CONTRAST TOURS

BORDEAUX AND ITS WINES, AT HARVEST TIME

Sept 22 - Oct 4, 2018

ABOUT THIS TOUR: This tour is a celebration, a thank you for some of my most ardent and supporting. During this tour we will enjoy Bordeaux at its best, during harvest time. The weather is normally most pleasant, and the region oozes the delight of the bounty which just came out from the vines. Expect a tour with no equal in which nothing will be too nice, so that you may come back home as if you had been traveling in a fairytale, complete with majestic castles and wonders.

I chose to make this tour very urban, as Bordeaux is the quintessential European city, and actually by now one of the trendiest destinations in the world. Not only is Bordeaux utterly pleasant to live in, with its weather, its 12th to 18th century glorious architecture, which earned it a spot on UNESCO's World Heritage List, but also because its urbanism and culture make it a city with a rich past and vibrant present and future. Therefore, we will stay in the center of Bordeaux and take daily trips from that location to vineyards and surrounding countryside. Please take a look at the itinerary below and feel free to contact me with any questions.
Limited to 12 travelers*. 4 Spots Remaining
bordeaux, place de la bourse, miroir d'eau
Bordeaux, place de la Bourse and Miroir d'Eau
bordeaux, grosse cloche
Architecture in Bordeaux's Historic Center
Hotel
Room at our hotel in Bordeaux
chateau d'yquem
Chateau d'Yquem
yquem
Vignes d'Yquem
giorgios bakatsias dinner
Dinner with Giorgios
Pont Cadillac, bordelais
Le Pont de Cadillac
lillet
Lillet's Historic plant and Headquarter
cap ferret, chez Boulan
Our lunch location at the Cap Ferret
dune pilat, vue la corniche
View on the Dune du Pilât from the Restaurant
cathedrale bazas
The Beautiful Cathedral in Bazas
Chateau Chatard, vignes
Chateau Chatard
Cathedrale Saint andre bordeaux
Flirting with clouds at the top of the Mont Ventoux
Marche Capucins, Bordeaux
A shop at the market where we have lunch Sunday
chateau castera
Chateau Castéra
Chateau de Roquetaillade
Chateau de Roquetaillade
paris, eiffel tower
Vue Imprenable
bordeaux, place de la comedie
Bordeaux, near our Hotel
cite du vin, wine shop
Cité du Vin
Sauternes
Sauternes
ciron
The Ciron river
patrick Lamothe
Patrick Lamothe of Chateau Haut Bergeron by the Ciron river
Yquem
Yellow d'Yquem
nicolas roux, chateau coulonge
Nicolas Roux, owner, vintner and soul of Chateau Coulonge
lillet
Where the Lillet Brothers were ranging the labels
pape clément
Chateau Pape Clément
alain germon, jura-plaisance
Alain Germon
bordeaux port négrier
Our guide through the Bordeaux of the slave trade
mont ventoux, alps
Church near the Saint Michel Neighborhood in Bordeaux
bordeaux, shop
Shop in the quartier Saint Michel
medoc
Médoc
Malromé, toulouse Lautreck
Malromé, Toulouse Lauteck's castle
tgv
High Speed Train to Paris
ITINERARY:
* Saturday September 22: Departure from RDU (or wherever you depart from) to Paris CDG via Delta direct flight at 5:33pm.


* Sunday September 23: Arrival in Paris at 7:45am, then Air France flight to Bdx at 9:35am. Arrival at Bordeaux Merignac at 10:30am.

Transfer to our 4 star hotel located in Bordeaux's Golden Triangle.
This day will be dedicated to acclimating after the trans-Atlantic flight.
Lunch at the market in the old town, oysters, charcuterie, fromages surrounded by the activity of a thriving food market in the Bordeaux's halles, and with the wines from one of our best producers. Let's start strong!
After lunch some might want to take a nap at the hotel, others will want to take a stroll with me in the city and start discovering the architectural treasures of the town.

It will be possible for folks to Uber themselves or call a vélo-taxi if they don't feel like walking.

