When touring France, you must take a wine tour. We booked two for our time in Lyon! Knowing that on Sundays/Mondays minimal places are open for business, we specifically looked for things to do on these days, hence the tours.
Our first tour was ‘Beaujolais South Gourmet Wine Tour’ and we headed north out of the city. After about 45 minutes driving, we stopped at a church on top of a hill for our first tasting.
The tour started at 9 am so drinking wine at 10 am is not the norm, but it was explained that the morning is the best time for wine tasting as your palate has not been tainted by any strong flavors. Who knew?Our van driver was our tour guide and resident wine expert. We had 3 Beaujolais wines, one of which was white. I didn’t know that white beaujolais existed. There is something pretty special about drinking wine in the morning, on top of a hill in France with a really old church in the background. (BTW – it’s kind of hard taking a selfie with the sun in your face).
Since the church was a historic site, there was signage showcasing the Beaujolais wine regions and the 10 beaujolais appellations.
After the reds were tasted, Baptiste pulled out pain chocolate (chocolate croissants) for us to enjoy with the red wine. The red wine tasted totally different. Try it some time – you might like it. 🙂
I came to France not liking any red wine unless it was made into sangria. I’ll be leaving France with a few red wines added to my list. Afterwards it was off to a nearby medieval village.
We visited the village of Oingt and I found some interesting flower gardens sprouting up wherever the inhabitants found space. Each of the buildings were built with yellow stone and to this day, remains a rule for building or remodeling, You can see some of the stones in the background of my flower photos.
A short beaujolais lesson………….
Beaujolais wine is generally made from the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and low in tannins. The wine tends to be a very light-bodied wine with relatively high amounts of acidity. It was the Romans who first planted the vineyards and the Benedictine monks kept it going. There are over 44,000 acres of vines planted in a 34 mile stretch of land. The white Beaujolais I mentioned earlier is made from the Chardonnay grape and accounts for only 1% of the production. The Beaujolais wines are released each year on the third Thursday of November.
After the village we headed to a local winemaker where the vineyard had been in his family since 1775. Though Etienne spoke no English, it was obvious he had a passion for his vines and his wines.
He had available some grapes leftover from the harvest earlier in the month and allowed the group to eat our fill.
We finished the tour by going into his wine cellar and tasting four of his wines.
TOUR 2: Cote Rotie Wine
This wine region covers nearly 500 acres along the western bank of the Rhone River. Syrah and Viognier are the two main grape varieties grown. Wines are meant to be consumed 5-6 years and the vines are typically very old, with the average being 40 years. The earliest record for this region dates to the 2nd century BC when the Romans entered the territory. With the vines being grown on very steep, South facing slopes, many of the existing walls assist with containing the slopes and can be dated back to Roman times. Okay, enough facts.
Upon meeting our tour guide, we once again drove 45+minutes until reaching a place to taste wines.
You might recognize the tour guide, yes this is the same one as on the previous tour, Baptiste. All of the vines are planted on very steep slopes as seen below.
The wines we tasted were as expected and we heard much the same spiel as before, but tailored to these wines and growing region. This time we knew the answers to all of his questions being asked of our group. We pretty much assumed these wines would not be to my taste, and that was a correct assumption. I still enjoyed the tour and visiting the countryside and vineyards.
Next up was a visit to a Medieval village (Malleval) and we pretty much had the streets to ourselves. During our time, we walked up to the church and captured a few photos.
Our last stop was a winery.
We had a very informative and interesting talk before tasting some of their wines. Not sure if you can see the steepness of the hillside, but you can see some of the Roman retaining walls.
I tried all of the wines, but usually one sip (a very small sip) was all that was necessary.
Afterwards we headed back to the heart of Lyon and said goodbye. Another couple from Australia had been on both of our tours and it was interesting meeting them again.
We definitely enjoyed the tours and was a great way to ensure we had activities on days that are usually limited.