On August 15, 2017, our team was invited to Maison Assouline in Piccadilly Circus to an afternoon with Air France to taste and enjoy their selection of in flight wines. This was without any doubt a most beautiful and enjoyable experience. Maison Assouline is a real treasure in the centre of London. The beautifully decorated room was the ideal setting for this affair. From its furnishings to the library features – in particular the stunning ebony cabinets, book selection and of course the stunning artefacts brought to London from allover the world, these all were perfect accompaniments to the wines Air France unveiled on the day.
Air France presented an Award Winning selection of wines which have been served over the course of the year. Over the course of the afternoon we found out how much thought and passion goes into selecting the wines Air France serves on its flights. The prestigious wine and champagne list has been created with great attention to detail and with the consumer in mind by Paolo Basso, named the world’s best sommelier in 2013, and by wine experts Bettane and Desseauve, authors of “Le Grand Guide des vins de France” (“Bettane and Desseauve’s Guide to Wines of France”).
Air France is the only airline in the world that offers a glass of champagne to all long-haul travellers! Needless to say, this is unique and more than enough to start the trip on the right foot. Most impressive is also the fact that Air France circle the wines around and they ensure the list is update regularly. With such an impressive list, I am certain nobody would mind if the 2010 Chateau Beausejour was there to stay! Nonetheless, the wine team here thinks it is important to excel and innovate constantly.
The tasting was conducted by the most knowledgeable and fun Tom “WineChap” Harrow, the co-founder of the successful Honest Grapes, a columnist and commentator for various luxury media and one of the UK’s most influential fine wine “fixers” and hosts. The wine journey that he took on consisted of:
TAITTINGER COMTES DE CHAMPAGNE BLANCS DE BLANCS, 2005
Produced in the cellars of the former Saint-Nicaise abbey (13th century) in Reims, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs receives all the lavish care and attention it needs to reach its peak. Every bottle of Comtes de Champagne strictly adheres to all of the following to make it such a rare luxury and the connoisseurs choice; the Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs cuvée is made entirely from Chardonnays from only the best vines in the prestigious Côte des Blancs; it is only produced when the harvest is of exceptional quality worthy of a vintage year; and only the wine from the first press – the Cuvée – is used: a sure guarantee of finesse. 5% of the wines used to make it have been aged for 4 months in new oak barrels (a third of which are renewed every year), enhancing the intrinsic qualities and complexities of the final blend, and only after slow and patient ageing for almost 10 years in the Saint-Nicaise chalk pits (Crayères) does this cuvée of exceptional quality come out into the light.
The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2005 is a very expressive champagne offering generosity, volume and complexity. It already offers a very pleasurable drinking, but its structure and richness suggest that it is an interesting champagne to lay down
A finely aromatic, rich and creamy Blanc de Blancs at its best, with a biscuity, aromatic nose and powerful flavour.
GUIGAL CONDRIEU, 2014
The famous enclave of Condrieu is well known for the richly exotic and perfumed wines it produces from the rare Viognier grape variety. Guigal was part of the resurgence of Condrieu and uses oak to impart extra nuances to the wine.
The GUIGAL estate owns vineyards in Condrieu and the Côte-Rôtie with plots which produce some of its most exceptional wines including, « La Doriane » in Condrieu, and the famous Côte-Rôtie Crus, « La Mouline », « La Turque », « La Landonne » and the Côte-Rôtie, « Château d’Ampuis ».
The GUIGAL establishment vinifies and ages the wines from the Northern Rhône appellations of Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage in its cellars at Ampuis. The prestigious wines of the Southern Rhône appellations of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Tavel and Côtes-du-Rhône are also aged in the cellars at Ampuis.
The delicately elusive perfume suggests pear, spices and honeysuckle, while on the palate the wines is surprisingly rich and full-bodied, a wine for both the intellect and the senses.
GERARD BERTRAND CHÂTEAU LA SAUVAGEONNE GRAND VIN RED, 2013
The Château la Sauvageonne is a legendary winemaking estate, where optimal sun exposure, perfect location and an exceptional terroir combine to produce wines of distinctive character. This Cuvée Grand Vin is the fruit of the union between an extraordinary terroir, an original selection of grape varieties and the superior skill of our winemakers.
The Terrasses du Larzac appellation is located in the northern reaches of the Hérault département, a region known for its substantial temperature variations: the distance from the sea and proximity of the Causse provide a touch of freshness on summer nights, allowing the grapes to mature slowly and gradually, developing a rich, deep colour.
All of the grapes are harvested by hand, placed in special bins and transferred to the winery, where they undergo rigorous sorting. Each variety and each individual plot of vines is dealt with separately. Some of the Syrah grapes are added to the vats in whole bunches, for carbonic maceration. The rest of the Syrah and the Grenache are de-stemmed and vinified in the traditional manner. Once malolactic fermentation is complete the wines are transferred to barrels, with each variety kept separate.
Prominent echoes of the scrubland in the nose, with jammy fruit and lively spice. Subtle hints of dark fruit and gingerbread. Elegant and refined tannins frame the palate, with great balance and vivacity.
CHÂTEAU BEAU-SÉJOUR BÉCOT, ST-ÉMILION, 1ER GRAND CRU CLASSÉ B, 2010
Château Beauséjour was once a vineyard cultivated by the monks of the Church of St-Martin during the Middle Ages. Rated a Premier Grand Cru Classé since the start of the Saint-Émilion wine classification system, Château Beauséjour, a beautiful gem of the Saint-Émilion wine region, has been managed since 1847 by the Duffau Lagarrosse family. Enjoying an exceptional location and a first-rate terroir, the château’s vines produce some of France’s best wines, famous around the world (best 2009 vintages, rated 100/100 by Parker, etc.). The wines of Saint-Émilion, like the other grands crus of Bordeaux and French wines in general, represent prestigious, luxury products.
Needless to say, the 2010 vintage is one of the best vintages to come out of Bordeaux and one to come by quite rarely. It is still young, but beautiful nonetheless.
Right on the limestone plateau, this has a lovely delivery of extremely ripe black fruits dotted through with minerality and little pulses of electricity.
CHATEAU DE FESLES BONNEZEAUX BLANC, VALLÉE DE LA LOIRE, 2011
Bonnezeaux is a tiny village appellation in the Loire’s Thouarcé district, in which Château de Fesles is perhaps the most famous producer. This is a dessert wine to rival top Vouvray, made from fully ripened Chenin grapes, including a proportion of botrytised berries.
Exhibits a deep, yellow colour with gold tints. It has a highly concentrated bouquet with subtle aromas of fig, quince, pear, milk caramel and white pepper.
The evening ended with a top of from all of these wonderful wines and some fun facts and a wine quiz! We also took back some very thoughtful, beautiful goodie bags which contained a gift from each of the members involved in preparing this event. We simply cannot wait for our next flight with Air France. To have such a beautiful inflight wine experience is truly unique and incentive enough to book that next trip. What better way to wine travel than to have the perfect glass of wine as soon as you set your foot on the airplane?!
Air France flies to all of our current Wine and Food destinations. All the information on how book your flight and the inflight dining and wine experience can be found HERE.