Aperitif at a café, then dinner in town.
* Monday September 24: We will spend the day at the Cité du Vin, a new generation museum, where wine comes to life through an immersive, sensorial approach, all set within an evocative architectural design. The place is loaded with interactive activities destined to teach the visitors the history and geography of wine, as well as give the essentials of oenology.

We will have lunch at the 7th floor restaurant overlooking all of Bordeaux.

Tramway ride back to the center of town and stroll on the docks.

Aperitif on the banks of the river and dinner in town.



* Tuesday September 25: Serge Opillard joins us. We will drive you to Sauternes. Sauternes is about 45 minutes away from Bordeaux's center, and is of course the little village that gave its name to the profoundly aromatic liquoreux wine produced in the Sauternais, which along with the Médoc, is probably in the most beautiful countryside in the region.

We will first visit Chateau Haut Bergeron, which produces excellent and long established Sauternes. This estate is the only one with a plot on an island surrounded by the Ciron river which is at the origin of the weather conditions that are key to the characteristics of the wine. Those weather conditions cause the noble mold that makes the Sauternes what it is. The plot on that island gives a very fresh and modern Sauternes with aromas of pineapple and exotic fruit. We will visit it after lunch and walk a short trail around the island allowing us to digest while exploring the habitat created by this unique and lovely river.

It is worth noting that the lunch with the winemaker will be a culinary treat with recipes promoting the use and pairing with Sauternes, and promises to be quite delightful and totally out of the beaten path.

After all this we will go to Chateau d'Yquem for a visit of the absolute best Sauternes there is. Yquem is one of the most exclusive wine estates in the world, owned by the same group that owns Louis Vuitton, Moet Hennessy and many other prestigious luxury brands. Yquem, though, is not chichi. We are just here at the very top of the wine world, a few notches above state of the art. This visit will make evident why it is considered by most as one of the very best wines in the world.

Dinner in Town
* Wednesday September 26: Visit of Chateau Coulonge in the Entre Deux Mers region. Nicolas Roux is the descendant in a long lineage of wine makers. His family has owned this estate since 1804. He will open his farm to us and share his vintage wine techniques. Chateau Coulonge produces outstanding Entre Deux Mers which is more well-known for its whites, but also sometimes reveals some amazing reds, which will be verified here.

We will have lunch at the farm, allowing ourselves for a short immersion in this true winemaking facility, which like Nicolas, is as authentic as it gets.

After Chateau Coulonge we will take the charming bridge of Cadillac to drive across the Graves region and stop at the Lillet original plant, which as you can tell on the photograph on the left, has retained its original charm. Lillet is an apéritif famous all over the world and issued from wines from the region. We will learn its history and will taste its newest versions, which are hard to find in the U.S. On the right you can see an original piece of furniture from the wine merchants who created Lillet and used to deal in a lot of famous wines, including Chateau d'Yquem.

We will then head to Pessac-Leognan for our second Grand Cru Classé visit: Chateau Pape Clément. This estate goes back to the origins of wine making in Bordeaux and its historic importance cannot be overstated, as all over Bordeaux we see connections with this castle. After all, its owner was indeed a Pope, and one that changed the course of history! This estate is now in the hands of Bernard Magrez, not an investment firm. Mr. Magrez is from Bordeaux, built an empire in the wine industry, but still manages it himself. You will find a lot of soul in the quality of this visit.


Dinner in Town.


* Thursday September 27: Today is a very special treat! Bordeaux may seem at first like a river town, and it is, but it also is very close to the Atlantic Ocean where many Bordelais spend their weekends and vacation. So today we are going to the most prized spot on the ocean near Bordeaux, Arcachon and the Cap Ferret. Both places are separated from each other by the entrance channel to a large bay which is largely devoted to raising oysters.

We will drive to Arcachon, park there, and take a boat across the bay. There we will have a 30 minutes walk to a lovely oyster shack on a deck overlooking the bay with the Dune du Pilât on the horizon as a mirage (see photograph on the right). The menu will be what you see, as well as oysters and local seafood.

I'll confess, oysters are one of my sins, and never have I seen such an ideal place to have some. After this healthy meal we will take a walk along the bay and go see the furious ocean. Then walk back to the dock and take the boat back to where we began.

