Wine Travel Guides announces sponsorship of the wine tour to end all wine tours, which will take place in April 2010. This will be your chance to experience the great wine regions of France cruising along the historic waterways of France. The 10-day exclusive Lightning Cruise will see you supping some of the finest wines of the world on the luxury SS Dom Pérignon in the company of some prize-winning British Masters of Wine.
Great wine has always been produced close to rivers and wine used to be transported along the waterways to its traditional customers, the royal courts of Europe. Now wine geeks can follow wine’s journey on our specially designed cruise ship, which will transport you along rivers that have been made navigable exclusively for us as one of the new French Ministry of Wine Tourism’s initiatives.
Meet the ship in Nantes (RyanAir will fly you in from an outlying airport in London – don’t forget to pay the extra for proper life-jackets – NOT included in our price). Then we cruise up the Loire river, with a side visit along the Layon tributary. Here we will examine botrytis spores with a Master of Wine winner of the technical detail prize – 5cl tastes of the famous dessert Grand Crus Bonnezeaux and Quarts de Chaume will be available (or half bottles of Coteaux de l’Aubance for non-wine-reverent spouses).
After a demi-tour back to the Loire we cruise on through Tours and Orléans, then turn northwards along a linking canal to the Seine for a stop in Paris for a firework display by the Bastille (we hope for an appearance from top French wine journalists who’ve been interred for failing to display a health warning on their articles).
Next we join the Marne river to visit the original shipyard near Epernay, where the SS Dom Pérignon was built from trees grown on the Montagne de Reims. We plan a lively debating evening whilst there about whether Merrett of England or Dom Pérignon himself actually invented Champagne – leader of the debate here will be a winner of the Master of Wine’s Bollinger Prize. (A Karaoke alternative may be made available to non-wine-bore spouses).
From the Marne we spit onto the stately Saône River that runs through parts of Burgundy. Here, choose from side visits either to Jurassic Park home to Vin Jaune with owner of Wine Travel Guides, or to examine pruning at the exclusive Clos de Tart with one of our increasingly common lady Masters of Wine.
Ever southwards towards the great Rhône river we make a stop first in the Beaujolais vineyards for another evening debate: “Beaujolais – Vin de Merde ou pas Vin de Merde?. This will be led by a Master of Wine founder of the Beaujolais Nouveau race – and bets will be taken on the result of the debate – it’s sure to be a fun evening (we will taste samples of the ten Beaujolais cruises during the debate).
Following a gastronomic extravaganza in Lyon with one of our larger-than-life Masters of Wines, our cruise ship will head down the Rhône to Marseille stopping to collect pebbles from the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. (You will receive a full explanation from a newly pontificated Master of Wine of why, in a bid to reduce ever-increasing alcohol levels, the pebbles need to be removed – first-hand evidence of global warming effects).
A little over half-way through our cruise near Marseille, our luxury ship will slip from the Rhône estuary into the Mediterranean for some sea breezes. We will tie up for the evening to allow those who wish, to visit the night clubs of Marseille, whilst others enjoy a guided, comparative tasting of the organoleptic effects of sea breezes on the wine tasting palate.
Into calming waters, we cruise into the famous Canal du Midi, sailing speedily past and ignoring the huge Languedoc vineyards through Béziers and Carcassonne towards the final important wine destination of our Lightning Cruise – Bordeaux.
Slowing down to appreciate the vineyards close to the Garonne River, with a detour to explore the Ciron, another nobly rotted tributary, we sail majestically into Bordeaux to meet our mega famous Master of Wine Jancis Robinson for a tutored tasting on the theme of “Why a Bordeaux Château is a Fool’s Domaine”.
At the end of our cruise, you will have ticked off the Loire, Paris, Champagne, Burgundy, Jura, Rhône, Provence, Languedoc, South-West and Bordeaux from your wine touring wish list and there will be only Alsace and Savoie to go if you want in future to say you’ve ‘done French wine regions’ – all thanks to the Wine Travel Guides Lightning Cruise.
Other cruises run by the Cruising Rivers and Canals Company (CRAC) include The Bonus Cruise: Explore the great Banking Capitals by river and lake (Geneva/Zurich) hosted by Top Investment Bankers; and The Motor Cruise: Visit Europe’s finest Car Manufacturers along the Rhine and its tributaries hosted by recently retired Formula 1 Drivers.
Dates for the Lightning Cruise sponsored by Wine Travel Guides will be April 1st – 10th 2010. Prices start at £10,410/$10,410/€10,410. Places are limited to 10,410 people, so please contact us fast to make your reservations.
For other interesting wine stories published on 1st April 2009 do check out the Dregs Report.