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Tips on Touring French Wine Regions
An interview with Pascale Bernasse, French Wine Explorers
About French Wine Explorers
As I just returned from traveling through several prominent France wine regions, I am happy to present again an interview on this topic: Touring the Wine Regions of the World. My interview features Pascale Bernasse, President of French Wine Explorers. In 2016 I took three of the wine tours offered by French Wine Explorers, including tours to Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. Those trips were three of the most in-depth and exclusive wine tours I have ever experienced. Included in the Burgundy tour was a tasting of all the Grand Cru wines of that region. The Bordeaux excursion included First Growth Chateau tours and tastings and visits to exclusive Pomerol and St. Emilion wine region, including a visit to Chateau Gazin-- with one of the suggested wines below. Over the years, I have taken Pascale’s tips to heart…..travel insurance, carry-on’s only, and seasonal tourism issues- pay attention!
In the interview Pascale and I are discussing tips for wine touring, pitfalls to avoid when collecting fine French wines, and her favorite places to tour in France. Click the above link to view the full interview.
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Tips for Wine Country Touring
1. Make sure your trip is protected with travel insurance…the type called “cancel for any reason.” This eliminates fear and encourages you to be excited about your trip.
2. Try to take only non-stop flights when possible. Try to avoid checking bags for a shorter trip.
3. Focus on “slow travel.” Take your time. Immerse yourself in an area. Get the emotional return-on-investment you find with slow travel.
Pitfalls to Avoid if Collecting Fine French Wines
Per Pascale Bernasse, this is most important: “Understand the provenance of the wine, especially for older vintage or very expensive wines like some in Burgundy that can cost up to $25,000 a bottle. And what is a wine’s provenance?: who owned it before (perhaps by a private collector), how it was stored (e.g., light and heat influence) in a wine shop, and how it was transported. Wine Fraud has been well-documented. Remember: Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware).”
(Editor’s Note: see the exposé on counterfeiter /wine-seller, Rudy Kurniawan, in the documentary, Sour Grapes.)
Wine Wanderings Wine Recommendations
(from My Previous French Wine Explorer Tours)
From the Bordeaux Region:
Jancis Robinson 17++ of 20 points
Tasting Notes: Rich and intense with juicy raspberry and blackberry preserve flavors with a dusty feel at the end. Lots of juice and refinement. Drinks well until 2040.
Tour Notes: I loved the tour with the 5th generation owners/brothers of Château Gazin, Christophe and Nicolas de Bailliencourt, in the Pomerol Region (right bank of Bordeaux.) The Chateau’s vineyards are situated right next to Petrus, one of the most sought-after wines in the world (at $8999 or so).
From the Champagne Region:
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, NV $100
Robert Parker, 94 points
Tasting Notes: An ideal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with citrusy and nutty notes, a delicate mousse, and persistent finish.
Tour Notes: I loved the tour there this year. The hospitality was warm and friendly. My favorite wine at the tasting was a signature wine from Billecart-Salmon, the special Cuvé Rosé, Millésime, Elizabeth Salmon. A Fall Wine Wanderings newsletter will bring you up to date on their portfolio.
From the Burgundy Region:
2019 Jean-Claude Boisset Les Ursulines Pinot Noir, Burgundy $27
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points.
Tasting Notes: This is a lovely red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) that exudes intense aromas of red fruits and spices…. a very affordable red Burgundy.
“I was fortunate to run into Jean-Charles Boisset at his Burgundy estate when I toured the Burgundy region with French Wine Explorers. He warmly welcomed us to Burgundy. Previously, I had met Jean-Charles while completing a brief internship at his Napa Valley wine estate, Raymond Vineyards. It’s a small world.” See 2021 Interview at Raymond Vineyards.
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