Please note that there is a fair amount of walking on this day.

On the Arcachon side of the bay we will go see the Dune du Pilât, the largest dune in Europe. After all this exercise it will be time to have an aperitif at a posh bar designed by a star designer, and which overlooks the dune with a gorgeous view of the bay.

The place is also a trendy restaurant and we will have dinner there.

* Friday September 28: Today we are going to Saint Emilion. We will first visit the Domaine Jura-Plaisance that sits in Montagne Saint Emilion on the edge of Saint Emilion, really close to prestigious domaines like Cheval Blanc.

Jura-Plaisance has retained its vintner spirit, is French owned and is the result of one single man, Alain Germon, who does everything wine related there--from trimming the vines to the whole vinification process. The result is a tremendous genuine wine, rich in dark and blue fruits. While the harvest will happen in the field surrounding the chais, Alain will introduce us to his approach and explain how he conducts the vines and what makes his wine so genuine in a place like Saint Emilion where that has become hard to find,

We will have lunch in a lovely restaurant, on the left bank of the Dordogne, not far from Saint Emilion.

In the afternoon we will visit another estate, a Grand Cru in Saint Emilion Proper, one with intimate connections with the very root of the village: its Monolithic church. We will enjoy a thorough visit of the domaine with its owner, then we will visit te Church and the village and will finish the day in the most genuine restaurant of the town.


* Saturday September 29:
Today we are going to the tip of the Graves region in a town named Bazas. It is market day and this is a market and a town with a middle ages impression. The market is a true and lively market that brings a gentle chaos to the town. It takes place on the main square in front of the Cathedral, one of the very nicest churches in the region.

Bazas is also known for its beef, and we cannot pass on that. We will have lunch in a popular "steakhouse" of the town, right on the market place. The owner is actually American and has a connection with North Carolina.

After our steak with Foie Gras, we will seek redemption in history, with a visit of the nearby Castle that belonged to Henri IV (the first Bourbon who ended the war of religions). This is a lovely 16th century castle, very well preserved, and which was the theater of Queen Margot's adventures!

It will then be time to visit Chateau Lehoul, the best winemaker in the Graves appellation. I am proud to be Eric Fonta's only agent in the U.S., as he is overwhelmingly recognized as a cut above everybody in the Graves appellation. We will already have had his wines during this tour, but this will be a chance to discuss his techniques and philosophy with him and delve into his encyclopedic wine and oenology knowledge. The man is one of the best tasters I have ever met.

It is not over, from Chateau Lehoul we will go to Chateau Chatard, about 1/2 hour away. Chateau Chatard is in the hills on the other side of the Garonne, and technically in Entre Deux Mers. They produce one wine, a red, a Côtes de Cadillac, which is typically sold out by the time the next vintage comes. It is bright, fruity and joyful, just like its owners, Anne and Jean-Rémy Larrat. They bought their farm a few years ago and have turned it into a lively place where events happen all the time. We will have a visit and a chance to experience the beauty and serendipity of this location as well the Larrats' well-known conviviality during a dinner with the family and maybe the harvest crew if there is harvest that day.

* Sunday September 30: Today we relax with a light, take-it-easy schedule. Those who want will attend a walking tour, "The Bordeaux of the Slave Trade," hosted by a Franco-Senegalese gentleman who has researched this matter in depth. There is a lot of Africans in Bordeaux, traditionally well integrated, and their presence may be traced to the triangular slave trade that Bordeaux participated in, and on which it built its wealth. Mr. Diallo will walk us through that history and its remnants still present in the town's architecture.

Lunch will be at the market again, as it is too preciously rare to find such a vibrant, colorful and tasteful market. After lunch everybody will do what they want, including continuing to explore the town's wonders, with me or on their own.

Apéritif at a popular café and dinner in an African restaurant with Mr. Diallo.
* Monday October 1st: Today we start our exploration of the Médoc, that large band of land northwest of Bordeaux that follows the Garonne river rather closely, almost all the way to the ocean.

