What's an RHWine Tour Holiday like?
RHWine specialises in small group wine tour holidays. By taking a maximum of 10 people, usually fewer, we can visit small boutique vineyards and producers who give us the time to really get under the skin of the wine. RHWine researches the areas and ensures that each tour includes a mixture of types of producer, small boutique, medium sized and large scale producers so participants really get to see the difference in styles and production techniques.
The restaurants visited on RHWine Tour Holidays are all carefully selected and offer excellent local cooking at renowned restaurants. Accommodation is usually in 3* hotels although different accommodation is sometimes used.
Key to the tour is Robert knowledge of the area, the wines and the producers. He has spent years visiting the areas making contacts and the producers we visit are old friends of his now; some even coming to dinner with us. Usually we are the only ones visiting a vineyard or winery so have the undivided attention of the producer.
Tours usually start and and at an airport allowing clients to make their own travel arrangements and to spend more time in the region if required. Where possible, tour timings coincide with flight times.
What can you expect? ... read these summaries of recent tours.
May 2014 Bordeaux Wine Tour
This tour was timed to coincide with the Union des Grand Crus Bordeaux annual weekend which offers a fantastic opportunity to taste over 120 wines from top Châteaux; Figeac, La Conseillante, Gazin, Lascombes, Lagrange, Gruaud Larose, Leoville Barton, Batailley, ..... the list goes on and on.
Arriving in Bordeaux, first stop was at Hangar 14 and the Grand Degustation. The opportunity to taste so many top wines from different appellations is rare for those not in the wine trade. Each Château presented their 2011 vintage, and one other, and there were some absolute crackers on offer. The following day, the group participated in a UGCB tour to Graves, Pessac Léognan and Sauternes. First up was Château Smith Haut-Lafitte, a Grand Cru Classe estate where after a tour of the cellars and meeting the owners, we tasted a couple of wines.
This area is famed for white wines as well as red so it was great to be able to try the fresh dry white style.
The second visit to Château La Louviere was fascinating. Here, we were able to taste barrel samples of Semillon wine that had been aged in barrels made from different woods; new french oak, new Slovenian Oak and french oak with Acacia wood top.
A magnificent lunch of Scallop Tartare, Lamb, Cheeses and raspberry chocolate bomb followed, accompanied by Château La Louvière Blanc 2006, Rouge 2006, Rouge 2001 and Divinus Hébé 2006 Loupiac.
The final visit was to Ch Fargues, in Sauternes. Once owned by Château Yquem, this up and coming Château makes a delightful sweet wine with wonderful floral and apricot notes.
The following day, Robert from RHWine had arranged a day's visit to the Medoc. Starting with the 2ème Cru Classé Château Gruaud Larose in St Julien. It was a pleasure to have a tour of the vineyards and see the amount of work involved in producing the wine. They're building a new visitor tasting room at the Chateau which will be good to see next year.
After a look round the cellars and the old wines that are kept there, some dating back to 1815, we tasted the second wine, Sarget Gruaud Larose 2007 and Gruaud Larose 2004.
Lunch followed at Bistrot Chez Meme in Saint Julien Beychevelle and then to probably the most famous of Medoc appellations, Margaux to visit the 2ème Cru Classé Château Rauzan Gassies. After a visit to the cellars, we tasted three wines all owned by the Quie family; Ch. Bel-Orme (Haut Medoc,) Ch. Croziet-Bages (Pauillac), and Ch. Razaun Gassies (Marguax) It was good to be able to taste different appellations here and begin to compare the characteristics of each. The final visit was to Château Lalagune, an Haut Medoc property but which consistently punches way above its weight. It has a state of the art cellar meaning that no grapes are pumped around before the wine is made - and that's a very good thing. We were shown round the cellar by the young wine maker who has worked in New Zealand before the tasting. We tasted two wines, the second label Moulin Lalagune and Château Lalagune 2011 which is a bit more gutsy owing to the addition of 10% Petit Verdot in the cepage.
RHWine will be organising another holiday to Bordeaux from 30 May - 1 June 2015 to coincide with the UGCB Weekend
October 2013 Chianti Classico Wine Tour
This four night tour started at Pisa Airport and included a visit to Panizzi who produce the wonderful white wine Vernzccia di San Gimignano.
After checking into the Vignale Hotel in Radda in Chianti, we drove to Lamole to visit Suzanna Grassi at I Fabri.
Suzanna had been harvesting and pressing grapes all day but kindly allowed us to look round the small cellar before joining us at the excellent Ristaurant di Lamole for dinner accompanied by her wines. The following day started at Il Palagio in Panzano. Monia, the owner, kindly interrupted winemaking to show us round. It was good to see 'pumping over' in action! The second visit was to Rocca Del Macie, a large producer making over 1 million bottles of wine a year. They have a fantastic restaurant in the Chianti countryside where we drove to after the winery visit to have a four course lunch and a tasting of the wines.
In the afternoon we drove to Casaloste for a tour and tasting, followed by a late dinner in Le Panzanella restaurant.
On the third day we visited Castello di Ama, a top quality, leading Chianti producer which also has a modern art collection of leading artists; Daniel Bruenns, Yanish Kapoor and the like.
With grapes being picked, selected and harvested it was exciting to be in the midst of the action.
At the private tasting, we were privileged to taste the Il Chiousso Merlot which retails at over £100 a bottle.
