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THE RIVERS REVOLUTION WINE CRUISE
Ihave quaffed plenty of wine over the years.
But I had never had a proper tasting lesson
until I joined a shore tour to Beaujolais while on
an APT river cruise from Arles to Lyon.
Our classroom was the 400-year-old
Domaine Paire in the glorious Pierres
Dorées ("golden stones") area and our
teacher was Jean-Jacques Paire, a 16th-
generation family winemaker.
Jean-Jacques and his son Guillaume farm
10 hectares of organically grown Gamay vines,
producing the light-bodied red wine typical
of the region.
One of the joys of learning this way is that
your classroom is the vineyard, and there is
plenty of the subject matter around in case you
need to do some homework.
Jean-Jacques explains the basics of the
wine-producing cycle while we admire the
view and play with the grape-pickers' dog. The
grape harvest is three weeks later than usual
because of the unseasonal rain. Like Australian
farmers, the grape growers of the region live at
the mercy of the weather.
Once we've settled inside the vineyard's
cellars, which also house a collection of vintage
wine-making tools, our lesson begins. Jean-
Jacques takes us through the three key steps of
wine appreciation: sight, smell and taste.
He explains in simple terms what the "robe",
or different colours, mean; demonstrates
swirling the liquid around the glass for the
"second nose"; and shows us how to look for
"tears" (also called legs) to check the viscosity
and alcohol content.
We also learn a few useful phrases to bandy
around so we can sound like real connoisseurs
-- particularly while sniffing knowingly into
For red wines, you refer to red fruits ("mmm,
there's a lot of raspberry/blackcurrant/plum in
this one"); for white wines, mention white fruits
such as apple or lime, depending on where
the wine is produced; and, if it is a white wine
that has an "onion" colour, Jean-Jacques advises
"please use it for cooking only".
For an enthusiastic amateur, it's a fascinating
experience. Serious oenophiles can take a
European river cruise and organise their own
visits to vineyards as well as the tours included
in the fare. But the major river cruise operators
offer wine-themed excursions that feature
specialist lectures, meetings with vintners and
tastings at local cellars and vineyards.
At the time of going to print, demand for
European river cruises is at an all-time high,
particularly for wine and gourmet itineraries.
So if you're planning to go in 2014, you need to
book pretty quickly for end-of-year departures,
and be prepared to book now for 2015.
Tour vineyards and wine caves, eat
in cafes and gourmet restaurants...
welcome to the Canal Du Midi, a
240-kilometre long waterway that winds its
way through France's Languedoc-Rouissillon
region, where gastronomy meets history.
Located between mountains, valleys and
the sea, the area benefits from many flavours
and local dishes such as the Cassoulet of
Castelnaudary, the pates de Pezenas and
the snails and "bourrides" of Narbonne. It
is also steeped in history, with stunning
cathedrals and grand chateaux, and is one of
the world's largest wine producing regions,
accounting for about 2 billion bottles of
wine each year.
vessel from Le Boat.
Le Boat offers a range of itineraries
and options with five bases in the region,
allowing you to customise your ideal
gastronomic adventure. Cruise by the
magnificent Carcassonne, famous for its
fortified medieval town La Cité. Or visit
Castelnaudary where the 4th Foreign
Regiment of the French Foreign Legion is
based. Because it is a self-drive cruise, you
can stop wherever you like for however long
you like and don't have to rush a thing.
Le Boat's canal cruisers accommodate
from two to 12 people and vary from budget
to luxury class. All the creature comforts
you would expect in a holiday home are
provided: fully equipped galleys, hot
and cold running water, lounges, ensuite
showers and toilets.
Unique to Le Boat -- and unlike other
cruisers on the waterways -- Le Boat
Vision 1500 was built by world-renowned
Bénéteau, and features the very latest
marine technology for efficient and
With no experience required (you receive
a full briefing before departure), you can
cruise the waterways, stop by the canals to
have picnics and even ride your Le Boat bike
to the local bakery.
For more details phone Le Boat on
1800 118 940 or see leboat.com.au.
AT YOUR OWN PACE
WORDS: SALLY MACMILLAN
Wine-themed river cruises in Europe are a qua er's
dream -- and they're selling out fast.
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