Jean-Noel Fourmeaux du Sartel  is the man behind Napa’s VGS Chateau Potelle. We love their hand-crafted wines as much as we love the name (VGS, as it happens, stands for Very Good Shit). Jean-Noel is from Bordeaux and returns at least a half dozen times a year. Every other year, he takes one or two extremely lucky groups with him. Each exclusive—and very fun—tour produces raves from those who sign up, as in:  “This is really the most incredibly well organized and over-the-top trip you’ll ever go on.” Or:  “Jean-Noel exposed us to Bordeaux in a way we could never have experienced. Chateau doors were flung wide open, the wines were stunning, the food was decadent. It will forever remain one of the greatest travel experiences of our lives.”

This year’s trip for ten couples has only a couple of slots left and promises to be equally “over the top.” It starts at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, the vineyard owned by Jean-Noel’s good friends Florence and Daniel Cathiard. Guests will stay at Les Sources de Caudalie, the 5-star hotel and spa created by the Cathiard’s daughter, Alice, on the property. The hotel’s spa, Caudalie Vinotherapy, specializes in products made from grape seeds, and is the perfect place to recover from the hangovers Jean-Noel warns might ensue. We love the sound of the “body envelope of honey and wine.”

The rest of the week is one splendid location, tasting, and lunch and dinner after another. Among the chateaus visited will be Cheval Blanc, Mouton Rothschild, Pichon-Longueville, and Leoville Poyferre (where a 6-liter bottle of Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2001 will welcome the group). Each stop features sumptuous meals (with the menus carefully chosen by Jean-Noel) and conversations with sought-after winemakers.  Visit VGS Chateau Potelle for the full itinerary, but the trip– as well as Jean-Noel’s notable generosity of spirit and charming company– is clearly not to be missed.

Pictured above, clockwise from left:

Chateau Leoville Poyferre; the impressive façade of Chateau Branaire Ducru; a view of Chateau Pichon Lalande from the courtyard.


Shop VGS Chateau Potelle on TAIGAN.


About Julia Reed

Julia Reed is a columnist at Garden & Gun magazine and a contributing editor at Elle Décor. She also contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times, and makes frequent appearances on MSNBC. She is the author of five books, including But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria, Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry and One Man’s Folly, The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood.

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