Passion Points: Food/Wine
Jean-Emmanuel Simond, thirty-five, is the founder of Oenotropie, a Paris company that creates wine tours for discerning amateurs and connoisseurs. He is also currently pursuing the prestigious Master of Wine title. Simond talks with Indagare about his passion for combining stellar wines with luxurious travel.
Tell us about your first encounter with wine. My paternal grandfather owned a hotel in Chamonix until the 1980s. When I turned eighteen, he gave me all the bottles left from the hotel’s cellar, including treasures such as a 1911 Yquem, a 1945 Mouton Rothschild and a 1964 Dom Pérîgnon. So I started out drinking the very best and became instantly fascinated.
What sets your trips apart? I customize each tour and take clients to estates that are usually only accessible to wine industry professionals. A typical visit starts by exploring the vineyard, followed by a tasting of barrel samples in the cellar. If we are lucky, older vintages will be offered. In regions where the estates are small, such as Burgundy, the winemaker or oenologist often conducts the tasting.
How long are the tours? A day to two weeks.
How many people usually participate? In Tuscany or Champagne, a tour with fifty can easily be organized. In Burgundy, I tend to refuse more than six, simply because the estates are very small.
For connoisseurs already familiar with Burgundy and Rhône, which lesser-known French regions do you recommend? Loire, Alsace, Jura, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and Southwest France.
If I picked Jura, what would I see? I love Jura! Meeting legendary producer Jacques Puffeney, tasting the regional specialty chicken with vin jaune and fresh morels, and discovering the room where grapes are dried for vin de paille at Stéphane Tissot, one of the top growers, are just a few highlights.
What was your most memorable tour? On my first tour to Piedmont, one evening an enthusiastic client requested to visit one last producer when it was already getting dark. At the last minute, I had to change our dinner plans to a restaurant that would be open late. We ended up at an amazing place where we were offered to join a table in the kitchen with the chef and two well-known producers. It was unexpected and unforgettable—especially since the enthusiastic client was New York gourmet-food entrepreneur Eli Zabar. Missing a great meal would have been the worst thing!
From $1,375 per day for a couple, including lunch, dinner, lodging, transportation and vineyard visits.
Read a destination report on Paris.
Learn about French cooking classes.
Read about private bike tours through Provence.
Read about wine tastings in Paris.
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