Wine tours to Loire are rare… and a study trip like we are offering this next fall is simply unique and won’t be repeated any time soon!
Wine Study Tour Highlights
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to travel through all the key appellations of this authentic wine region of France with a true expert and fabulous instructor!
By nature and nurture the Loire is an aristocratic place. Even the wines manifest this inherent equilibrium of structure and precision and grace. Over 300 castles and/or châteaux, plus gardens, vineyards and broad expanses of cropland, flank the Loire River. It is because of this exquisitely pastoral yet cultured landscape that the region is known as “Le Jardin de la France”, France’s Garden. It is the home of some of the most delicious, delectable, enjoyable French wines.
- Enjoy guidance and instruction from Loire Valley native and Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier
- Travel to most of the region’s wine appellations including: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray, Chinon, Saumur-Champigny, Savennières
- Taste rare and distinctive wines including racy whites, refreshing rosés, reds that favor fruit over force, and sumptuous sweet and sparkling wines made from the versatile grape Chenin Blanc
- Visit Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, the most famous ambassadors for crafting Sauvignon Blanc in the world.
- Get access to some of the most prestigious and sought-after small wine producers
- Enjoy the gorgeous scenery of the Loire river, castles and world famous cathedrals
- Indulge in the renowned, authentic cuisine of the Loire…cave-cultivated button mushrooms, goat cheeses, black truffles, saffron, artichokes and all manner of tree and berry fruits.
Become one of the few to understand and master the wines of this authentic part of France!
Travel with like-minded, committed students of wine, whether serious wine hobbyists or wine professionals, and share with us an unforgettable educational, epicurean and enlightening experience!
Your instructor & Guide: Pascaline Lepeltier, Master Sommelier
- Loire Valley native
- Master Sommelier and Beverage Director of Rouge Tomate restaurant in New York City
- Highly qualified and experienced speaker and presenter
Your Tour Manager: Mary Kirk-Bonnet
Assisting the instructor and making sure logistics run smoothly and that your needs are answered will be Mary Kirk-Bonnet, Sommelière-Conseil. Mary has been leading wine tours in the Loire Valley for over 10 years, and teaches wine in the Paris area.
Sunday, October 22
- Participants arrive independently in Tours and check into the lovely 4-star Château Belmont.
- Evening on your own to discover Tours and its great restaurants with our suggestions (including the hotel’s fine restaurant).
- NOTE: you may want to arrive early in Tours and visit some of the great royal Châteaux of the Loire like Chenonceau, Chaumont or Chambord.
Monday, October 23 | Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou Salon | B, L, D
- Meet your instructor, Master Sommelier and Loire native Pascaline Lepeltier, and begin your explorations in the Centre subregion.
- Visit the emblematic appellation of this area, Sancerre, at a top producer like Domaine Vacheron, Domaine Pinard, Lucien Crochet or Vincent Cota.
- After a gourmet lunch, visit two of the top producers of Pouilly-Fumé and Menetou Salon, like Philippe Gilbert or Domaine Pabiot.
- Your welcome dinner is at the hotel’s highly-rated restaurant, La Table du Château Belmont.
Tuesday, October 24 | Touraine, Vouvray, Montlouis | B, L
- The Touraine is home to many of the most famous historic Châteaux in France, and you’ll see several along the Loire River during your travels today.
- In the Touraine appellation, visit great producers like Thierry Puzelat or Domaine de la Grange Tiphaine.
- Enjoy a gourmet lunch at one of the area’s best restaurants.
- Move on to AOP Vouvray where you’ll have a visit and extensive tasting at a top estate like Clos Naudin, Domaine Vincent Careme or Domaine Huet.
- Discover the fine sweet wines of Montlouis with a visit to Domaine de la Taille aux Loups or Domaine François Chidaine.
- Return to Tours for an evening on your own with our restaurant suggestions.
Wednesday, October 25 | Chinon, Bourgueil, Saumur-Champigny | B, L
- Today’s visits concentrate on Cabernet Franc-based wines, beginning in Chinon with great winemakers like Bernard Baudry, Olga Raffault or Charles Joguet.
- You’ll taste a variety of full-bodied, long-ageing Bourgueil wines at a top producer like Domaine Breton, Domaine de la Chevalerie or Yannick Amirault.
- Your lunch is at Fontevraud-Restaurant, in the heart of the renowned Royal Abbey of Fontevraud.
- Visit a highly-rated estate in Saumur-Champigny, like Domaine Guiberteau, La Porte Saint-Jean/Sylvain Dittière, Domaine Filliatreau or Château de Fosse-Sèche.
