Southern Burgundy and Northern Rhone Valley - June 2018
The Northern Rhône region of France is the home of Syrah, the benchmark by which all are measured. Whether or not you think French Syrah is the best, one thing is for certain in terms of style, the Northern Rhône produces Syrah and Viognier unlike anywhere else. Two truly fascinating regions!
MACON - BLACE, Friday 15
After meeting our guide in sunny Macon, we’ll have a great tasting at the very small and brilliant Pouilly-Fuisse’s producer – Domaine Domaine Cornin, before heading south along the Beaujolais wine route. The region divides neatly into two sections. In the north are the 10 famous crus, named after their own village, such as the ever-popular Fleurie, Morgon, Chiroubles or Regnié. These are the higher quality, more expensive wines, while further south, below the towering Mont-Brouilly, we enter classic Beaujolais country, where the reputation may not match the crus, but prices are far cheaper and there are still some wonderful winemakers to discover. The countryside here – known as La Terre des Pierres Dorées, the land of the golden stones – is breathtaking. Your hotel is in Blacé and dinner is in a hamlet of the same village.
BLACE, Saturday 16
Today we’ll taste in the Crus in Morgon at Dominique Piron’s vineyard. Dominique Piron’s oldest known ancestor was born in Morgon in 1590. Since then, there have been 14 generations of wine growers in the family. Morgon and Moulin à Vent wines have long been renowned among France’s finest wines.
In the afternoon, we will hike up Mont-Brouilly the local cone shaped hill to admire the views. It is covered in vineyards but the view from the top spreads over to the Alps and Mount Blanc. We will combine this walk with a trip to the old capital of the area, Beaujeu a quaint town with some lovely architecture and great local gift shops.
Dinner is planned in the mythical French village of Clochemerle (popularised by the novel). The auberge exists to keep this myth alive and they’ve got a Michelin star in their repertoire.
BLACE - LYON, Sunday 17
After checkout – we’ll meander south through the tiniest local roads and lovely villages to Lyon, France's second-most important city after Paris. Although Lyon doesn't often make it onto tourist itineraries, many cultural treasures await those who take the time to explore the city. With a history dating back to ancient Roman times, Lyon has earned a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The city boasts France's oldest ancient ruins, medieval quarters, and fine Renaissance houses. We will also visit the Confluence Museum – an architecturally interesting modern building that interprets anthropology, ethnology and the natural sciences through narrative exhibits.
The restaurants in Lyon are top notch, and the warm inviting atmosphere of the early summer means the ambience will be always fun and friendly. For dinner we will be visiting a new young chef and his restaurant ‘Atelier des Augustins’.
LYON - RHONE VALLEY - ESTRABLIN, Monday 18
Today we’ll hit the road driving the short distance to Vienne, where we will spend much of the day. Vienne is a city that has received the "City of Art and History" label, offering lovers of history the opportunity to visit the Gallo-Roman Museum of Saint-Romain-en-Gal, and the medieval village of Malleval. Located between the Rhône River and the hills, it has been occupied since earliest Antiquity. It has preserved a rich heritage from its long past, including monuments dating back to ancient times. The Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, housed in the old 19th-century corn exchange on Place de Miremont, contains collections of Gallo-Roman objects, French earthenware, and paintings dating from the 14th to the 20th centuries.
ESTRABLIN - AMPUIS - ESTRABLIN, Tuesday 19
The day will start with a visit to France’s second largest market, in the city centre of Vienne (for the earlybirds, if not a sleep-in). Offering a host of local produce and specialties at over 5 km of stands, it's a gourmet's paradise!
Afterwards a tasting at Domaine Gerin in Ampuis. Located in Cote-Rotie, these wines draw all their character and distinctive flavour from the very steep slopes, with gradients of at least 60°. The narrow terraces are where you find the finest Syrah grapes growing (along with a small portion of the white grape Viognier).
ESTRABLIN - TOURNON - ESTRABLIN, Wednesday 20
Today, will be spent around Tain and exploring some of the hidden sights in Tournon including a 2 hours bicycle ride on the ViaRhona cycle path along the Rhone river. The twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage lie nestled among vineyards between the Rhône River and the granite slopes of the Hermitage. Enjoy Tournon, one of France’s oldest medieval cities, with its imposing 16th-century castle and Roman ruins. In the afternoon we will be tasting at Domaine Gilles Robin - where he produces wines that are powerful, elegant and precise - great representations of Crozes–Hermitage!
ESTRABLIN - TAIN L’HERMITAGE - ESTRABLIN, Thursday 21
Today the wine tasting is of a top quality and those with a sweet tooth can get involved at a high quality artisanal chocolatier. The time for filling your bags with tasty souvenirs is ripe. Wine tastings are Domaine Courbis a family estate dating back to the 16th century and Domaine du Colombier quite simply one of the best producers of Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage. A walk to the Cite du Chocolat at Valrhona, a museum and chocolate tasting place are on the program as well.
ESTRABLIN - LYON, Friday 22
After breakfast, a transfer to either of Lyon’s train stations for departure.