Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gourmet getaways

Which wineries to visit
On our private wine tours we first of all offer our clients a general overview of what the region has to offer. That means they will get to know and taste all official grapes that are allowed in the area.
And then of course we compare many wines: grand cru's of Alsace, premier and grand cru's from Burgundy and docg's from Tuscany.

We always end a tour in the afternoon at one of the top wineries in the area. The customer having tasted and learned a lot during the tour day(s), often knows which wines would be most worthwhile to finish with.
I, as a wine guide spending the time with my clients getting to know them, can often predict which wines would be most interesting for them to try and buy at the end.
These are some great advantages of a private tour with a knowledgeable wine guide (...)

Maybe I should stress the fact that I do not do the same tour every day. I select the wineries to visit in a more or less logical order for driving but I also will build up a variety. If communicated before, my selection of wineries for the visits is also based on the clients preferences and suggestions.

Lunch and dinner
For lunch I always select at least a good restaurant. I want to present my customers the great (local) food that the region has to offer.  And quality goes over quantity! Too much food for lunch can ruin the following afternoon tastings. And people need to save some space for dinner in the evening too of course.

Michelin stars
A lot of my clients ask me for the possibility to include lunch and/or dinner in a Michelin starred restaurant. After all they are on vacation and doing an exclusive wine tasting, so often they are in the mood to give their taste buds a food treat too.
In some cases they just want to experience the having been in a famous Michelin starred restaurant. In other cases they have read about a special menu, the chef, a dish etc..
Last but not least: in such a restaurant a wine and food pairing will be perfect!

I often discuss possibilities with the restaurants sommelier beforehand and also sur place we can discuss wine pairing details with the very knowledgable sommeliers.

Here is another advantage of a private tour. In a mixed group I cannot force people to spend more money then they might have expected for let us say "just a pizza" or a "tarte flambee".
Normally we spend 25-30 Euro p.p. without drinks.

In a private group we can discuss things beforehand and reserve an exclusive table..
By the way: many Michelin starred restaurants offer lunch menu's for about 45-55 Euro p.p. during the week. Sure, a little more expensive, but a pleasant surprise for lots of people.

Michelin in Alsace, Burgundy and Tuscany
The Michelin restaurant guides are well known all over the world. In countries like France and Italy they are very important.
I sometimes go to dine there in private, but thanks to you: "the JoliSoleil wine tour customers" I have visited a lot of them in my area's quite a few times now.
Over the years I got to know a lot of chefs and sommeliers personally, which absolutely adds to my job satisfaction.

Gourmet Getaways
As a logical answer to the demands of a group of customers JoliSoleil now also offers: "Gourmet Getaways".
This is something special  for a special occasions like a romantic weekend, a wedding, a special business achivement, etc.
They are always private events

In a 3 -, 4- or 5- day Gourmet Getaway  you will enjoy:

- lunches at Michelin "Bib Gourmand" or "Star restaurants"
- an introduction and wine tasting and at your hotel
- visits and tastings of the top wineries of the area (4 per tasting day, so for example 8 visits on a 3- day Getaway
- at least one 5-course dinner with matching wines in a top Michelin * restaurant.
- you will meet many wine makers and chefs personally

We can assist you in booking a room in a 5-star hotel either in a city like:
  • Colmar or Strasbourg in Alsace
  • Beaune or Dijon in Burgundy
  • Siena or Florence in Tuscany
In all areas are also beautiful resorts in the country site.

To give you an idea: prices for a 3 day Getaway start at Euro 1.250,= p.p., but better mail us to get a personal proposal for your private tailor made Gourmet Getaway.

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 - another year has begun.

All the special wine glasses are washed and put away for the next special occasion. The year 2018 has really begun. That does not mean that there are no more wine glasses at hand of course.
They are our more our standard day to day glasses that can be used for lots of different wines and last but not least are not to vulnerable.

Being in the wine touring business for some years now means lots of contacts with winemakers. We follow their activities and we talk with them about the weather often.
It is interesting to be "around" so to speak, when there are hail storms in spring in Burgundy or Alsace or like in the beginning of 2017 to witness the frost periods after some mild weeks in March which already woke up nature.
Fascinating and scary to see how winemakers in for example the freezing Volnay area in Burgundy made hay fires at night trying to save the buds. In other parts they use fuel stoves.
Still damages in Chablis for example and here and there even in Alsace.

Another thing I remember very vividly were the hot summers of 2003, 2009 and for example the summer of 2015. I remember touring at 40+ C and more in 2015 with the airco at full blast in my car. I remember nature gasping for water. The grape vines still looked healthy but their maturing grapes were  sometimes still a bit small.  I remember talking to wine makers being happy and a bit worried at the same time. As they are not allowed to irrigate, the root system of their vines had adapted to all of that dryness. They went deep even in granite soil. But has to rain at some time....

Most wine makers left the leaves growing on the branches, sticking out, so they would protect the grapes  from too much sun, like a parasol. In other years they might have pruned them to get sun on the grapes. These are decisions you can only make once per season. You cannot glue the protecting leaves back on.
Some biodynamic wine makers even sprayed camomile tea over the plants to relax them. Yes, it works for humans and it also works for plants.

Finally, at the end of August it did rain....Not too much...; and then after a couple of days some more. Ideal !!! Just what the grapes needed to survive, grow a bit more and further mature. Big smiles on all the wine makers faces. In Alsace this became a great year for Pinot Noir but also for other grape variaties. The results in Burgundy and Tuscany were also great.

What will 2018 bring? We already had some snow at the end of 2017. And then lots of rain and floodings in the first week of the new year. Temperatures are still mild.
We will follow the weather forecasts on TV every day again. We will also be looking outside on our 2018 tours and "feel the weather" and of course discuss the weather lots of times, sipping a glass.
Fun !!!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Returning customers and new friendships, what more do you want?

For many of our foreign customers visiting France and then for example Alsace or Burgundy, is a trip they do not make every year. And if people from far away like: Asia, Australia, Canada or the United States visit Europe more often, they mostly want to see other areas. So although we do over 120 tours per year, we almost always see new faces.
By the way, customers living in the USA can now re-order the wines they have tasted, bought and shipped the first time via our JS-USA-Wine Club. Not paying the french sales tax of 20% subsidizes the shipping costs.

Still people DO come back to us. To visit another region in France or to go to Tuscany for example. Luckily we also see people again that want to tour with us in the same area. Probably because of the area itself, the landscape and often the food and last but not least the wines. And ... we are proud to say that sometimes even "we" are the reason. We have made some great friends over the years!

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