- Check in to 4-star Hotel Mercure Angers Centre. The evening is yours to explore Angers and dine on your own with our suggestions for fine restaurants.
Thursday, October 26 | Anjou, Côteaux de Layon, Bonnezeaux, Savennières | B, L, D
- Explore the fine red, white and rosé wines of AOP Anjou and Anjou Villages, as well as the vins moelleux et liquoreux like AOP Côteaux de Layon,at two highly-rated producers like Domaine Patrick Baudouin, Domaine de Juchepie, Domaine Mosse and Domaine Delesvaux.
- Enjoy a gourmet lunch at Le Petit Manoir in St. Melaine sur Aubance.
- This afternoon, discover the minerality and ageability of great Savennière wines at one of its best producers, like La Coulée de Serrant or Domaine du Closel.
- Your farewell dinner is at the lovely Michelin 1-star restaurant Une Ile in Angers, paired with great Loire wines.
Friday, October 27 | Muscadet | B, L
- Visit two fine producers in the maritime vineyards of Muscadet, like Domaine de l’Écu, Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin or Domaine de la Louvetrie.
- Lunch at La Bonne Auberge, where your gourmet meal will match perfectly with the best Muscadet wines.
- Late afternoon group transfer to the Gare SNCF Nord train station in Nantes. You may wish to extend your stay to visit Nantes, a beautiful city with many cultural sites of interest.
Legend for meals included in your tour: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
* Itinerary subject to change: every effort will be made to keep the itinerary as close as possible to what appears here; however, the final itinerary and estates/winemakers included may vary due to wine producer schedules, availability and factors beyond our control. The wine estates visited during this trip will all be of the highest quality.
- Domaine VACHERON – Sancerre
This historic Sancerre estate was one of the pioneers of biodynamic farming and the movement to create single vineyard designations based on soil type in the Loire Valley. Producers of excellent red and white wines, Jean-Dominique and Jean-Laurent Vacheron continue to push boundaries in pursuit of the highest quality.
- Domaine Vincent PINARD – Sancerre
Having achieved a cult status and following in France, this winery is still relatively unknown in the U.S. The estate, run by Clement and Florent Pinard is located in the South of the appellation. It crafts spectacular wines, particularly very complex Pinots Noirs.
- Domaine Gerard BOULAY – Chavignol
Carefully and organically farming some of the most emblematic vineyards of Sancerre – Les Culs de Beaujeu, Les Monts Damnes and La Grande Cote in Chavignol – Gerard Boulay is without a doubt one of the top vignerons of the appellation. Thanks to a very sensitive and “light-touch” vinification style, he enhances and reveals the nuances of Sauvignon Blanc on Kimmeredgian marls like no one else.
- Domaine Francois CHIDAINE – Montlouis-sur-Loire / Vouvray
A key figure in the rise of Montlouis as a benchmark for Chenin, Francois Chidaine is crafting Chenin from both sides of the Loire, farming biodynamically more than 37 hectares of vineyards. Exploring styles that range from bone dry to late-harvest and bubbles, the precision between the different terroirs and the nuances of Chenin is impressive there.
- Domaine La GRANGE TIPHAINE – Montlouis-sur-Loire / Amboise
Considered the rising star of the new generation of winemakers in this area, Damien Delecheneau is organically farming Chenin, Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Cot (Malbec), and Gamay across different appellations. This estate serves as a fantastic example of the Loire’s capacity for producing diverse and age worthy wines-from Rosé to Pét-Nat (pétillant naturel) to dry & late harvest Chenin and fantastic Cot.
- Domaine Vincent CAREME – Vouvray
Another star from the new generation, Vincent’s estate is located in the eastern part of Vouvray, where he focuses solely on Chenin from old vines on his family’s prestigious vineyard, Le Clos.
- Domaine Bernard BAUDRY – Chinon
Located in Cravant-les-Coteaux, in the heart of the Chinon appellation, Father and son team, Bernard and Matthieu, are recognized as masters of Cabernet Franc and Chenin. In their cellar dug into the tuffeau cliff, they express the beauty of their limestone terroir which allows them to craft age-worthy, delicate and aromatic Cabernet Franc wines.
- Domaine Catherine & Pierre BRETON – Bourgueil / Chinon
Catherine (from Vouvray) and Pierre (from Bourgueil) are icons not only of Cabernet Franc, but also of the biodynamic and natural wine movements. They have also spearheaded the push for a heavier focus on the importance of soils. Tasting with Catherine and Pierre provides an opportunity to better understand how the different types of soil (limestone and sandy soils) and different vineyard sites (Bourgueil and Chinon) affect Cabernet.
