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Canal du Midi - France
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Wine Appreciation Cruise

Have you a passion for wine? Would you like to have your own personal Master of Wine accompany you while you visit some of the renowned vineyards of the Languedoc?

Explorer Cruise with Master of Wine, Juliet Bruce Jones

This cruise is for those who love wine but also want to see the sites of the Languedoc and visit the bustling markets for which the south of France is famed.

By alternating sightseeing days with wine days, it provides the perfect balance between sightseeing, wine tasting, and cruising, ensuring that you get the best out of your barge holiday in the Languedoc.

The Languedoc is the largest and one of the most dynamic wine regions in the world. Discover its fabulous wines as you cruise with your expert, personal guide, Master of Wine Juliet Bruce Jones.

During your days of wine discovery, you will:

After your pick up at about 5pm, you will be taken to where your barge is moored to meet the rest of your crew. We shall let you get settled in and unpacked which is the most strenuous part of your week. We will then enjoy a glass or two of the famous sparkling wine of Limoux, where "champagne" was invented and meet Juliet, our wine host for the week.

Wine day 1 - The Magic of Minervois

For our first full "wine day", we explore the diversity of the Minervois wine region which stretches across the foothills of the broodingly beautiful black mountains, east of Carcassonne. The two properties we will visit illustrate the different faces of this energetic region, the modern and dynamic in contrast to an historic property which produces the best wine in the world! Domaine St Jacques d'Albas is in the process of being beautifully restored by its current owner, Englishman Graham Nutter.

The cellar is full of gleaming stainless steel tanks and the state-of-the-art barrel cellar is a delight! The award-winning wines are made from traditional Languedoc varieties, Syrah, Grenache and Carignan and have a freshness and rich fruitiness which is very distinctive. Their top wine, La Chapelle, is named after the 11th chapel of St Jacques d'Albas which can be seen from the winery.

Press comments on Languedoc wines "The southern French winegrowing regions of Languedoc and Roussillon provide rich terrain for fine wine discoveries. Some real gems are available..." Wine Spectator. "The Languedoc-Roussillon — one of the undiscovered bastions of delicious, value-priced wines" Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate. "Increasingly the Languedoc offers the greatest concentration of hand-crafted French wines with real individuality for under €10 a bottle" Jancis Robinson, The Financial Times. "The best wines of the Languedoc are concentrated and powerful Syrah based reds which offer the meaty flavours and the ageing potential, of the nearby Rhone valley." Wine Spectator.

Our second visit is a real treat! Massamier la Mignarde, one of the leading properties in Minervois La Livinière, a subregion which is the source of the finest Minervois wines. This historic property, originally the site of a Roman villa, has been owned by the Vernet family for six generations. The impressive 17th century chateau, now the family home, is part of a collection of buildings which once housed several families who worked on the domaine. The top red wine, Domus Maximus, won the title of "Best Wine in the World" at a wine competition in London. Perhaps even better is their other Minervois red, Tenement de Garruilghas, which is fermented and aged in oak barrels.

Wine day 2 - Corbières and La Clape

Narbonne is the cradle of viticulture in the Languedoc where the Romans first planted vines. The Corbières region sprawls over the mountains between Narbonne and Carcassonne and we visit one of the most famous properties in the region whose wines are in much demand. We then pay a special visit to an organic domaine deep in the countryside of La Clape, towards the Mediterranean Sea. We start the day with a visit to Domaine La Voulte Gasparets, which has been in the Reverdy family for six generations. The Reverdys are perfectionists, which is clear to see from the state of their barrel cellar, as well as the quality of their wines.

The wines are widely exported and highly sought after. Domaine Pech-Redon is a stunning property perched high on the Clape Massif, a wild, rocky hill which separates Narbonne from the Mediterranean. The charismatic Christophe Bousquet will take us on a tour of his cellar and wines and explain the unique terroir of La Clape and his philosophy of organic viticulture.

Wine day 3 - Classy Vin de Pays and St Chinian

The Languedoc is full of contrasts and our visits today illustrate this vividly. The first visit is to an elegant chateau where we will taste in a lofty, vaulted cellar; the second is a one-man-band who makes excellent wine in a tiny garage. Chateau Perdiguier is a beautiful thirteenth century castle which is classed as an historic monument and is still family owned. We will have an exclusive tour of the family apartments and view the recently discovered frescoes in the tower before tasting the fine range of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the vaulted cellars.

We then meet up with winemaker Luc Bettoni who will take us on an intimate tour of his vineyards and tiny cellar. His first vintage at Domaine Les Eminades was in 2002 and he is set to become one of the stars of the future. He makes excellent red St Chinian, as well as a fine barrel-aged Sauvigon Blanc. As well as tasting his bottled wines, we will also have a sneak preview of future releases and taste in barrel.

Lunch and cruise.

Pre-dinner Mystery wine tasting! Juliet will arrange a blind tasting of six mystery Languedoc wines which involves matching wine descriptions to what you taste in the glass. No prior wine knowledge required but a sense of humour helps! A fun way to round off our week of wine exploration.

NOTE: As this is a guided theme cruise, a supplement to the standard charter fee will apply.

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