Champagne (Wednesday, May 7) and Alsace (Thursday, May 8 and Friday, May 9) We begin our tour of France with a fine dinner at Auberge Saint Vincent in Ambonnay (Champagne), followed by a two-day visit to Alsace including winery visits to Marc Kreydenweiss and Kintzler, a fine restaurant meal at Chef Jean-Luc Brendel's Table Gourmet in Riquewihr, and an international gathering of online wine enthusiasts in Hunawihr; back to Paris Saturday for a quiet dinner with friends.
Bordeaux, Saint Emilion, Pomerol (Sunday, May 11 and Monday, May 12) Our tour with French Wine Explorers begins with dinner at Cafe Bordelaise in Bordeaux. An early start Monday takes us to the Right Bank for visits to the noteworthy Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau l'Evangile in Saint-Emilion, and the tiny, brand-new and impressive Chateau Acapella in Montagne-Pomerol. Lunch with wine at the L'Envers de Décor restaurant in the village of Saint Emilion. Later, on our own for dinner, we break out of the box for an Indian meal with beer at Punjab in Bordeaux.
Graves, Sauternes (Tuesday, May 13) Today we venture to Graves, for visits to Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion and its sibling, first-growth Chateau Haut-Brion. After lunch at Le Saprien restaurant in Sauternes, a rare visit and tasting at Chateau d'Yquem. Dinner, back in Bordeaux, at the innovative one-star restaurant Jean Ramet.
Saint Emilion, Pomerol (Wednesday, May 14) Back to the Right Bank today, we tour Chateau Canon La Gaffalière and Chateau Belair, with lunch at Auberge du Chateau de Cros Figeac. On our own in Bordeaux in the evening, we get together with friends at the casual oyster bar Chez Joël D.
The Médoc (Thursday, May 15) And now we come around to the fabled Left Bank for two days of visits to leading producers in the Médoc. Today we tour Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac), Chateau Cos d'Estournel (Saint-Estephe), Chateau Margaux (Margaux) and Chateau Poujeaux (Moulis). The day's dining adventures take us to Pavilion de Margaux for lunch and Chez Dubern in Bordeaux for dinner.
The Médoc (Friday, May 16) Another day on the Left Bank takes us to Chateau Léoville Barton (St.-Julien), Chateau Latour (Pauillac) and Chateau Palmer (Margaux), with lunch at Le Saint Julien and the final dinner of the tour back in Bordeaux at Didier Gélineau. Our journey ends with the TGV back to Paris on Saturday, where we break from pattern again with an excellent if simple Asian lunch at Lotus de Thai near our hotel, and a light, casual dinner with friends at Muscade, an attractive bistro in the galleries of the Palais Royal.
The picturesque clock tower at Trimbach winery seen against a backdrop of steep vineyards in Ribeauvillé.
This is to be the travel and tasting diary of our spring 2003 visit to France, including brief stops in Paris; a night and a fine dinner in Ambonnay, a village in the Champagne region; two days touring the Alsatian wine route from a base in tiny Hunawihr; and a weeklong tour of Bordeaux as co-host with French Wine Explorers for a group of 14 wine lovers from the U.S. and Canada.
I am keeping detailed trip, food and wine tasting notes and taking dozens of photos as we go along. (We're on our first full day in Bordeaux as I write this on May 12, 2003.) I'll add more material to these pages as soon as time and Internet connectivity permit.
NOTE: Construction is now under way, but the links at right currently lead to incomplete pages. Keep checking, we'll have all the information and photos loaded before long!
French Wine Explorers plans another similar tour of top Bordeaux properties in July 2003. For more information on this exciting wine-travel opportunity and other great French wine tours led by experienced, English-speaking guides, click to the French Wine Explorers Website, http://www.wine-tours-france.com/.
I'm also pleased to announce that I'll join with French Wine Explorers again to co-host a tour of Champagne and Burgundy in May 2004. For more information about that tour, and to get your name on the list before it fills up, click to http://www.wine-tours-france.com/BurgundyWineTours.htm.