Touring the Wine Regions of France with Pascale Bernasse, French Wine Explorers
Touring Tips, Pitfalls to Avoid While Collecting, Where to Go
About French Wine Explorers
I am happy to present an interview on a topic that is one of the most important to this Wine Wanderings newsletter: 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. They 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. I will be visiting Ch. Gazin again this summer, June 2022.
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, or simply download the .pdf interview transcription below.
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Tips for Wine 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.
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.)
Tips for Today’s International Travel
“Check with each country in your travel itinerary for their Covid testing and vaccination requirements. For instance, right now for France you need a vaccination pass for entry to many locations (like restaurants, trains, public places, etc.) Austria has among the strongest requirements. Each country’s requirements are updated often. Check before you leave for each destination country. You need to ensure success before you go.” – Pascale Bernasse, French Wine Explorers
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.) They are welcoming me back this June 2022, so stay tuned for that Wine Wanderings newsletter. The Chateau’s vineyards are situated right next to Petrus, one of the most sought-after wines in the world (at $8000 or so).
From the Champagne Region:
Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut, 2009 $104
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. The hospitality was warm and friendly. My favorite wine at the tasting was a signature wine for Billecart-Salmon, the rosé.
From the Burgundy Region:
Jean-Claude Boisset Aloxe-Corton Valozieres, Premier Cru 2018 $70
Wine Spectator 91 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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2022: Wines of Chile, Maipo and Colchagua, Great Cabs
Live from Prague: Where to Stay, What to See
Live from Bordeaux: Left and Right Bank
Live from Provence, France, the Home of Rosé: A Tour of Chateau D’Esclans
Visiting La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux: The Premier Museum of Wine
Super Tuscans of Italy: A Tour of Antinori’s Guado al Tasso in Bolgheri, Tuscany
Live from Venice and the Veneto Wine Region
Live from Barcelona: Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia
Live from Penedes: A Tour and Interview with Spain’s Largest Wine Family: Torres
and Priorat, Spain: Unique Wineries in Mountain Terraces
1881 Museum Napa Valley: A Transformation of the Oakville Grocery
Live from Provence, France
Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you! Was great to catch up again, have fun on your epic trip this summer!
Great interview. I loved her travel tips and her "ahha" wine moment.