Vines and Wines: Swirl, Sip, and Savor in 5 French Wine Regions
There are many reasons to go to France: idyllic countryside, splendid architecture, dynamic culture, and unparalleled cuisine. Then, there is the wine…!
From the full-bodied reds of Bordeaux to the flinty whites found in Northern Burgundy, French barge cruises offer an insider’s view into the vines and wines along any cruise route. Join us for vineyard visits and sommelier-selected samples as we introduce five French wine regions with some of our favorite tastings, tours, appellations, and pairings. Chin-chin from the Barge Ladies!
With 8,880 acres of vineyards, the classification most widely available in Northern Burgundy is called simply “Chablis.” These dry white wines are derived from the Chardonnay grape and are characterized by their purity, crispness, sophistication and minerality. Chablis pairs well with lighter dishes such as poultry and seafood, making these exceptional elixirs the perfect go-to for al fresco summer luncheons or a grilled salmon dinner.
Lily Heise, Barge Lady Cruise Correspondent and guest of the barge Luciole, confirms, “Our first dish, pan seared scallops with roasted shallot puree, was accentuated by perfectly paired wines from boutique wineries of Chablis and the surrounding Yonne Valley.”
On the Charming, 12 guest Luciole, a tour and tasting in the vineyards of Chablis spotlights the sippable secrets of Chardonnay grape.
Bordeaux, the most westerly wine region in France is known mainly for its robust red wines from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot grapes. From strong tannin content to subtle chocolate undertones, these wines deliver a rustic flavor profile of loamy tobacco and earthy finishes. Rich dishes, such as pasta, steak, and stews, provide the complementary cuisine. And don’t forget to try some of the world’s best sweet dessert wines, the Sauternes, that are also produced here.
Peter Carrington, co-owner and Host of the barge Saint Louis, reveals, “Pairing Sauternes with Fourme d’Ambert, a semi-hard blue cheese from the Auvergne region dating back to Roman times, is a winner when served on the barge.”
On the Charming, 6 guest Saint Louis, a hosted tasting of sweet Sauternes reveals the region’s liquid sunshine.
As you enjoy the potent mix of French and German cultures in this region, be sure to swirl, sip, and savor some Riesling, a dry white wine with a zesty, zippy finish. Citrusy and sassy, these approachable wines pair perfectly with seafood and salads. Ava Roxanne Stritt, Barge Lady Cruise Correspondent and guest of the barge La Nouvelle Etoile, shares, “On my cruise, wine was a high priority, since we were floating through the wine route of Alsace, France.”
“Tasting the wine at its source was a treat, but meeting the actual winemaker was a highlight of our trip!” Ava says. “Now, that’s the real deal, ripe with history and culture that you just can’t get in a regular wine tour.”
On the Ultra Deluxe, 8 guest La Nouvelle Etoile, guests sample the region’s exquisite Grand Cru wines at a private tasting.
In this playground of monarchs, studded with family owned chateaux, the white wines of Sancerre, Vouvray, and Pouilly-Fume are made from the Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, and Chenin Blanc grape. Smoky, mineral, and flinty finishes are also typical of these appellations, all attributes of fruit coaxed from limestone-rich soil. These astringent elixirs pair well with the region’s signature goat cheese, Crottin de Chavignol.
“Mersault-Charmes Cru 2013, Domaine Prieur-Brunet, and a Volnay Clos Des Chenes, Cru 2011, Domaine Chateau de Mersault were but two of the over 3,000 bottles selected from the vessel’s onboard wine cellar,” said writer Stacia Freeman and guest of the barge C’est la Vie.
On the Deluxe, 8 guest C’est La Vie, a visit to the vineyards of Sancerre showcases the region’s crisp and clean whites.
PROVENCE AND RHONE VALLEY
Nestled in the southeastern area of France, the Rhone River valley grows primarily Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier grapes. The Mediterranean climate ensures more than 200 days of sunshine, resulting in bold reds with fruity bouquets and juicy notes of plum and raspberry – the sweetness of summer in a glass! One of the most renowned appellations, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is found near Avignon and is visited on your Provence cruise on the barge Napoleon.
“A real highlight was visiting the world-famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the summer home of Avignon’s popes, where we indulged in an exclusive winetasting experience,” reports Olivia Liveng, Barge Lady Cruise Correspondent and guest of the barge Napoleon.
On the Deluxe, 12 guest Napoleon, the iconic elixirs of Provence are presented and poured both onboard and ashore.
A toast to Barge Lady Cruises! For more information about how to say “cheers” like the French, click here. For Barge Lady Stephanie‘s coverage about winetasting in Chablis, click here. To book a wine cruise in any of the regions listed above, click here.