New Direct Line from London to Bordeaux to Launch in 2026

The “wine train” a new direct train line launching in 2026 will transport you from London to Bordeaux in just five hours!

Currently, anyone making the journey will need to get a flight or two trains: the Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris’ Gare du Nord and a TGV service from Paris’ Montparnasse station to Bordeaux.

A spokesman for HSI, which operates the UK Eurostar route, said there was a “clear demand” for a direct train route from London to Bordeaux, and said they were aiming to begin in 2026.

The direct train is still in the planning stages. The new direct train line is also expected to pave the way for future wine trains. This is the ultimate aim from HSI chief exec Dyan Crowther (behind the UK leg of the Channel Tunnel railway line), is hoping to open a series of new routes from 2026 in a bid to offer lower carbon emission alternatives.

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Rioja to host the 2023 World’s Best Vineyards

“The World’s Best Vineyards” list is back in 2023 and will be hosted by Rioja, Spain.  Showcasing the best of wine tourism across the globe, the annual “World’s Best Vineyards” list will be revealed at a special live event in July.

As well as its celebrated wineries, charming towns and quaint villages, Rioja is home to Mediterranean forests full of wildlife with high mountain areas to explore and stunning lunar landscapes to discover. The region offers a vast range of fun and memorable outdoor activities for all, including mountain horseback riding, 4×4 driving routes and hot-air ballooning across and over the rolling hills. Known as the gastronomic heartland of Spain, Rioja offers guests delicious culinary experiences from pincho tours to haute cuisine, fine dining and everything in between.

Situated in the north of Spain on the banks of the River Ebro, Rioja is surrounded by the majestic Sierra de Cantabria and Sierra de la Demanda Mountain ranges resulting in a breath-taking and picturesque landscape. It is most well-known for its wide variety of grapes, rich soils, climates, and stunning wineries that never cease to amaze visitors. The region spans 65,000 hectares and is home to more than 600 wineries from world-famous, award-winning destinations with avant-garde architecture to small family-run historical establishments. Preserved generation after generation, each one has something unique to offer guests making it the perfect destination to celebrate this year’s World’s Best Vineyards.

The World’s Best Vineyards annual list highlights the top vineyards to visit globally and aims to promote wine tourism around the world. Each year the list showcases unique vineyards with unrivalled visitor experiences, from modern architectural wonders, UNESCO-protected ancient cellars, and Michelin-starred restaurants to family-run wineries with intimate tours. The Voting Academy consists of over 500 leading wine experts, sommeliers and travel experts and they submit their nominations based on the different criteria that make the best destination vineyard, including quality of the overall experience, ambiance, cuisine, activities, views, staff, and value for money. The results are then collated and converted into the annual World’s Best Vineyards list.

Fernando Ezquerro, President of Denominacion de  stats: “It is an honour to host the prestigious World’s Best Vineyards 2023 event and a great opportunity to show the world why Rioja is Spain’s finest wine region. Rioja’s history and traditions have led it to establish itself not only as the leading winemaking region in Spain, but also as the country’s go-to destination for wine tourism, which has had a driving effect on the recovery and diversification of tourism in Spain. Our passion for hospitality and wine making makes Rioja such a special place to visit.”

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Air France announces 17 renowned chefs that will be creating lounge & inflight dining experiences in 2023

To mark Bocuse d’Or 2023, of which Air France is a partner from January 19 – 23,  2023, Air France has unveiled the names the famous chefs they will be working. 17 talented chefs promoting French excellence will take turns to sign exceptional dishes in La Première and Business, and in airport lounges over the next few months. Air France is the only airline to partner with so many distinguished names in the world of cuisine.

Air France is committed to introducing its customers to the quality and diversity of France’s gastronomic heritage, as part of an increasingly responsible approach, by focusing on fresh, seasonal and local produce and a systematic choice of vegetarian dish in all travel cabins.

A high-flying French dining experience

On board long-haul flights from Paris, French Michelin-starred chefs Arnaud Lallement, Régis Marcon, Anne-Sophie Pic, Emmanuel Renaut and Michel Roth will this year take turns to sign exclusive dishes for Air France on the La Première and Business cabin menus. Mauro Colagreco and Thierry Marx will also be contributing their unique skills to this exceptional team of chefs. With vegetarian compositions, red and white meats from France, and fish from sustainable fishing, all the chefs are committed to showcasing the local produce of their regions in France and sharing their culinary heritage and passion.

