Tag Archives: City Wonders

Wine Tasting at O’Chateau

As the second part of a VIP Louvre Museum Night Tour and Wine Tasting offered by City Wonders, Paris has become even more interesting when a small group walked from an educational and highly interesting 2.5-hour tour within the Louvre to take a seat at the long wooden table within the historic stoned basement of O’Chateau. The history of O’Chateau is one filled with stories of its guests — dukes, ambassadors, princesses, countesses and all variety of important thinkers and writers of the time. Tonight, however, we are all VIP’s enjoying three wines and a plate of cheeses and hams while we learn about a few wines of France.

The first wine, an elegant Saumur 2012 cuvee vent du nord, was explained by the wine instructor, and the group listened intently about the regions within France from where each wine hailed. This chenin blanc grape was fruity and fresh, medium bodied and average. But, with the cheeses and jambon to which it was paired, worked perfectly.

O'Chateau wine tasting
O’Chateau wine tasting with City Wonders tour.

Next, a lesson in Beaujolais, France. This Corcelette Morgon 2013 is a wine made with a grape of the southern wine growing region in Burgundy and is referred to as its own appellation and not in the same category of Burgundian wines. It is light and dry, and we we are instructed to swirl and gaze at the ruby color of this gamay grape. We are enthralled in the process of tasting wine and devouring the cheeses and hams before us.

Finally, the malbec is poured. This is a 2012 Combel La Serre Cuvee Originelle Cahors from SW France. The instructor indicates its spiciness and bit of tobacco kick in the teeth. This is a wine that sells for around $10, and pairs best with beef and spicy food, mature and hard cheeses, as well as poultry. If you can find a 2010, this would be the better vintage.

So, the tasting was short and sweet, er… dry, actually if you refer to the wines, and after the closing of the tour, many in the group head upstairs to order a bottle of wine and food from the menu. At 10 p.m., the night has only just begun in Paris.

Visit http://www.citywonders.com/en/france/paris/paris-tours/louvre-tour-night-paris-wine-tasting to reserve your spot for a Skip the Line tour through City Wonders.

Sips and castles of Loire Valley, France

In a land southwest of Paris, you can discover over 1,000 castles — in Loire Valley, France. On a City Wonders Tour, you’ll also discover the history of France that leads to the Loire Valley and the river that proved difficult for enemies to navigate, hence the place where the King of France lived during wars. The Loire Valley is also known for producing some of the best cabernet franc grapes, as well as 80 types of goat cheese.

Two hours of a history-lectured bus tour led us to the first tour stop: Chambord, which was the inspiration for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The palace was built by King Francis I, styled in comparison to what he loved in Milan, Italy. It was built as a mere hunting lodge in the forest of Chambord. Today, the forest is a national reserve – the same as it was in the 16th century, except there’s a wall that closes the forest. Within the castle walls of this former hunting lodge, where today you can rent out the space for $150,000 a day, there are more than 300 rooms, 200 fireplaces and 80 staircases.

The City Wonders Tour includes lunch and a wine tasting at Chateau de Nitray. We are served the food of peasants: roasted chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, cheeses, salad and apple dessert, all accompanied with a wine tasting and tour of the castle grounds and rudimentary, barrel-less wine cellar. Chateau de Nitray’s vineyards have been around for 28 years, where six varietals of grapes include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and chenin blanc as popular whites, and cabernet franc as the known red. The sauvignon blanc is sweeter than anything I’ve ever tasted, with citrus, melon, peach notes that lead to a tart finish. It does have great structure. The rose is made with cabernet franc; they utilize the red skins for about 10 hours to get that beautiful rose color.

Chateau de Chenonceau proves to be the most elegant of our stops. Home to the six ladies: Catherine D. Medici (Henri II’s mistress, then wife after she ‘removed’ Diana), Diana Poitiers (the castle was dedicated to Diana by husband King Henri II), Louise of Lorraine (Henri III’s wife), Louise Dupin (artist who saved the chateau during the Revolution), Marguerite Pelouze (transformed the castle to a luxury estate) and Simone Menier (of chocolate fortune and who nursed the wounded during World War II). The interior will leave you in awe, but my goal was to check out the cellar — the wine cellar, where a tasting bar lures a crowd for sips of three wines. This is also where you can buy some bottles to take home. My advice, however, is to avoid the three-pack. Choose your personal favorites, such as the cabernet franc.

Visit http://www.citywonders.com/en/france/paris/paris-tours to view the list of tours offered from Paris.