5 of the best French wine tasting experiences
Though often tying with European neighbour Italy in terms of production, France is still seen as the world leader when it comes to wine. For the discerning connoisseur, a wine tasting holiday with the best our planet has to offer is the perfect way to relax, indulge and learn more about the centuries old tradition that makes French vino so irresistible.
1. Bordeaux – Medoc Region
This deep red is the most classically French of all French wines. Small wonder the region that produces it is the most prolific in the country. With well over 8,000 chateaux, you’ll never be short of a bottle in any one of the 54 different appellations. But with that much choice, a little local knowledge from some grape-growing experts wouldn’t go amiss. Step forward Smooth Red, whose Medoc wine tasting tour is a fully chauffeured day around the Left Bank’s vineyards, with tutored wine tasting and a wonderfully illuminating journey from grape to glass.
2. Provence – Aix en Provence
The rural southeast of France is beautiful, largely untouched and continues to inspire authors, foodies and oenophiliacs (that's the fancy word for wine lovers) the world over. Its warm Mediterranean climate, rugged charm and proximity to the coast endows the area with a sparkling sun-soaked allure. And with bragging rights for producing half of France’s rosé, it’s a must if you’re partial to the pink stuff. Treat yourself to an exclusive day out in the heart of Provence with an Aix en Provence wine tour. It’s a fabulous peek into the production of the world’s best glass of mauve, in the striking area of Cezanne’s majestic Mount Saint Victoire. And if that’s not enough, you can always take your hobby one step further. Quite literally, as you’re invited to crush grapes as part of the region’s harvest festival.
3. Champagne region
Offering the world’s most famous glass of bubbly is the ancient province of Champagne, evidently better known for its eponymous beverage. Tours are easily accessible from the capital Paris (with demand understandably high). The journey is instantly iconic – the vineyards, rustic roads and farmland are picture-book France. And that’s before you reach the winery itself. With France Bubbles Tours, you’ll get a full historical rundown of the renowned sparkling white at Veuve Clicquot - plus tastings - before a lip-smacking tour through a fifth generation family-run wine makers located in the scenic village of Damery, part of the graceful Marne’s Valley.
The distinctive appellations of this Roman-carved wine-producing region boast a grape that goes back to 600BC. It’s that heritage and long-term cultivation on which the French pride themselves, especially this region, which straddles the slightly cooler north and the sunnier climes of the south, producing two distinct characters of wine. Why not try them both and learn the difference? Treat yourself to a tour that takes you from top to bottoms-up across the stunning vistas of the north’s countryside and the soleil-kissed Mediterranean south. Along the way, explore the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the 14th century château, and wander medieval streets near Place du Portail.
5. The Loire Valley
The Loire Valley is known colloquially as the Garden of France. Which, given France’s beauty, isn’t a half bad nickname. Running along the Loire River, the region is best known for its sauvignon blanc and a biting crisp fruitiness to its produce. The area also boasts some jaw-droppingly elaborate architecture that looks straight from the imagination of Walt Disney. Try the tour that offers a tempting taste of Loire wines from the Château d’Amboise, Charles VIII’s former home, but also take in the Manor du Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the final years of his life.
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