Founder of discerning boutique travel website i-escape (www.i-escape.co.uk) Nikki Tinto and husband Aidan, were with us again this autumn, forming their own Wine Weekend house party with friends that they have introduced to Rigaud. This was their third paying visit, they have already joined two of our family house parties with baby Poppy. We really should make more of their endorsement. Nikki and Aidan are THE authority upon independent boutique travel and they choose to spend a fair amount of their own holiday euros at Rigaud.
The i-escape Wine Weekend was a deliberately relaxed style of wine tour. In St Emilion we visited Grand Cru Classé Chateau Beau Séjour Bécot along with Chateau Fontrazade where the lovely Madame proprietor showed us her wines and her horses. Another highlight was lunch at La Puce, something of a St Emilion establishment, where they serve five or six courses of whatever is available that day, alongside vine workers, wine merchants and Gendarmes. It’s usually an intimidating real French experience but as a group of ten we held our ground.
The following day we headed south, driving for half an hour across the stunning rolling hills of the Entre Deux Mers vineyards, to Sauternes. We were received at the classified estate of Chateau Guiraud where they were mid harvest. We learned all about how Bordelais protectionism brought about the region’s delicious dessert wine and tasted the rotten grapes which produce it. The tasting here was nothing short of magnificent although dangerous – we ended up buying a half case to add to the Rigaud cellar. The Wine Weekend was a fabulous success as always and we’re planning several more for 2010.