May 2012 Chianti Classico Wine Tour
This tour concentrated on the Chianti region of Tuscany.
The group was met at Pisa Airport and driven to Chianti. The first visit was to I Fabbri, a small producer high in the hills making excellent Chianti Classico. We tasted the whole range of wines, toured the vineyard and winery and began to understand the characteristics of Sangiovese grapes and the Chianti style. High in the Chianti hills, with a class of Classico amongst the irises, there couldn't really have been a better start to the trip!
The tour was based at La Piazetta B&B in Panzanno. Each room has a veranda which was wonderful in the morning and evening. We dined in Taverna Sassolini in Panzanno that evening, a short walk from the B&B.
Friday saw the group visiting four wine estates. Firstly, Il Palagio in the Conco D'or, where some of the best Chianti Classico comes from. Here we explored the vineyard, winery and tasted the wines as well as had a master class in Olive Oil Tasting - an amazing experience. Next we drove to the west of Chianti near Castellina in Chianti to visit Rocca dell Macie. Here we had a private tour of the cellars where well over 1m bottle are produced each year, before driving off into the Tuscan Hills to Restaurant Fabbrizza for a 4 course lunch of Aubergine stack, wild boar raggu and pasta, mixed grilled meats and red currant desert. Each course was paired with a couple of wines so we really understood how well Chianti Classico goes with food. Lunch was a leisurely affair after which we drove to the Nittardi winery , deep in the hills. After a 20 minute drive along unmade roads we arrived and had a fascinating and detailed tour of the wine making cellar where cold filtering was being carried out. We then went to the tasting room and tasted the range of wines Nittardi produce, not just from Chianti. The last visit of the day was to Val Delle Corti, a small producer making only 35,000 bottles a year. Roberto Bianchi walked us round the vineyard, his 'micro cellar' where we tasted wines from the barrel, and gave us a super outdoor tasting of his excellent wines. Dinner was at Sollociccia owned by master butcher Dario Cecchini, a meat only restaurant in Panzanno where everyone sits together and the food just keeps coming; sweetbreads, braised beef, cheek, pork, steak tatare, battered meat and vegetables, roast meats, olive bread, and accompanied by wines from the vineyards we'd visited that day. Saturday mixed art and wine. We started at the amazing Castello di Ama wine estate, one of the best in Chianti. We joined a small group of wine makers for a tour of the significant art installations which are actually in the cellars and vineyards. Following a tasting of their wines (including the £110 a bottle Il Chusio ) we drove the short distance to the Chianti Sculpture Park. We had a relaxed private tour of the park, after which we had lunch in the owners house/art gallery.
Rosalda, the owner, dined with us and entertained us with stories of how she and her husband came to own the gallery and the park.
The rest of the day was spent in Siena, a beautiful city with much history before meeting up for dinner together.
The last morning was spent in the lovely Chianti town of Greve, before returning back to Pisa for the flights home.
With thanks to Alvin, who came on the tour, this is reproduced unedited:
Robert, who runs RHWine,
organised a wine tasting tour wine of the Chianti Classico region in Italy.
When deciding whether or not to
go, I was slightly apprehensive at forking out the amount Robert was
requesting for the trip. After all you get a perfectly pleasant holiday to
Greece or Egypt for less money. Also, having never been on a wine tour, I
did not know what to expect.
Now, having been on Robert's
tour, I consider this a unique experience and would whole heartedly recommend
it to all my friends, particularly those interested in wine. I think that
whether you are a wine buff or, like me, just appreciate a good glass every so
often, this trip has something to offer.
Robert selects the vineyards on
the tour very carefully. He chose both small, exclusive vineyards as well as
mid-sized and larger wine houses to give us an all rounded view of Chianti Classico
He knows the owners of the
smaller vineyards, and has a good rapport with them. His knowledge of the
region and having worked as a wine professional also gives him sway with the
larger wine producers, allowing us an experience that a normal tour group would
not otherwise get access to.
One of the biggest highlights for
me was at the start of the tour. We arrived at the airport in Pisa just after
lunch, where Robert met us. Immediately, we are whisked away to the
Tuscan countryside to visit a small vineyard, I Fabri, situated at the 'roof'
of Chianti in Lamole.
Coming in from London, we were
presented with a panoramic view of the Chianti with irises growing by the
roadside, basking in the Tuscan sun. There our holiday began.
The meals provided as part of the
tour were outstanding good. We enjoyed rustic Tuscan cooking with large
portions of meat and wine. One dish we had at the restaurant at Rocca delle
Marcie Vineyard was a ravioli in a wild boar raggu. When paired with their
Chianti classico, it was heavenly.
The trip is not only a good
holiday, it was also an educational one. We got front row seats to the wine
production process. We leant about the land (the terroir), the vineyards and
grapes, the vinification process; and most importantly, from the people that we
met, the passion of wine making. Armed with this knowledge, as well as
having had an intense few days of wine tasting, the mysticism surrounding
'good' and 'bad' wines diminishes.
The one thing that makes this trip special was talking
to some of the smaller Chianti Classico producers: Susanna, Monia and
What comes across more than anything else is their passion for
wine making and for life. Their sincerity and pride in what they do shines
through, and that you can taste in the quality of wine that they produce.
Speaking to them, being in the Tuscan countryside with wonderful food and wine,
if not only for a moment, brings into focus what life should be about.