France's Wine Country
It may have taken a little longer than anticipated but I am now at my last post for France even though it is six weeks later. It would only make sense that this post is about our last day of our trip; a tour through parts of France’s wine country.
|Samantha and I in Sancerre, in the heart of France's wine country.
Months prior to our trip, Samantha and I had known that we had wanted to go to Paris but also spend a few days elsewhere. Our choices were either the French Riviera or a chateau on a winery. As you may know, we spent a few days in Nice and passed on the winery. However, since we had a lot of time to spend in Paris, I wanted to see if it was possible to do a day trip through a few vineyards. We did this with my family while visiting Florence and it was fantastic so I wanted to see if it was possible again. After doing some research, I came across the most highly reviewed tour, Paris Wine Day Tours.
|One of the few cellars we would visit.
In a previous post, I mentioned my disdain for large group tours; yet our day in wine country was quite the opposite. No more than 8 people are allowed on a tour per day and each tour is with the owner, JB, who was fabulous. JB has such a knowledge and passion for both wine and France that he makes the tour not only informative, but very entertaining. He will also go out of his way to make sure each one of his guests has a great time. So much so, that when I was looking to book my tour back in March, he did not have the day we were looking to go. I emailed JB and he gladly opened up a tour on my requested day.
|Our guide for the day, JB.
The day starts out with an early morning drive into the countryside of France. During the 90 minute drive, JB provides coffee, fresh pastries and some brief information on what we will be seeing that day. Each tour that JB offers may be a little different than the last. Therefore what Samantha and I did might be slightly different if you ever decide to go. The three regions that we were visiting were Burgundy, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume.
|Samantha and I in the middle of a vineyard
Our first stop was in Burgundy were we pulled over in the middle of this vast vineyard with a small French town in the background providing a picturesque French setting. It was our first lesson of day, learning about the different types of soil that make up the French wines, which provide the most important characteristic, flavor. We also learned that if you were to buy a bottle of French wine, do not expect to see the type of wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc. You will only see the region and you must know that a white wine from the Sancerre region is made from a Sauvignon Blanc grape hence you are in fact ordering a Sauvignon Blanc.
|Our first stop in the vineyards for the day.
Our next stop was at a goat farm where the tasting begun. It was also where we were able to interact with the owners of the farms and vineyards. It was very clear that they were all ardent about their trade and that it was a true family business as it had been passed down from generation to generation. In fact when in Sancerre, if you wish to own a vineyard, the only way is to have it passed down through your family or marry into it.
|Samantha and I entering the farm.
At the goat farm we toured the grounds, interacted with the animals and owners, and got a first-hand look in how to create different ages of goat cheese. Yet the best part for both Samantha and I was yup, you guessed it…tasting the cheese. We tasted the three different aged cheeses as well as a piece of nugget. Samantha and I both enjoyed the freshest cheese and not only walked out with a piece of that but homemade jelly, cookies and a nugget bar.
|Fresh goat cheese.
Afterwards we made our first stop at a chateau and met our first wine maker. The region was Pouilly-Fume and the wines we tasted were white and rose (pronounced Roh-ze). We were brought through the entire wine making process from the separation of the different soil types in large stainless steel vats to the finished bottled product. We of course got to taste the wine, not only the bottled products but through each step along the way (see below). Oh and did I mention they are very generous when it comes to refills, the tasting slowly became a Monday Fun-Day.
|Samantha at the chateau.
|Tasting the wine directly from the steel vat.
After a French lunch in a small town we stopped in the hillside village of Sancerre. Small narrow streets, views overlooking hundreds of acres of vineyards and quintessential stores and cafes you would expect on any French town. After an hour of taking in Sancerre we visited a chateau in the region. Once again we learned all about the wines of Sancerre and after a tasting of one wine past tipsy I found myself a new favorite white wine. And just like the last chateau, Samantha and I walked away with a few bottles of French wine putting our limit to take home at the max. (Just a hint, French wine makers are not out to make a profit when you visit them so the bottles are very very cheap)
|Village of Sancerre.
|We were ready for the next tasting.
Sadly, our day spent in France’s wine country came to an end. I walked away from the experience with much more knowledge about wine, seven bottles of wine and a yearning to head back to France’s vineyards for much more than a day next time. However, if you do only have a day to spare from Paris, I would highly recommend JB’s day tour. It was a perfect way to spend our last day in France and it also provided Samantha and I with the supplies for a perfect picnic to end our trip in our favorite spot, sitting by the Seine River.
|A fantastic day sipping wine and exploring the countryside of France.