We will go toward the tip of the Médoc, for a visit of Chateau Castéra, a lovely estate with a sizable and very established production in this part of the M´´doc under the Ocean's influence. We will have a visit of this beautiful property and will enjoy lunch at the castle and in company of Mr. Darmusey, the general manager and very pleasant fellow as well as the harvest crew. This lunch promises to be very authentic and colorful, a rare experience reserved to close friends.

In the afternoon on our way back to Bordeaux we will visit Chateau Pichon Baron, a magnificent Grand Cru Classé estate in Pauillac.

Dinner back in Bordeaux.


* Tuesday October 2: How could we go to Bordeaux, see all these castles and not really explore some of them? Today we visit aristocracy! First we visit the father of all castle forts, see photograph on the right. It is the father of all castle forts, not in terms of history or chronology, but because of style. This gorgeous castle which tells you at first sight what it is about, was featured in a James Bond film, as well as some French ones, we are really in the aristocracy of aristocracy! As a mater of fact, this estate, this castle, has been in the current owner's family for 700 years. That's right, there his no typo, 700 years!!! No need to say that this is the real deal. And they also produce their own wine, a white that we will taste during this VIP visit where the owner himself we'lll take us where he normally only take his friends.

After this we'll have lunch in the starred restaurant where Surge Opillard, my second in command during this tour, was premier sommelier de France for 30 years. This is a culinary temple, you might want to have a light breakfast!

After lunch we will have another VIP visit, at Toulouse's Lautreck's castle where he lived, loved and died. The visit will touch on the artist's life and work, and we will also have a tasting of the estate's wines.

Dinner back in Bordeaux.


* Wednesday October 3: Serge Opillard will test our wine knowledge acquisition with a game of recognition of certain aromas and analysis of wine through blind tastings and the like. Maybe a short last free stroll, then lunch in town before heading to the train station, for a high speed 2 hour ride to Paris.

Arrival at our lovely hotel near the Seine river in Saint Germain des Prés.


Apéritif and dinner in Paris.


* Thursday October 4: Taxi to Paris Roissy Airport. Delta direct flight to RDU, or any other flight that will get you where you came from.


See all the Paris options for those wishing to extend their stay in Paris, either touring the town with me or on their own. Your return date will be booked following your specifications. Please note that depending on your return dates, the price for the flight back may change, although most likely minimally.
La Palette, café, bistrot, paris
Des Amants dans mon Café
ABOUT THIS VOYAGE:
Jean-Christian Rostagni, Monsieur Contraste
Jean-Christian Rostagni

This is Your Hosts
Lineup:

to learn more about these characters, click on the thumbnail and then on "Open" in the lightbox in order to see what they are up to.

René Tanguy, marin
Serge Opillard


This tour offers an in depth exploration of the Bordeaux region focusing on its wines without forgetting the region's history and geography. There will be a meet and greet pre-tour dinner at Parizade restaurant in Durham in August compliments of Contrast Tours.

DATES: September 22 - October 4, 2018 with an optional extension in Paris for those who wish.

Limited to 12 travelers* plus me and my Lieutenant Serge Opillard (see photo on right side).

$8,250 per person in accommodations for two. The single accommodation supplement is $1,300. If you don't have a traveling companion and are prepared to share a room, let us know and we will try to pair you.

Price includes airfare in Main Cabin, hotel, meals, including the meet and greet dinner at Parizade, wine, transportation, entrance fees when applicable, and should be considered all-inclusive, save for beverages in your room or at the bar and other services you might want to enjoy and are not part of the group activities. Contrast Tours purchases the Group Protection plan, which offers benefits for Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption and more, on behalf of all travelers. If interested in the optional Cancel For Any Reason* coverage please contact Contrast Tours for rates and information. A copy of the plan document will be provided.
*CFAR is not available to residents of NY.

See all the Paris options


Photography: I will happily provide photographic assistance and share my photographer's perspective throughout the tour.

During this journey you will be able to compare Grand Crus Classés, such as Chateau d'Yquem, Chateau Pape Clément, with lesser known wineries, which nevertheless provide excellent wines at a great value. Our meals will typically be paired with wines from the wineries that we visit.

