Wine delights in the heart of the French countryside
There are many places in the South of France where one can drink good wine, but none more exclusive, more opulent and more historic than Château Lagrézette.
The oldest of Cahors' vineyards, this slice of French countryside has been turning out fine wines since the 7th century and today still produces some of the most exclusive varieties around.
Now, I know very little about wine, but I'm certainly not adverse to being educated; especially when it involves a private jet, an overnight stay in a castle and more fine food than is good for the waistline.
Yes, you did read that right. Private jet - my first experience of A-list air travel and, unfortunately, likely to be my last.
Château Lagrézette, listed as a historical monument since 1982, is today the private residence of Alain Dominique Perrin and not usually opened to the public.
Thankfully, brandishing a Marie Claire business card means you're not treated like the public and, following my skip across the English Channel, a few hours of wine tasting, wine-cellar exploring and vine-yard inspecting later, we were welcomed into this, frankly, sumptuous family home by Alain himself.
The secret, it seems, isn't just to taste the wine, but to drink it properly, accompanied by lots and lots of very good French food.
Bringing new meaning to the phrase 'wined and dined', I made my way through select glasses of Le Pigeonnier, Cuvée Dame Honneur and Château Lagrézette - the three most famous wines from the Château Lagrézette winery - followed by century-old port in front of a roaring open fire in one of Alain's numerous living rooms (does the word living room count when you're in a castle?).
Obviously, this treatment doesn't extend to everyone, but that doesn't mean if you're in the region you won't be welcomed with open arms. The château's wine shop is open throughout the year - the most fabulous alternative to Oddbins we can think of.
Le Pigeonnier, Cuvée Dame Honneur and Château Lagrézette wines can be bought in the UK from Harrods or ordered direct via www.chateau-lagrezette.tm.fr.
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