My Next Book…

November 13, 2011

Jean Valeix, an English widow, is the owner of a fabulous vineyard in the wine village of Saint-Emilion. But her cherished château is struggling to sell its produce. A handful of people, among them a charming middle-aged Scotsman, a jaw-droppingly beautiful girl and a talented autistic boy, will change her life completely. But not all of her visitors are who they claim to be. All she needs to do is find out who’s telling the truth – oh, and save her business from bankruptcy and solve a murder, too. Only then might she discover that sometimes even good things come in threes.

Viticulture and poetry, mental health and mortality all tumble, along with the cabernets and merlots, into the fermenting vat of the author’s first fictional creation: Broke the Grape’s Joy.

On sale on Amazon from the 30th of November 2011…


Virginia Wine Tourists in Brissac

September 19, 2010

Virginia USA wine tourists (L to R) Ted, Linda. Mike, Carolyn, Stevia and Bill in front of the ancient oak wine press at Château La Varière, in the town of Brissac, Anjou. With thanks to Jacques Beaujeau and his charming wife for an unforgettable visit and tasting of their wonderful Quarts de Chaumes, Bonnezeaux and Anjou Villages Brissac wines.

Natural Pool in the Minervois vines

August 14, 2010

My good friends Denis (right) and Sophie Morin have 127 hectares of garrigue and vineyards in the beautiful Minervois countryside.  Their prize-winning Minervois reds and rosés alone are worth a visit to the Morin’s winery La Villatade and you can stay for a night or two (or longer) in their beautiful rooms and cottages within the Chateau’s age-worn walls.  This harvest time you’ll be able to pick a few grapes and cool down afterwards in their latest attraction: a natural bathing pool (below) created within an ancient stone cistern, right in the middle of the vineyard.

For information about staying at Chateau La Villatade click here…

Loire Vineyard Tours

August 13, 2010

My adopted home of Normandy is a beautiful region – lush pastures feed France’s finest cattle and fastest race horses; hundreds of miles of coastline provide us with some of the best fish and seafood in the world; the green ‘bocage’ countryside is a bucolic dream.  But…but…we have (almost) no vines.  Apart from one excellent award-winning winery- Les Arpents du Soleil – Normandy is devoid of vineyards.

Wine-loving visitors to Normandy can now experience a one-day tour of our nearest vineyards – a couple of hours south in the Loire Valley.  Loire Vineyard Tours is an exciting introduction to the Loire’s famous winemakers, its vineyards and majestic châteaux.

I’ll be lauching this new venture in the autumn of 2010 – for more information click here…

Vine Lodgings – Food and Travel Magazine July 2010

June 15, 2010

Next month’s Food and Travel magazine publishes a selection of fabulous vineyard holiday destinations.  Featured are seven award-winning wineries from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc and Provence. All the wineries (like  Chateau Saint Estève de Néri, featured below) are exceptional places.  Staying at any of these properties is a joy and it’s the best way to discover a wine region, its wines and the people who make them.

A spot of grape treading at Chateau Saint Estève de Néri 

Want to stay at one of the featured properties? Click on the property name for more details…

Bordeaux – Chateau Pierre de Lune, Chateau de la Grave, Chateau du Tertre

Burgundy – Chateau de Messey

Champagne – Domaine Ployez-Jacquemart

Languedoc and Provence – Domaine Gayda, Chateau Saint Estève de Néri

French Vineyards selected by the Guide Hachette des Vins 2010

April 1, 2010

Surprise, surprise! Over forty wines from the book “French Vineyards” have been selected by the 2010 edition of France’s wine Bible – the Guide Hachette. Serge Dubard’s wonderful red Pécharmant, Les Farcies du Pech’ 2007, is very worthy of its three stars – well done Serge and the team. Nine reds, whites and sparklers won two stars; in total the French Vineyards entries get 39 stars! You can stay at all these award-winning wineries and taste and buy their delicious wines at the cellar door – click on the winery’s name for all the details…




