boston University, then back over to Switzerland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium (maybe) and Denmark. Here is a link to a NYTimes.com article about a couple who have retired and are using Airbnb.com – which we will be doing for most of our stays. Our trip will be more focused on wine, of course!
I love to travel. Since I was a child, I have always gotten excited about traveling – to the next town or across and ocean.
Dorianne shares this passion and we also are passionate about wine, so we combine the two passions wherever possible. This will begin a series of blogs on wine related travel, leading up to our departure in late February for a few months in Spain, Portugal, and France. I will, of course, blog from the places we visit about the locales, the people, and yes, the wines.
Wine Travel is Fun and Rewarding – Here we are at Foxen near Santa Ynez, CA.
“We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” ~ Carson McCullers
A couple of years ago I took a short sabbatical, six weeks, and Dorianne and I went to France. We spent 3 1/2 weeks in an apartment in Paris, then went to Lourdes in the Pyrenees for a conference, the spend about six nights in Bordeaux and six more in the Loire Valley. The year before that, we took our daughters to Paris, Burgundy, and Provence for three weeks. In each of these amazing places, we sampled the local and regional wines and, where possible, visited the vineyards and chateaus where wine was grown and made, and made friends in cafes and tasting rooms with others who love wine.
“If I were really really ridiculously wealthy, I wouldn’t buy a mansion, just tiny apartments in every city I love.” ~ Mara Wilson
Combining wine enjoyment and education with travel is something that may not be for everyone, but for some, it is the essence of a quality experience. Those of us who spend time with people who create and sell wines know that they tend to be very interesting people, indeed. People like Wes Hagen of Clos Pepe Estate in the Santa Rita Hills of California’s Central Coast region and Giancarlo at Le Wine Bar in Bordeaux, are just two examples of friendly, knowledgeable, and approachable people who happen to be in the wine business. There are countless others as well. Wine travel lets you meet these people and have the experience of connecting at a much deeper level with the wine itself.
Wine travel can be a day trip, for those fortunate enough to live near wine-producing regions. I will be taking such a trip in a week, to the Santa Ynez, Santa Rita Hills appellations in Santa Barbara County. This will be a group tour, with many people who I know – four wineries and a picnic lunch. A very nice way to spend a day.
One of the things we will be doing on our upcoming European journey is setting up future small group wine tours in France. Working with travel professional Steve Hooks, we will be creating a series of tours that will include time in wine country – initially Bordeaux then Burgundy – followed by some time in the city – either Paris or Lyon. The tours will be geared toward those who are already familiar with fine wines and in separate groups, those who want to learn about fine wines. The focus of the former will be discovery and enjoyment and the focus of the latter will be education and enjoyment.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” ~ Anaïs Nin
I really believe that good wine is best enjoyed with others. Our tours will emphasize that point, while offering some really unique opportunities to access some amazing places, enjoy great food paired with fine wines, and exploring the people and places of some of the world’s great wine regions.
We are not certain that there is a viable market for tours of this level. There are not many truly high-end wine tours being offered to North American customers. Some of the major tour companies and some of the cruise lines have tours featuring wine, but they are rather pedestrian, have larger groups, and mix the novice and the expert, which does not often go well in my experience.
Our question is – is there a market for a week-long small group experience with four nights in a premier wine region (Bordeaux, Burgundy) followed by three in a major city (Paris, Lyon), staying in top hotels, with tastings of top wines, dinners in chateaus, connections with locals in the wine trade, special tours of museums (like a private evening tour of the Musee du Louvre), wine pairing experiences, wine seminars and more?
As the year unfolds, we will be finding out. Share your thoughts in the comment section or email me at DrJim-Lockard@ATT.net
The For Sale sign is up in front of the house. Dozens of folks are streaming through our completely staged home – meaning that it looks pretty much like we don’t live here. Every morning, we hide all of the evidence of our occupancy and we depart whenever the realtor notifies us that a showing is happening. Fortunately, that has been happening very regularly of late.
We will be heading to Europe for a while, no fixed address, probably for most of 2015 and maybe beyond. I am looking forward to sampling more of the wines of Spain, France, Germany, and Austria (at a minimum), but what to do about our wines in our home cellar?
Now, when I say “cellar,” I should note that we live in a suburban tract house. No basement. Our “cellar” consists of a number of stashes around the house, where lighting is minimal and temperature is fairly steady. The really good stuff is in a wine refrigerator in the garage, but there are bottles on a rack in our utility closet, another rack in a hallway, another on the cabinet in our dining room (French only!), and more on a small rack built into our kitchen breakfast nook.
When the move was being planned, we had about 350 bottles in total. We rented a locker at CELLAR MASTERS in Newbury Park, CA, where we put a dozen cases right away and where the remainder will go when we leave.
The focus now is on drinking wines that will not age well, or that are at or near their peak now. We are also supplementing with some purchases of whites, which we do not tend to keep over time for the most part. Our wines are mostly from California, with the Central Coast and Napa and Sonoma well-represented; plus a couple of cases of French wines, and a few Australians and one or two from British Columbia’s Okanagan Region.
So, our case of ARTISTE wines, our CLENDENDEN FAMILY WINES and the AU BON CLIMAT are being consumed, as are our STOLPMAN and some CABERNETS. Our French wines, mostly Bordeaux, will age well, as will the Burgundies. We will keep some of the newer CLOS PEPE Pinots, which should last a few years, and we will have a lot of assorted CABERNETS and MERLOTS from California to keep.
I expect that we will be down to about 200 bottles when we depart sometime in mid to late February. At some point, we will likely have the wines shipped from the storage facility to wherever we land, or sell it off. It is both fun and a bit sad to be consuming some of the bottles that we obtained from the wineries or through friends. But, there are worse things that one has to do, right?