On the Road in France
We are sending all subscribers another short, plain-text edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor; regular weekly editions will resume May 15. (Please note that I am unable to respond to administrative requests such as address changes, unsubscribe or re-subscribe requests until we return home. Please pardon me if you have such a request pending, and be assured that I will respond to it promptly next week.)
A Hint on Wine Touring in Bordeaux
Should you have occasion to visit Bordeaux, as we did this past week, just about any wine lover is going to want to drop in on at least one or two of the region's many noteworthy chateaus.
Be aware, though, that wine touring in Bordeaux is substantially different than in Napa, Sonoma, or most other wine regions outside France. Because many of the wineries are old, they typically don't have open public tasting rooms as New World wineries usually do; and even some of the larger properties don't maintain public-relations or tasting-room staffs. So, frankly, although it is possible to drop in on a big-name Bordeaux winery without advance notice (and it's certainly not improper to ask), the chances are that if you try this approach you will be politely turned away far more often than welcomed in.
But the good news is that it is not only possible but usually easy to visit your favorites, and you don't need a connection in the wine business to do it. All you have to do is request an appointment in advance. It pays to do this from home, before you leave on your trip; a simple, polite request by mail or fax, expressing your interest in the winery and asking if it's possible to visit at a specific time and date, is all it takes. If you can speak a little French, it's best, but a request in English is usually acceptable, and may ensure that you have a tour guide who speaks at least a little English.
Finishing up with the obvious follow-up question: How do you locate contact information, addresses and fax numbers for your favorite Bordeaux chateaus? For the Medoc, generally regarded as the epicenter of Bordeaux wine, try the search engine at http://www.medoc-wines.com/page41.htm. Happy trails!
Have you had good luck getting appointments at top wineries around the world? If you have suggestions or good ideas about effective approaches, please pass them along by E-mail to email@example.com, and I'll discuss them in a future column. Because of my travel, I probably won't be able to respond until later in the month, but I appreciate your input, and it helps me do a better job of writing about wine.
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Europe Tasting Reports Coming Soon
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Vol. 2, No. 16, May 8, 2000