Reds – three stars

Château les Farcies du Pech’ Pécharmant 2007 ***





Reds – two stars

Domaine Borgnat, Bourgogne, Coulanges-la-vineuse 2007 **

Château Bujan, Côtes-de-bourg 2007 **

Domaine de l’Europe, Mercurey ‘Les Chazeaux’ 2007 **

Château Ricardelle, Languedoc La Clape ‘Blason’ 2007 **

Château Richelieu, Fronsac 2006 **

Reds – one star

Château Bellevue-Gazin, Premières-côtes-de-blaye 2007 *

Château le Bourdieu, Médoc 2006 *

Domaine de Clapier, Vaucluse 2006 *

Domaine Gayda, Pays d’Oc, ‘Syrah’ 2007 *

Domaine Lucien Jacob, Gevrey-chambertin 2007 *

Domaine des Marrans, Fleurie ‘Terroir du Pavillon’ 2007 *

Mas du Soleilla, Languedoc La Clape ‘Les Bartelles’ 2007 *

Château Monlot, Saint-émilion grand cru 2006 *

Château Pierre de Lune, Saint-émilion grand cru 2006 *

Château de Pintray, Côtes-de-castillon 2006 *

Domaine des Caves du Prieuré, Sancerre 2007 *

Domaine du Roncée, Chinon ‘Clos des Marronniers’ 2007 *

Château Saint-Estève de Néri, Côtes-du-luberon ‘Grande Réserve’ 2007 *

Reds – citation

Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire, Coteaux-varois-en-provence, ‘Cuvée du Prieur’ 2006

Les Amants de la Vigneronne, Faugères, ‘de Chair et de Sang’ 2007

Domaine de Beauséjour, Chinon 2007

Domaine de Bournet, Coteaux de l’Ardèche, ‘Cuvée Notre Dame des Songes’ 2007

Château Sartre, Côtes-de-bourg 2007

Le Clos de Caveau, Vacqueyras, ‘Fruit Sauvage’ 2006

Domaine Désertaux-Ferrand, Beaune 1er Cru Les Sceaux 2006

Domaine Désertaux-Ferrand, Côtes-de-nuits-villages ‘Les Perrières’ 2006

Château Pesquié, Côtes-du-ventoux ‘Terrasses’ 2007

Whites – two stars

Domaine Agapé, Alsace Riesling, ‘Isa’ 2007 **

Thierry Violot-Guillemard, Auxey-duresses 1er cru Les Reugnes 2007 **

Whites – one star

Château de Claribès, Sainte-foy-bordeaux 2008 *

Horcher, Alsace Riesling, ‘Cuvée Sélection’ 2007 *

Château de la Tuilerie, Costières-de-nîmes 2007 *

Whites – citation

Château Carbonneau, Sainte-foy-bordeaux, ‘Cuvée Margot Sauvignon blanc’ 2008

Domaine Guillot-Broux, Mâcon-villages Cruzille ‘Les Perrières’ 2006

Halbeisen, Alsace grand cru Altenberg-de-bergheim Gewurztraminer 2007

Château de Melin, Saint-romain ‘Sous Chateau’ 2007

Château de Pitray, Montlouis-sur-loire sec 2007

Rosés – one star

Domaine de Garbelle, Coteaux-varois-en-provence 2008 *

Rosés – citation

Domaine de Saint-Ferréol, Coteaux-varois-en-provence 2008

Sparking – two stars

Domaine du Clos de l’Épinay, Vouvray, Brut 2006 **

Pierson-Whitaker, Champagne ‘Réserve’ **

Read about them all in the book “French Vineyards” by Alastair Sawday’s.

Where can I learn more about wine?

March 27, 2010

From today’s Independent – Traveller’s Guide To: Wine journeys in Aquitaine…

“Among the courses on offer in the region, French Wine Adventures offers two-hour introductory sessions every Tuesday afternoon at 2pm during the season for €15. They are run by Caroline Feely, who, with her husband Sean, makes wine at the Château Haut Garrigue in Saussignac. The sessions begin with a tour of the château’s organic vineyard before moving inside for a more formal explanation of the appellation system, followed by a tasting. Feely also runs classes specialising in the grand cru classe wines, and a food and wine matching class takes place every Thursday afternoon at 3pm during the season; the cost is €25.”

Full atricle here…