I know what a prince in a fairy tale feels like – thanks to a stay in a château with a moat, in a bedroom in a turret. The beautiful Château d’Etoges in Champagne was one of the highlights of a wine-tasting holiday in France.
It’s not every day you get to experience the sheer elegance of a château like it.
Located 25 kilometres south of Épernay, the 17th century château was destroyed in the 19th century and rebuilt. It had survived more destruction shortly before we arrived. The orangerie, where dinner is usually served, had been damaged in a fire, so we ate in the main house.
Our bedroom overlooked the moat and the pretty gardens beyond. The décor had what could politely be described as a touch of faded glamour about it – but that was part of its appeal.
The trip was the second to be organised by the Sussex Wine Club. The first had been a champagne-tasting weekend in Reims, the high point of which was an evening at the Château Pommery.
When we received an email about a longer trip to Burgundy, we booked straight away. Unsurprisingly, the break proved popular and all the places were soon filled.
“The trip was the second to be organised by the Sussex Wine Club. The first had been champagne-tasting in Reims”
Three things stand out in my mind from the trip – apart from Château d’Etoges, of course. The first is a rustic meal in an out-of-the-way hilltop restaurant, where we were served the best pâté I have ever eaten. Coarse and garlicky, it was truly delicious.
The second was Chablis. Our night at the Château d’Etoges was a stopover en route to the town 150 kilometres further south, where we would spend the following day.
The third is the day we were taken under the wing of the Charles Thomas vineyard. We drank more high-quality wine in that one day than some people get to taste in their whole lives… after which we then went for a terrific dinner, served with plenty more wine. There were a few sore heads on the coach the following morning.
But that, as they say, is another story.