Star of the family: Muscat Blanc grape variety

Wine critics are notoriously averse to consensus. Yet almost everyone agrees that Muscat Blanc – or Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains – is the finest grape among this proud family of white varieties. Its small berries are responsible for the exotically-scented dessert wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon; fortified Vin Doux Naturel is the anthesis of Sauternes, and all […]

Steady as she goes for Muscadelle

Underrated and underestimated, Muscadelle has long been damned with faint praise as the ‘third’ variety of white Bordeaux. With the notable exception of Monbazillac, Muscadelle rarely holds court in the appellations of southwest France. It is neither highly regarded nor grossly maligned. For the vast majority of consumers, Muscadelle remains shrouded in anonymity. However, those […]

The magic behind Muscadet: Melon de Bourgogne

If Californian Chardonnay represents one end of the white variety spectrum – structured, opulent, and very ripe – Melon de Bourgogne is the polar opposite. Saline, fragrant, and inevitably drunk young, Melon de Bourgogne is part of a noble family of light-bodied, aromatic varieties. Its closest relatives are Riesling, Sylvaner, and Aligoté, styles that offer racy acidity, […]

Magnificent Mauzac

It is generally agreed that the best sparkling wines come from cool climates. All over the world, producers seek out the chilliest spots that offer a facsimile of the climate – and soil – in Champagne. Without wanting to insult anyone’s individuality, it could be said that a critical mass of fizz is made in […]

Jewel of the Rhône: Marsanne grape variety

The principal white grape of the northern Rhône continues to divide opinion. One school of thought argues that Marsanne is incomplete without its traditional blending partner Roussanne; Marsanne is said to bring structure and weight to the party, while Roussanne is responsible for the bouquet. However, for many growers in the region, it is a […]

Jacquère’s full of surprises

At first glance, Jacquère does not deserve a lengthy introduction. Indigenous to the beautiful Savoie region of central-eastern France, Jacquère has long played the role of ‘tourist entertainer,’ quaffed by millions of skiers since time immemorial. As a result, it received about as much attention – and respect – from critics as Liebfraumilch or Black Tower. […]

Jurançon’s hidden treasure: Gros Manseng

Hipster sommeliers don’t go to heaven; they go to Jurançon. Flanked by the spectacular backdrop of the Pyrenees, this bucolic paradise has long been associated with esoteric styles and obscure grape varieties. Imagine a region where corporate ownership and accountant-led winemaking are virtually non-existent. Imagine a region where growers fiercely defend their most cherished traditions. […]

A Mediterranean odyssey: Grenache Blanc

France, for all its wonderful qualities, does have some problems. For example, aficionados sometimes complain that Gallic wine labels are difficult to decipher – why not just mention the grape variety on the label, for pity’s sake? Moreover, its regions are hedged by a rigid bureaucracy that seldom recognizes the need for flexibility or a […]

Rediscovering Colombard

To say that Colombard is not highly regarded in French wine circles is the understatement of the year. If you dare to mention its name, winegrowers in regions like Chablis and Pessac-Leognan let out a terse snort before deriding the grape as “utterly forgettable.” They may have a point: Colombard is noticeably absent from many […]

The Clairette Blanche comeback special

From one perspective, Clairette Blanche is lucky to be alive. Difficult to grow and produce, there is no sound commercial justification for keeping this obscure white grape around. Moreover, due to the vagaries of Gallic appellation law, it is not widely recognized and is seldom mentioned on French wine labels. And yet, growers in the […]

Fighting for glory: Chenin Blanc grape variety

We owe Chenin Blanc an apology. For decades, this versatile white grape of the Loire Valley has scarcely been given the international recognition – and respect – it deserves. Lost in the hype over Burgundy’s (admittedly magnificent) Chardonnay wines, Chenin Blanc was relegated to the status of an also-ran. Indeed, collectors would often struggle to […]

A Swiss prodigy: Chasselas

Even the most casual and disinterested wine drinker can recall a handful of French white grapes: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and perhaps Viognier. But Chasselas? We doubt it. Rarely mentioned on wine labels, Chasselas is one of the great underdogs of French wine – obscure and underrated. Yet, if handled with care, Chasselas can produce delectable […]

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Cellar Tours Private Luxury Food & Wine Tours

Cellar Tours

Cellar Tours is a Luxury Travel Specialist, operating since 2003 and offering exclusive Mercedes chauffeured Gourmet Vacations in Chile, France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, South Africa, and Spain. We specialize in luxurious custom designed vacations, events and incentives related to food and wine. We are proud members of Slow Food, UNAV (Travel Agency Association in Spain), and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals).

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