Paris & Bordeaux
Immerse yourself in European culture coupled with a variety of activities, such as an unforgettable cooking class and a luxurious spa treatment. And not just any old spa treatment, but one where the seeds and skins from the fermentation of the wine are used as an exfoliation agent for your full body massage. You will also enjoy intellectually stimulating visits to the hallowed grounds of some of world's top wine estates in the Medoc region and more, dinners with real Bordelais personalities such as Mr. Philippe Lur Saluces who will explain how the wine market works in Bordeaux. What's not to love?
Room and board includes perhaps the most enchanting guesthouse I have ever had the pleasure of staying in: Chateau Le-Pape in Pessac has a soul. I tell all of my guests before we go, and they feel it immediately upon entering the house. When you add interesting characters and good people from your group into the blend, sitting around the library floor fireside with a nice glass of Bordeaux on your lap, and playing a few hands of Gin. There is a swimming pool at the residence, and beautiful grounds perfect for taking one of the bicycles and going for a ride, or for enjoying a peaceful walk. One can read a book, take in nature, and just let it all go.
Upon our arrival at the estate on Sunday evening, a meal is prepared for us in the main dining room. If it's warm enough we can sit out on the veranda in the backyard. There ensues deep conversation, and the ambiance is unparalleled. The wine will flow and the fun is intrinsic. What I love about this moment is getting to know the guests better, hearing about their busy lives and most off all watching them slip into a sense of splendid relaxation over the following four days. Have you ever been lost in time and not worried about it one little bit? Doesn't seem too shabby now, does it?
A slice of France.
The French are very fussy about food. There is a sense of national pride in their great chefs. During my trip, we have a morning cooking class at Chateau Haut-Bailly where we will learn how to prepare some typical Bordelais specialties. This class is undertaken by the whole group, which is no more than twelve in total. The perfect number for a class as the teacher can contain the conversation and everyone emerges feeling they have accomplished something special.
Naturally enough cooking all morning leads to a healthy appetite. At Haut-Bailly there is a private dining room where we will be treated to lunch with Jean-Charles, one of the better chefs I have had the pleasure of knowing. We will taste some of the estate wines (Robert Parker gave the 2009 his highest score of 100 points, no mean feat) and get to know a little more of the estate, its culture, history and its standing in the world today.
I can tell you this is a remarkable day. Following a spa treatment in the afternoon, we usually have dinner out that evening. Each trip is bespoke, and only starts to get fully planned when we can put a group together of no less than eight guests and no more than ten. I take up the 6th room. If you have five couples in mind, better still friends an family, this trip is second to none!
Step out of your comfort zone.
This trip is for someone who is interested in learning something about wine, food, and who is inquisitive about some of the finer epicurean products available. By the end of the trip, you will know how to read the labels properly and understand the differences between Pomerol, St Emilion, Margaux & Pauillac.
We take a TGV train in France from Paris to Bordeaux with unknown surroundings. Yes, we take a train from Paris to Bordeaux and back again. I have a very adequate private Mercedes Sprinter which will take us everywhere in Bordeaux. We will explore the lifestyle in Paris, learn about the left bank and its cafe culture, making new acquaintances in an unfamiliar setting. You can smell the perfume and watch the new fashions and take in the style. It only lasts a moment, however the memories are forever.
You will stay in Paris on the front end over a Saturday night. We leave for Bordeaux on the Sunday afternoon. We will stay in Bordeaux for 4 nights, before returnng to Paris on the Thursday where we will spend the last evening together at dinner. Check out and departure will be the next morning which is a Friday.
The cost is $6,500 per person. Flights are on you. However, once you arrive at the hotel in Paris the rest is on me.
Milan & Piedmont
The simplicity of northern Italy.
There is something quite splendid about the beauty of northern Italy. It borders France in the west, Switzerland in the north, Lombardy on the east. The southern side is naturally defined by the Apennines mountains which divide the region from the Liguria region.
This trip will take us first to Milan which, when one takes a little time to discover, is a fascinating city. It is the Italian center of Haute Couture fashions, and I’m not just talking about clothes. The best furniture in the world comes from northern Italy. The shopping is mesmerizing. The food is unparalleled. And the wines, well in all honesty between Tuscany and Piedmont, Italy boasts some of the best in the world.
There is a simplicity to this region. The climate is inviting and great for a reset. Historically, Italy holds no punches. Italian is a beautiful language, and overall the sudden impact one feels when they say to themselves, “Oh my god, I’m in Italy” is a source of fulfillment and enjoyment.
Barolo and Barbaresco.
Barolo and Barbaresco for me are as significant as they are ancient. They have a Cru system similar to those of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The wines are meant for aging. The scenery and the welcome are magnificent. We will get to know the Cru system in Barolo, and decipher the differences between the masculine and feminine wines derived from their soil types.
First of all, there are perhaps four vineyards in the world that share the coveted Cru system. A Cru is a parcel of land deemed more precious than others due to factors such as aspect, geological composition (does it have calcium carbonate, for example?) as well as the weather, in terms of frost protection, rainfall etc. The different soil types will yield wines that differ to their neighbor and it can be only a matter of yards. There are masculine harder type wines which have a longer aging capacity and a softer more approachable type wine that hails off the more sandy type soils. There are huge mineral deposits such as magnesium, potassium and calcium! Vital for the best wines. Moreover, a more alkaline type soil which will yield good acids in the fruit.
The people in Barolo are also more open to having guests try their wines. These wines are exceptionally good with piemontese cooking. This trip will expose you to some of the finer things in life. Immerse yourself in the real Europe, learn about the pleasure of drinking a cafe latte and eating a custard filled donut. Sometimes the simple pleasures are the best. Thank you, and see you there!