Golf and Wine
No country on earth evokes as much passion and know-how about wine than France. France is well over the twice the size of the United Kingdom and its geography covers pretty much every landscape you can think of…All this means that France can produce a huge variety of grape with no fewer than six distinct red wine regions/grape varieties, four white wine region/grape varieties and two rose region/grape varieties. And the good news for golfers is that every wine region also boasts golf courses so you’re onto a win-win! This section of our website is designed to help the budding wine enthusiast and keen golfer (or vice-versa) to decide where to go to sample their favourite wines and their preferred type and standard of golf course. And in each region, we list our hotels, the best wine chateaux and beautiful wine estates where you can stay.
Sauvignon is a fresh and bold grape, arguably best in young wines. From Orleans down the Loire and then towards Bordeaux before heading inland through Toulouse and even past Nimes into Provence, Sauvignon is probably the most widely-grown grape in France. Tours in the Loire Valley has two good golf courses nearby (Touraine and Ardree), plenty of nearby chateaux and exceptionally smooth (pardon the pun) oeno-tourism opportunities. Bordeaux produces some great Sauvignon and it’s also good some great golf courses such as the 36 holes at Medoc and Grand Saint Emillionais. Chateau des Vigiers is a perfect choice for lovers of wine and golf as it has 27 holes and produces its own wines, including Sauvignon. Languedoc Rousillon has emerged as a high-quality wine region over the last ten years and the hotels have improved too. My favourite golf courses a are Beziers, Nimes Campagne, Pont Royal and La Grande Motte. Chardonnay for many is the king of white grapes. It prefers the northern areas in France and there’s nowhere better than Burgundy and Champagne if you’re a lover of Chardonnay. And there’s good news for golfers as the golf courses have got better. The hotels have always been good as both areas are wealthy but we’ve noticed a lovely crop of innovative new boutique hotels on long-standing wine estates and they really add to the flavour of the holiday. The best courses are Reims Champagne, Troyes La Cordeliere, Dijon-Bourgogne and Macon La Salle but there’s a second level of really enjoyable courses too and Burgundy and Champagne make for a brilliant two-region/multi-hotel tour. Chenin is a quality grape, requiring steady temperatures. Angers, the ancient city near the Atlantic entrance of the Loire river, is best place. Whilst the golf is nice without being sensation, the area is a hidden gem with Angers providing a huge history and good hotels as well as deserved reputation for fine cuisine. Anjou and Angers are both nice parkland courses and you can also easily get to the excellent Sable Solesmes and Bauge Pontigne. To grow Viognier, you need to be stubborn, lucky or very talented. Preferably all three! Best on granite soils, you need to head south of Lyon to the northern tip of Provence. You can play the prestigious 36-hole club of Lyon, the Seve-designed Pont Royal and a couple of nice holiday courses too whilst enjoying the huge scenery and wonderful quality-of-life that most tourists just drive through en-route to the south.
Love it or tolerate it, there’s no escaping the fact that Rose wine has improved immeasurably over the last few years. And there’s no finer wine to accompany your clubhouse lunch in the summer. In fact, I know that several of the more exclusive clubs around Paris vie for having the best summer Rose selection! Real Rose is grown exclusively in the South and there’s a massive choice of beautiful golf courses, some of the world’s most evocative scenery and a splendid variety of accommodations. For sunshine, lazy days sipping the perfect summer tipple and the occasional dip into gorgeous golf, Provence can’t be beaten by anywhere else in the world. Grenache is the more famous grape but Cinsault actually produces the more pink (rose) wines whilst Grenache wines are quite white with a tint of colour. They both taste good and they are both grown from the Spanish border through to the Italian border and also in Corsica. With such a large area, I’ve broken down my favourite courses into four different regions.
- Languedoc: Saint Cyprien, Beziers, Nime Campagne and La Grande Motte
- Provence: Pont Royal, Fregate, Barbaroux
- Riviera: Terre Blanche, Taulane, Royal Mougins
- Corscia: Sperone, Murtoli
- That’s 12 superb courses and there’s a dozen more worth playing.
Pinot Noir is a strong grape favouring medium altitude. You’ll find it towards Geneva so that means Divonne and Evian are your best golf destinations and the lakes and spectacular mountain scenery are a marvellous bonus. Gamay is a brilliant red wine grape and grows to the north of Lyon and on the fringes of Burgundy. Bresse, Macon La Salle and Gouverneur are the courses to play. The area is also regarded as the heart of French cuisine so you’re in for a treat. The rich, fruit Merlot favours the geography of south-west France so you’re in for a treat for all of your senses, The best golf courses are Medoc, Grand Saint Emillionais and we also like Margaux thanks to its proximity to the famous vineyards of the same name. Malbec, another rich and deep-tasting grape, is found in the same area so red wine lovers are looking good. In fact, they’re looking good three times over as the last, but not least, grape of this fabulous wine region is the Cabernet-Sauvignon. Syrah is a relatively sweet red wine grape and is also used in Rose wines. From Lyon to all along the south coast of France, you’ll find some good Syrah vineyards. For golf and the best Syrah, it’s best to head to Provence where the top three courses of Fregate, Pont Royal and Barbaroux await.