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To France’s wine valleys and beyond

In June 2016, we will be embarking on a voyage to ‘The Best of France and Portugal’ – an exploration of the beautiful landscapes and sites of Northern France, the Loire Valley and Bordeaux, as well as Lisbon and Oporto in Portugal. To match an already amazing itinerary, we have prepared an outstanding lecture programme on board to make the culture and history of this region come to life.

One of our guest experts is wine educator John Ducker, who will be hosting a series of wine tastings and lectures covering the regions we visit. See a preview of the talks he has prepared below:

The Wines of the Loire – ‘The Garden of France’ – a tutored tasting including wines produced in the Pays Nantais.

Bordeaux – today’s quality conundrum of the ‘game of two halves’ – a tasting examination of some Crus Classés properties vs. the rest.

Any Port in a storm – a calmer roundup ‘by the glass’ of what makes those perhaps unfamiliar but greatly undervalued Portuguese wines tick.

And Brian Williams, one of our frequent guest speakers on board, will delve into the geology of the Loire valley for some answers to why this region is called The Garden of France:

Rivers, Rocks and Wine - a new look at the Loire & the Garonne winelands

On this voyage you can also expect several food and wine-themed quizzes on board, just to get you even more in the mood for distillery and vineyard visits on your port days.

To give you a taste (pun very much intended) of what you can expect on your voyage, we wanted to share with you some of the highlighted shore excursions, all of which are included.

One of the prestigious wine estates in Bordeaux

One of the prestigious wine estates in Bordeaux

Panoramic Bordeaux and Wine Tasting

Your day in Bordeaux begins with a panoramic tour of UNESCO’s largest urban world heritage site with sites including the 13th-century cathedral, the Palais Rohan and the Grand Theatre de Bordeaux. On the conclusion of your tour, you will leave the city behind and head for the vineyards.

The history of Bordeaux wine spans almost 2,000 years to Roman times when the first vineyards were planted. In the Middle Ages, the marriage of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine opened the Bordeaux region to the English market and eventually to the world’s stage. Today, Bordeaux wine remains the world’s most popular and sought-after wine.

You will stop at one of the prestigious wine estates such as Chateau La Louvière, Chateau Haut Bailly, Chateau Carbonnieux or Chateau Latour-Martillac to visit their cellars, be introduced to the art of wine making and, of course, enjoy a wine tasting.

Tasting wine

Enjoy wine tasting

La Rochelle Highlights & Cognac

This half-day tour includes a panoramic city tour and a look at La Rochelle’s mercantile and military past before you arrive at Chateau de La Peraudière. Owned by the Normandin Mercier family, the Chateau was established in 1872 by Jules Normandin, a Cognac brandy broker and landowner.

The site Jules chose for his Cognac business was perfect as it is not only close to La Rochelle, which was the major export harbour for Cognac, but also has the ideal climatic conditions for producing the spirit. You will visit the cellars and have a tasting of Cognac and Pineau des Charentes, a fortified wine made from lightly fermented grape must and Cognac.

Cognac tasting in La Rochelle, France

Cognac tasting in La Rochelle, France

Oporto City & Port Tasting

During your half-day shore excursion you will enjoy a city tour of Oporto – one of the most important cities in Portugal. Visit the Romanesque-style Cathedral and Stock Exchange Palace before port tasting in Gaia.

Following this wonderful city tour, you will cross the Douro River by way of the unique double-decker Dom Luis Bridge to Gaia to visit a well-known wine cellar for a tasting of the port wine.

Oporto’s port wine lodges opened their doors to visitors in the 1960’s and have since become the city’s most sought-after attraction. Located on the Gaia hillside, you will learn about the wine making and storage process, as well as the origin and characteristics of the wine.

Port tasting in Oporto

Oporto’s port wine lodges in Gaia

These are just some of the wines that are made in the regions that we visit:

Cabernet Sauvignon – This medium to full-bodied wine comes from the red grape variety and when produced in Bordeaux, ages to a browning orange colour.

Pinot Noir – A medium bodied drink with red fruits dominating, the Pinot Noir features red cherry, strawberry and is perfumed often with violet.

Chardonnay Unoaked – A white grape wine that varies in colour between pale green and mild yellow. It has a crispy, lemon and mineral finish.

Chenin Blanc – Another white grape variety flavoured with lots of lemon. It can have a sour finish, but is incredibly refreshing on a warm summers day.

Wine tasting

Sample the different wines from the areas we visit


We can’t wait to meet everybody, who will join us for a unique voyage in the best of summer – visit The Best of France & Portugal in June 2016.