- Domaine HUET – Vouvray
One of the most historic estates in the Loire Valley and France, Domaine Huet has been an extraordinary reference for Chenin since the early 1900’s. The domaine has three vineyards situated on Vouvray’s ‘Première Côte’ (Le Haut Lieu, Le Mont and Le Clos du Bourg) which they farm biodynamically. Huet is recognized as producing some of the greatest white wines in the world.
- Domaine du CLOSEL – Savennières
In the heart of Savennières, on the right bank of the Loire, Evelyne de Jessey is one of the most vocal advocates for Chenin, especially dry Chenin grown on schist soils. She also, interestingly, nurtures old vines of Verdelho, a grape planted as a trial as the end of the 19th century after phylloxera hit
- Domaine aux Moines / Tessa Laroche – Savennieres-Roche Aux Moines
After studying winemaking in Champagne, Tessa came back to the family estate, a beautiful property holding only Savennieres-Roche Aux Moines vineyards, and converted the vineyards over to organic. Her improvements were extraordinary, and today she makes some of the most pure, elegant and complex expressions of chenin on schist, while leading the way for others on this side of the Loire.
- Domaine des Roches Neuves / Thierry GERMAIN – Saumur-Champigny / Saumur
Hailing from Bordeaux, Thierry, inspired by the work of the Foucault brothers, arrived in Saumur at the age of 23 and took the appellation by storm. Today, after more than 20 years in the region, he biodynamically farms over 28 hectares and crafts superbly nuanced Cabernet Franc and Chenin.
- Domaine des GRANDES VIGNES – Bonnezeaux / Anjou
As we enter the Anjou Noir, where limestone gives place to schist, J.F Vaillant is returning nobility to the botrytis affected appellation of Bonnezeaux. Discover the beauty of noble rot and the Chenin that has been grown on schist, thanks to this biodynamic estate.
- Domaine de l’ECU – Muscadet Sèvre & Maine
Historically run by the famed Guy Bossard who was the first to farm organically and biodynamically in the region. Guy also initiated soil type research- granite / gneiss / orthogneiss – proving that Melon de Bourgogne can be extraordinarily transparent to terroir. Today the Estate continues its explorative and progressive work, under the guidance of Fred Niger van Herck
- Domaine de la Pepière / Marc OLLIVIER – Muscadet Sèvre & Maine
Marc Ollivie has been quietly crafting benchmark age-worthy Muscadet for more than 30 years. Joined today by Remy Granger and Gwenaelle Croix, the estate is exploring the potential of the new classification of “Crus Communaux” with their Clisson (granite), Château-Thébaud (granite), Monnières-Saint-Fiacre (gneiss) and Gorges (gabbro) vineyards.
- Domaine de la Louvetrie / Jo LANDRON
With his dashing mustache and winning smile, Jo has been a fantastic ambassador for Muscadet all over the world. Organically farming more than 40 hectares, his famous “Fief du Breil” is the undeniable proof that 20+ year old Muscadet can rival Chablis and other prestigious Chardonnays.
A few additional estates are currently being confirmed.
- Instruction throughout by Master Sommelier and Loire native Pascaline Lepeltier
- Deluxe, air-conditioned motor coach transportation throughout, with bottled water on-board
- 3 nights at 4-star Hotel Château Belmont in Tours, double occupancy
- 2 nights at 4-star Hotel Mercure Angers Centre, double occupancy
- 2 gastronomic dinners with fine wines, including one at a Michelin 1-star restaurant
- 5 gourmet lunches with fine wines
- 5 delicious breakfasts
- All professional-level tours and extensive tastings at top-quality wine producers
- All hotel and other taxes, and gratuities for included restaurants
Price per person, double occupancy: US$ 3,995.00
Single Supplement: US$ 395.00
Deposit upon reservation: US$ 1000.00 per person, per trip
Get US$ 150 off each additional trip you take!**
NOTE: There are a limited number of twin rooms available. Please let us know if you’d like to share a twin room with another participant to avoid the single supplement and pay the double occupancy price instead.
**After you have reserved your first Study Trip in 2017, you will receive a Discount of US$150 for each additional Study Trip you take in the same calendar year. This Discount will be deducted from the final balance payment for each additional Study Trip. You must pay in full for the first Study Trip you reserve to be eligible to receive the Discount for additional Study Trips.
Space is limited to 18 participants, so reserve your space today!
For more information:
Enjoy memorable meals at Gastronomic restaurants and Royal Abbey
Learn about Loire wines!
Loire Wine Quiz: Test Yourself!
The following quiz is part of the WSG's French Wine Scholar study & certification program. Enjoy!