In the La Première suites, the company’s most exclusive travel cabins, the Meilleur Ouvrier de France pastry chefs Philippe Urraca and for the first time Angelo Musa will bring an elegant and sweet touch to the menus in this cabin worthy of the finest restaurants.

Air France also offer menus signed by top French chefs on long-haul flights departing from airports worldwide and continues to work with the triple Michelin-starred chef Julien Royer in the La Première and Business cabins on departure from Singapore. Originally from Auvergne, Julien Royer is at the helm of the Odette and Claudine restaurants in Singapore. On departure from Reunion Island, in the Business cabin, the menus are signed by chef Jofrane Dailly from Reunion Island, who works at the Diana Dea Lodge in Sainte-Anne. In 2023, Air France will offer menus signed by chef Olivier Perret on flights departing from Air France’s destinations in Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Quebec and Vancouver). He will focus on offering French gastronomy with fresh ingredients for menus in the Business cabin. Originally from Burgundy, the chef also presides at the restaurant Le Renoir at the Sofitel Montréal Le Carré Doré.

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Pays d’Oc Hosts the 2023 Rosé Wine Session of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles

The 2023 Rosé Wine Session of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is due to take place in Montpellier, in the heart of Pays d’Oc.  This year there will be over 50 international judges who will get the opportunity to discover the region’s incredible range of wines, from 8 to 10 March 2023.

For the past 30 years, Pays d’Oc winegrowers have been instrumental in the success of varietal wines and the reputation of this Protected Geographical Indication. To express their creative spirit, they can draw on a vast array of 58 grape varieties and 120,000 hectares of vineyards set between the sea and the mountains, soaking up the multiple influences of a temperate Mediterranean climate. A significant 30% of Pays d’Oc production is now rosé, equating to nearly 300 million bottles of wine annually. This is France’s leading IGP rosé producer region, focusing primarily on the Grenache noir, Cinsault and Syrah grape varieties.

The Pays d’Oc wine region embraces four departments in Languedoc-Roussillon which is part of the broader Occitanie region: Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault, Gard and six localities in southern Lozère. Forming an arch along the Mediterranean, it stretches from the Spanish border to the Rhone delta. Its 120,000 hectares of vineyards are home to myriad landscapes and contrasting weather patterns. The land is shaped in terraces facing the Mediterranean and combines mountains, high-level plateaux, mountain foothills, mid-level plateaux and coastal plains. The climate in Pays d’Oc is Mediterranean, with Atlantic influences to the West and continental influences to the East. Four prevailing winds sweep across the region – the Mistral, Tramontane, Marin and Autan. These weather conditions ensure the vines stay healthy and the fruit ripens naturally. A mosaic of soils – clay-limestone, limestone, gneiss, schist and gravel at the foot of the hills – instils Pays d’Oc wines with their inimitable character.

Varietal Wines

92% of the IGP Pays d’Oc range of wines are single varietals, which means they come from just one grape variety. Varietal wine is the cornerstone of the designation and production specifications feature a whopping 58 different grapes to choose from. The range embraces both world famous ‘star’ grapes like Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Viognier, but also lesser known varieties, some of which have a distinct Mediterranean accent, like Grenache, Rolle, Syrah and Carignan. This extensive array of varieties promotes an endless range of aromatic characters. In terms of output, IGP Pays d’Oc production volumes are consistent from year to year, with each vintage producing between 5.5 and 6 million hectolitres of wine across all three colours.

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Italy’s sparkling wine sector ends 2022 in record volumes

2 billion euros in export value alone illustrate the spumante boom. Markets like Eastern Europe and France are also growing strongly.

According to recent estimates by Unione Italiana Vini (UIV) and the service institute Ismea, Italy’s sparkling wine sector ends 2022 with a production record of 970 mill. bottles. The total business value is 2.85 billion euros, of which the export market alone generates 2 billion euros. The growth of 6% is mainly due to exports (+8%), but the internal market will also close positively (+1%).

In particular, demand in the main markets, the USA, the UK and Germany, is accelerating growth.  However, good results are also achieved in other established places such as Canada, Sweden and Japan, and sales are also increasing in younger markets such as Eastern Europe and France (+25% volume).

The three Prosecco origins DOC, DOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene and DOCG Asolo not only account 70% of  production, they are also the best-selling product in the food sector worldwide. According to the report, their business value is over 1.6 billion euros. Asti DOCG, Trentodoc and Franciacorta were also able to increase sales.

Italy’s sparkling wine production consists of 83% DOP qualities, 6% fall to IGT wines, the rest to sparkling wines without specific indications of origin.

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