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Nestled in Northern Burgundy’s Valley of the River Serein (the French word for “serene”) is the town of Chablis, a favorite excursion on French canal cruises. It is part of France’s Yonne Department and is known for its monastic history and viticulture. Legend has it that the monks of the Abbey of Pontigny, a Cistercian monastery on one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela, were the first inhabitants to make a conscientious effort to grow grapes for wine making. The abbey is the largest standing abbey of its kind in Europe and celebrated its 900th birthday in 2014.
The origin of Chablis wine
The Chardonnay grapes planted on the abbey’s pastoral grounds are well suited to the micro-climate and soil of the Chablis wine region. They thrived and soon the monk’s highly acidic, flinty wines were quite popular with the local populations. Consequently, centuries later, Chablis wines produced in the area now hold four appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) designations.
The Chablis, Grand Cru, Petit Chablis and Premier Cru appellations
Interestingly enough, each appellation has its own levels of classification as well. They are traditionally based on two key factors. The first factor has to do with the soil composition and the second focuses on the slope where the grapevines are located. Passions run high as to which one is best and whether one should consume a bottle of Chablis from a vineyard that’s rife with Kimmeridgean soil and located close to the mouth of the Yonne River or one that’s tucked away in the outlying areas, where Portlandian soil is prominent. Personally, we think that most travelers aboard French canal cruises will find something nice to say about them all.
To learn more about Northern Burgundy canal cruises, please contact us today.
A votre sante,
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
There are many reasons to go to France: stunning landscapes, splendid architecture, a rich history and culture, and unparalleled cuisine. Then, there is the wine. If you’re headed to France as an oenophile, eager to try a variety of wines, consider French canal cruises as a means not only of showing you different sides of the country but also of immersing you in the wine culture of any given region.
Wine Regions of France
Burgundy. Probably the most well known wines of this area are the legendary red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) and the white Burgundy (Chardonnay) wines found in the Cote d’Or region near Beaune. Other wines not to be missed are from Beaujolais and Chablis. Beaujolais is made from the Gamay Noir grape and is featured in a traditional dessert of the region where sliced wild peaches and black currants are doused in the wine. Chablis, made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, goes well with poultry and seafood dishes. Barge cruises in Southern Burgundy
Bordeaux. The most westerly wine region in France is known mainly for its red wines from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. From strong tannin content to more mellow fruit flavor, these wines are great accompaniments with any kind of meal. And don’t forget to try some of the world’s best sweet dessert wines, the Sauternes, that are also produced here. Uniworld river cruises in Bordeaux.
Champagne. The only sparkling wine that can officially be called Champagne is mostly from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes with a little Pinot Meunier to round out the flavors. As you float past the rich vineyards, the gently rolling hills dotted with old stone churches, raise a glass of real Champagne to celebrate your ongoing discovery of France. Barge cruises in Champagne.
Alsace. As you enjoy the potent mix of French and German cultures in this region, be sure to drink some Riesling, a dry white wine that goes well with a wide variety of foods. The 7 varieties of Alsatian grapes are white, comprised of the Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling varietals, all dry wines versus their German counterparts. They go well with seafood dishes, salads and are great for sipping on the deck of your canal barge. Barge cruises in Alsace.
Upper Loire. In this playground of monarchs, studded with magnificent chateaux, you’ll find the world class wines of Sancerre, Vouvray, Pouilly-Fume, made from the Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet and Chenin Blanc grapes. Many of these wines go well with goat cheese, and you’ll enhance your understanding of what wines pair well with different foods, whether it’s grilled fish or veal with morels. Barge cruises in the Upper Loire.
Provence and Rhone Valley. Nestled in the southeastern area of France, the valley along the Rhone River grows primarily the Grenache, Syrah and Viognier grapes. The wines have a vast range of taste, and are usually much less expensive to purchase. This variety provides plenty of food pairing options to your meals. One of the most renowned appellations, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is found in the southern part of the Rhône Valley near Avignon and is visited on your Provence barge cruise. Barge cruises in Provence.
Along with parts of Provence, Languedoc is the oldest wine region in France dating back to the 5th century B.C. It is also the largest wine region in the world and produces more than a third of France’s wine. Numerous grape varieties are grown in Languedoc where interesting blends and boutique wineries continue to improve the quality of what was once a region known for table wine. Vin du Pays d’Oc, Blanquette de Limoux and the sweet aperitif wine, Muscat, are just some of wines to be discovered. The Canal du Midi meanders through the beautiful vineyards of Languedoc immersing passengers in local wine culture. Barge cruises on the Canal du Midi.
Described here is just a taste of what you’ll experience when you travel through France by barge. You will be traveling at a leisurely pace through the countryside itself, stopping at small villages and vineyards to enjoy firsthand the best products of each region you visit.
Ready to learn more about the wines of France? Contact us for more details about planning your ideal barge trip through France, including the kinds of wine you’d enjoy in every location.
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
Do you love tasting a new wine? Do you subscribe to Food and Wine or Wine Enthusiast and savor the pairings and posturings about the greatest new find or old world vintage rediscovered? If so, then you are the perfect passenger for one of our Burgundy Wine Connoisseurs Cruise on the barge Apres Tout.
Learn about French wines on barge cruise excursions
Imagine being able to get authoritative answers to all the wine questions that cross your mind as you peruse the pages of those magazines, or try to detect the differences between two vintages. Savor the opportunity to experience French gourmet food and local wine pairings. Enjoy touring Grand Cru vineyards and tasting their wines—and even enjoy lunch with a maker of Grand Cru wines! All of this is included in this fabulous wine-themed cruise. From the Kir Royale of Dijon to the “wine and war” tour in the Burgundian capital of Beaune, your cruise week will be filled with a number of unforgettable tastes, smells and sounds of France.
Fine wines and gourmet dining on board the barge Apres Tout
And then there’s the excitement of cruising the Burgundy Canal! Aboard the deluxe barge Apres Tout, you will observe the beautiful countryside and scenic villages along the Burgundy Canal from the elegant teak sundeck of your barge. With central air conditioning and heat, generous suites with ensuite bathrooms, a library and a hot tub on board, this luxurious home away from home has all the amenities you could desire, from heated towel racks to bicycles for getting closer to the idyllic countryside. The demonstration kitchen gives you the chance to ask even more questions about both wine pairings and cooking with wine.
So whether you have memorized the list of Burgundy Grand Crus or need some help understanding the difference between a Grand Cru and Premier Cru, this cruise is the ultimate chance to answer all your questions, tantalize your taste buds with unforgettable vintages and even ship your favorite wines home so you can host a tasting of your own for your friends or local wine club.
To book this unique Burgundy Wine Connoisseurs Cruise, contact us today.
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988