Exquisite French food, wine tastings, delicious appetizers, regional cheese selections and cocktail hours – this is the culinary heaven you’ll experience on board – and on excursions from L’Impressioniste, the river barge in Burgundy. From the moment we boarded the barge and were handed our champagne flutes and nibbles of little Dijon mustard-filled savory bits it was nothing short of a taste buds heaven.
For each meal there were carefully chosen red and white, or sometimes rose wines depending on the meals on offer. What I found refreshing was the fact that the dinner wouldn’t start until all guests and the captain were seated down. The chef and the lovely staff would then takes turns to introduce the courses of the meal, as well as describe the wines and their history. And one cannot forget the cheese platters, served after the main course and prior to the dessert. It seems that every village has their own special cheese, and therefore we had plenty of new cheese varieties to try!
The passengers were treated for cocktails and savory nibbles during the cocktail hour that preceded the dinner, and true to the French style the drinks were refreshing but more towards the bitter than overly sweet in taste – such as this typically English summer cocktail made of gin-based Pimms above. The cocktail hour provided a much-needed moment to relax after a day of sightseeing and wine-tasting and also gave an opportunity to have a little chat with fellow passengers and enjoy the views of the passing Burgundy countryside waking up to spring.
Our first trip destination was Château André Ziltener where we had wine tasting session both in the cellar and the tasting room with instructions for newbies on how wine tastings work and how the taste of the wine can be described. Prior the tasting we toured the vineyard itself and learned how local wine quality was ranked based on where in the valley the grapes were growing. I loved the multi-coloured glass tabled that was used for the wine tasting, and it came with an interesting story, according to which historically “in order to better the quality of wine the monks used to test it through the luminosity of the glass panes.”
Château André Ziltener is located in the picturesque village of Chambolle-Musigny, where you can literally walk from one wine tasting room to another as good quality wine is the specialty of this village. They are also an accredited four-star hotel with a total of ten charming, yet luxurious rooms, suites and apartments and have been called as the most beautiful hotel in Burgundy. This trip certainly is a heaven for those who want to stop and smell the flowers and take a moment to relax, enjoy great food, wine and sightseeing historical little towns and villages!
The culinary and wine tours were part of the European Waterways river cruise in Burgundy. Prices for a 6 night cruise aboard the 12 passenger hotel barge L’Impressionniste are from $4,750 per person in a twin/double en suite cabin, including all meals, wines, an open bar, excursions and local transfers. Contact European Waterways: Toll Free 1-877-879-8808 and check out www.gobarging.com for more details.
Disclosure: I was a media guest of the European Waterways, and received a free one night stay at Hotel Westminster, and the river cruise on L’Impressionniste. All other costs associated with this visit are my own, and my opinions are always my own.