Bordeaux (St Emilion) & Cognac by Train
Arblaster & Clarke’s Classic Wine Tours by train are becoming an important part of our repertoire and we are pleased to include this special trip taking in the beautiful traditional wine town of St Emilion as well as the attractive river-front town of Cognac, for one of the world’s most revered spirits.
St. Emilion is undoubtedly the loveliest town in the region, which is why we have chosen to base the tour here. This picturesque medieval hilltop town has a maze of cobbled streets and ancient buildings – the two dominant monuments are the hilltop spire and the keep, both commanding good views over the rooftops and to the vineyards that surround the town. The famous 8th-12th century Monolithic church is the largest underground church in Europe hewn out of solid limestone. Apart form the numerous wine shops in the village (where you can often taste some wines too) you must try the other local speciality, macaroons. In addition to a good choice of traditional restaurants and brasseries there is also a superb Michelin rosette restaurant, which you can treat yourself to on one of the evenings if you wish.
Wine-wise here in St Emilion of course we are in what is known as the “Right Bank”. The soils, topology and grape mix here are totally different to those on the “Left Bank” (i.e. the Médoc), and the resulting wines are also very different. Although the soils are quite diverse, the major contributor is limestone. As a general rule, the wines of St Émilion are far more fruit-driven than wines from the Médoc. They are far more approachable, and generally not as long lived. This difference is explained, to a great extent, by the grape mix. In St Émilion Cabernet Sauvignon is far less important. The star varietal here is Merlot, generally with Cabernet Franc as its counterbalance.
Our first full day of wine touring will be on foot within St Emilion itself and just outside – a pleasant rest after the previous day’s journey. Lunch is as guests of the great Château Canon, St Emilion 1èr Grand Cru Classé.
Our next day starts with a visit to the stylish Château La Lagune in Ludon Médoc. Followed by lunch at a well known Château in the famous commune of Margaux. In the afternoon we have time to visit the majestic city of Bordeaux itself, for shopping in the elegant boulevards or perhaps a visit to the magnificent Cathedral.
Next day, we have one last Bordeaux wine visit, to one of the great Pomerol names, ‘Petit Village’. Pomerol is the other high point on the ‘Right Bank’. Although Pomerol is usually lusher than St Emilion, Petit Village is one of the more structured wines.
We move on to Cognac in time for lunch at one of the great artisan Cognac producers, then time to visit the town after lunch. On the last morning we plan a visit to the illustrious House of Hine before continuing to Angoulême for a couple of hours free time over lunchtime, and then to catch your return train to London.
Extend your stay with our Autumn Champagne wine tour
It is possible to join our Autumn Champagne tour immediately after this trip on the journey home. We will arrange for you to catch a direct train on the last day at around 11.00 which goes directly to Champagne-Ardennes just under 4 hours later (with no change of train). This conveniently gives you time to check into the hotel in Reims in advance of the main party, and so that you can join in with the first comparative tasting of the Champagne tour on the evening of the 29th October. The entire combination price is: £1779 per person (based on twin/ double) including transfer to Angouleme station and first class train to Champagne-Ardennes, from where you will need to catch a taxi (payable locally). You can then return with the Champagne party by coach to London (included), or catch a train back to Paris or London (for an additional cost).