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Vin en Vacances

016Every year we run some long weekends of wine and food tasting tours in the Languedoc and last weekend we ran one called ‘The Gourmet Corbières Tour’. Eight people booked their places so the tour was full and I arranged for them to stay at a super B&B ran by a wonderful cook called Elisabeth in the village of Lagrasse. They arrived on Thursday night, all Brits and only 4 of them already knew each other but the group gelled beautifully and I think they will remain great friends.

The tour began on Friday and was run by Carlos, one of the newest members to the Vin en Vacances team and a great asset. His talented language skills, his knowledge of the region, wines and history plus his ability to create a great rapport with everyone made the day a superb success. The group visited 2 fabulous vineyards in the Boutenac area of the Corbières and were welcomed in to the garden of a private house, owned by friends of Vin en Vacances, for a delicious lunch.Carlos

Saturday is market day in the pretty village of Lagrasse and Carlos took the group for a wander around the stalls explaining the produce and translating answers to the many questions. He then took them for a history walk and I joined them half way through. In that time I learnt so much that I am determined to join the full tour next time. We then went wine tasting at the wine shop called Les Vins Sur le Fruit in the medieval market place in the village where Laurent treated us to a tasting of white, red and some stunning sweet wines including Maury, that delicious sweet red wine that I love to pair with chocolate. Afterwards we took the scenic drive into the hills to a trout farm and restaurant called Le Moulin Neuf de Lanet for what turned out to be the pièce de résistance of the entire weekend for some of us. The food is stunning and prepared by a chef who abandoned his Michelin career to live in the tranquil Corbières away from the stress of the high life. The kitchen is inside the dining room and one of our guests watched him make every dish, she was transfixed by his incredible skill.

013Could the afternoon match up? Yes it did for a we visited a man full of passion for his subject of Bio Dynamic wine making which he explained beautifully and we tasted the fruits of his labour.

Sunday saw us driving to the village of Tauchan to meet my good friend Katie Jones of award winning Domaine Jones where we were going to learn the art of assemblage by blending our own Fitou. The group had swelled to 12 people as were joined by 4 Americans so Katie and I divided them into 3 groups of 4 people. Each group was given 4 wines: a Grenache, a Carignan, a Syrah without oak and one with oak. Armed with the measuring tubes and small empty bottles they took 3 attempts to find their preferred blend working within the confines of the blending rules stipulated by the appellation. Katie’s husband Jean-Marc tasted the final wines and chose the winning team who each received a prize, a bottle of Katie’s delicious Muscat.

Then we headed into the vineyard to a secret spot I know by a trickling stream, shaded by Plane trees and surrounded by vineyards for a gourmet picnic.031

Back in Lagrasse the rest of the day was spent snoozing in the garden or strolling by the river in Lagrasse and some headed off to the 1900 museum to discover more history of the region. The weekend came to a fabulous close with a 5 course gourmet dinner prepared by Elisabeth at the B&B. I had chosen a different wine to pair with each course so the wine flowed and the conversation was peppered with plenty of laughter and we were all very merry and mellow when we headed off to bed.

The sun had shone every day, the wine and food were tremendous and the company fabulous. We will definitely be running this tour again next year so for more details take a look at our web site but if you can’t wait until then we are running another fabulous wine & food tour in the pretty village of Neffies near Pézenas in October, take a look at the itinerary, it will make your mouth water!

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