From the full-bodied reds of the Cote d’Or Burgundy to the flinty whites found exclusively in the Alsace-Lorraine, the wine experience on a Barge Lady cruise in France adds a uniquely epicurean dimension.
Guests enjoy hand-selected local and regional wine pairings with lunches and dinners, tasting up to 24 different vintages during their cruise. On shore, private visits to vineyards and vitners reveal the secrets of grape growing and winemaking. Pour a glass or two of your favorite white and join the Barge Ladies in Northern Burgundy as we explore the world of Chablis.
Made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes patiently coaxed from the mineral-rich soil of the Yonne River Valley, the white wine known as Chablis is renowned for the purity of its aroma and long finish of crisp acidity. One of the area’s elite Chardonnay vineyards, Domaine Brocard, produces wines across the range of Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru, and Chablis Grand Cru appellations. From his very first harvest in 1973, Jean-Marc Brocard, the son of a farmer, set out to create an eponymous wine aligned with the celebrated qualities, history, and tradition of Chablis.
Since its foundation, Jean-Marc has seen this bold vision come to delicious fruition, as the estate has steadily grown from one hectare of vines to over one hundred. Over the decades, the winery has employed other family members to whom the land’s heritage and preservation is of the utmost importance. In keeping with this multi-generational commitment, the Brocards are protective of their vineyard’s sustainability.
“Winemaking in France is now taking new routes towards sustainable, organic, and biodynamic viticultures,” reports Barge Lady Lori, our resident oenophile. “Accordingly, a significant portion of the Domaine Brocard’s fruit is now grown without pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or growth stimulants, certifying these Chablis wines as either organic or biodynamic.”
As the barge Luciole cruises in Northern Burgundy within 10 miles of the Brocard estate, her lucky guests are regularly welcomed for guided tours and hosted tastings. Upon arrival via private vehicle to the winery, an astonishing vista of vines, sky, and sunshine awaits.
A stop in the underground tasting room to learn about the land’s eons of history begins the tour, and an explanation of the different types of barrels in which the wine is aged then follows. Along the way, it is revealed how the sun affects the growth and taste of the grapes, informing the varietal and classifications of the wines. From the second story of the public facility, a breathtaking view of the Brocard’s expansive vineyards is visible.
Guests then enter the onsite tasting bar to sample five types of Chablis, including an organic selection from the Brocard’s biodynamic varietal (the latter is consistently mentioned as a favorite thanks to its fruity notes and zesty acidity!). Passengers cruising aboard our vessels in Northern Burgundy will experience tastings here, as well as at other regional wineries both established and emerging.
“The terroir of the Northern Burgundy is particularly fascinating and unique,” reveals Penny Liley, owner and operator of the Luciole. “Local vineyards such as Brocard are well represented in the Luciole’s onboard cellar with Chablis and the Yonne Valley on our doorstep.”
A toast to the barges of Northern Burgundy; Jean-Marc and the famille Brocard; and most of all, to the Barge Ladies, all of whom look forward to returning to the historic and welcoming vineyards of Chablis.