You will be able to purchase wine from the wineries that I represent and for which I am setting up importation here in NC. You will have a substantial discount extended to you for a delivery of the order that you will place during the tour through one of my resellers who may have introduced you to Contrast Tours. For the Grand Crus Classés, Contrast Tours will group your purchases to be shipped through a special service. These wine purchases at the estate are shipped here and dispatched to you upon arrival. The price per shipping is dependent of the quantity of bottles shipped and will be communicated to you prior from departure. The ballpark is 12-18€ per bottle. Feel free to inquire about this.

A "Carnet de Route" will be published about this trip and a copy will be provided to you prior to departure. This booklet will include a detailed itinerary with a description of sites and wineries that we will visit, as well as descriptions of the wines we will enjoy, with enough space for you to take notes and keep a diary should you wish to.

The itinerary below is subject to modification due to scheduling considerations. Please note that this is an epicurean journey, and while I will gladly satisfy special requests when possible, I cannot guarantee being able to accommodate all dietary needs. Please inquire if this is a matter of concern.

Please email me (use Contact Us button below) if you want to book or have any questions. You may also call me: 919-416-1111.

* If we have one an odd number of participants, the number of travelers could go up to 13.
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Giorgios Bakatsias
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Giorgios Bakatsias


Giorgio is an artist chef of Greek origins that has established himself over several decades, as one of the very most prominent restaurateur in North Carolina. His hospitality group counts an impressive list of restaurants across the Triangle, Charlotte and Asheville. They are all characterized by an acute sense of aesthetics and food creativity.

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eric hodge, wunc
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Jean-Christian Rostagni

a.k.a.

Monsieur Contraste


My name is Jean-Christian Rostagni, I am a photographer, and as such the subject of Rodrigo Dorfman's film Monsieur Contraste. Here is my photographer's website.

I am French and I have been living in the Triangle, North Carolina, since 1993. Over the years several gracious people expressed that they would like to travel with me as a guide in France. I wanted to see if that was true, and this is how Contrast Tours was created. You might want to read this article that explains the genesis of Contrast Tours as well as its philosophy in which art and wine get married.

We specialize in wine tours in France that provide an authentic French experience of voluptuous quality. I started with a tour of the Rhône Valley and its wines, as that is the region that I am from, and know it very well. It is also a region that lands itself to this type of travel due to climate, geography and history. I have now developed this tour of Bordeaux with the help of Serge Opillard (see below) and a few other friends, notably my friend Jacques Barbe, a veteran of the "Bordelais."

I hope to have the pleasure to transport you.

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Serge Opillard
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Serge Opillard


Serge Opillard is a Premier Somelier de France who has was sommelier at the starred restaurant Darroze in Langon from which he retired. His knowledge of the wines, notably Bordeaux ones, but not only, cannot be overstated, nor can he praised too much for his gentleness and natural elegance. I cannot think of a better companion to assist us in our exploration of the Bordelais.
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Bordeaux, place de la bourse, mirois d'eau
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Bordeaux, place de la Comedie
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Bordeaux, Grosse cloche
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cite du vin
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Sauternes
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Chateau d'Yquem
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ciron
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Chateau d'Yquem, vignes
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Patrick Lamothe, Chateau Haut Bergeron
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giorgios bakatsias, contrast tours dinner
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Chateau d'Yquem, wine tasting
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pont de cadillac, bordelais
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chateau coulonge, nicolas roux
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lillet
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lillet, etiquettes
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cap ferret, cabane
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GChateau Pape Clement, cellar, cave
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dune pilat
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alain germon, chateau jura-plaisance
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cathedrale bazas
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caseneuve, henri IV
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chateau chatard, vignes, bordeaux
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Karfa Sira Diallo, Bordeaux Port Negrier
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cathedrale saint andre, bordeaux
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eglise sainte croix, bordeaux
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marche des capucins, bordeaux
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imprimerie boucherie, bordeaux
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medoc
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chateau castera, medoc
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Chateau de Roquetaillade
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Chateau de Malromé, Toulouse-Lauteck
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tgv, train, france
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tour eiffel, paris
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La Palette, café, bistrot, paris