We arrive in the heart of the region and travel north exploring the very best that the Rhône has to offer, from the very floral whites of Condrieu, to the exemplary Syrahs of the Côte Rôtie and Hermitage Hill and, of course, Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
We explore both the traditional and the modern winemakers of this region, tucked away in South East France. We follow the course of the great Rhône Valley, which winds through the vine-covered hills, picturesque towns and, above all, superlative wineries.
Throughout this seven day tour, we stay in some truly wonderful hotels and enjoy spectacular meals including in Lyon – the gastronomic capital of the region. with so much impeccable choice when it comes to wine, food and hospitality there really is no place like Rhône.
Travel through this iconic region stopping off at the world-class places for which it’s famed, including Domaine Vidal Fleury, the oldest working estate, and the prestigious Brunel family estate at Château de la Gardine. To complement these fine wines the Rhone Valley offers the perfect accompaniments from charcuterie boards, authentic cheese fondue and is even home to the most prestigious chocolate producer in France.
Upon arrival, we will enjoy a welcome dinner before returning to our hotel in the heart of Orange for the night to unwind before our tour begins.
After breakfast this morning, we transfer via minibus to the start of our morning’s walk to the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The walk takes us through famous vineyards where Grenache and Syrah are grown. We will also see the famous “pudding stones”, which absorb the sun’s heat during the day and keep the vines warm at night. En route, we stop at the family run Domaine Font de Michelle for a tasting. When we reach our destination, we can look around the 14th century château, wander the medieval streets near Place du Portail or perhaps simply sit down with a glass of wine and some lunch. In the afternoon, we walk through the vineyards to our next tasting. The Brunel family have been making wine at Château de la Gardine since the 17th century and after our sampling session here, we return to our hotel for a free evening in Orange.
Our day begins with a transfer to the nearby town of Vaison-La-Romaine, from where we start our walk through the woods and vineyards towards Séguret. One of France’s most beautiful villages, we stop at Domaine de Mourchon for a picnic and also sample a glass or two of the fantastic wines produced here. After lunch, we walk to Domaine de Cabasse, which is our next hotel and enjoy a tasting of the wines produced on this estate. Dinner tonight will be independent, but there is a fantastic on-site restaurant and if you fancy venturing a little further, we can arrange a taxi to take you into one of the local towns.
This morning, we walk between the famous Cotes-de-Rhone villages just under the Dentelles de Montmirail, which are the foothills of the majestic Mont Ventoux. Later, we arrive at Clos de Caveau, where we will be shown the vineyards and given a thorough introduction to the wines of the Vacqueyras appellation and the domaine itself. Lunch will be enjoyed here and our menu will showcase regional specialities made with ingredients produced on-site. The wines, which are from relatively high vineyards, are very elegant. After lunch, we walk in the shadow of Dentelles de Montmirail into the Beaumes de Venise appellation, famous for its sweet wines made from Muscat grapes. At Domaine de Durban, which is considered among the top estates, we will try some of this sweet wine. Following another independent dinner, we will return to our hotel for the night.
Today we set off in the direction of the Northern Rhone, which is a ninety-minute drive away. Once our journey is complete, we visit Jean-Luc Colombo, who believes that balanced, ripe fruit is essential for making fine wine and he encourages organic viticulture where possible. The wines he produces – which we will sample – are big and plummy, with plenty of concentration and personality, and they have the structure to age well. Afterwards, there will be some free time available in Tain l’Hermitage where you can join your guides on a walk around the famous Hermitage hill, which is considered “the spiritual home” of Syrah. In the late afternoon, we visit Valrhona Chocolate, the most prestigious chocolate producer in France and then we sit down to a delicious group dinner in the evening.
The minibus takes us to the start point of our walk, near Condrieu, this morning. There are some steep sections to this route as we explore the famous slopes of the appellatio. Viognier is the sole grape variety here and it thrives on the steep, south-facing slopes. We visit Domaine Yves Cuilleron, where the owner’s dynamism and talent helped him to rapidly build an impressive reputation. After lunch, we walk the Cote Rotie between the Cotes Blonde and Brune, to the town of Ampuis. Our destination is Domaine Vidal Fleury, an estate that was founded in 1781 and is now the oldest estate in the area that still operates. During our visit, we will be treated to a tasting of the wines it is known for. We return to Tain l’Hermitage later this afternoon, where our evening will be spent at leisure.
Today we depart for home.