Around the world in 80 vineyards

Six months after setting out on a tour of some of the world's greatest vineyards, Frenchman Nicolas Beausset has collected 500 bottles of top quality wine and is still thirsty for more.

by: Gideon Long | 26 Jul 2007

Beausset and his colleague Geraldine Reinhold Von Essen are attempting to travel "around the world in 80 vineyards".

They are asking wine producers from Chianti to California to give them their best wine for free. When they get back to Spain, where they are based, they will auction it for charity.

So far, their journey has taken them to South Africa, Thailand, China, Australia, New Zealand and Chile. They will visit Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and the United States before returning to Europe to tour the vineyards of Portugal, Spain, Italy and France.

As they travel, they are sending their liquid booty back to Spain where it will be stored in a cellar until the auction in Barcelona in early 2008.

Their journey has yielded some fine donations, including a magnum of Pinot Noir from New Zealand's Staete Landt vineyard, one of only 30 such bottles in the world.

But perhaps the most fascinating leg of their journey took them to the vineyards of Thailand and China, countries little known in the West for their wines.

"In China, viniculture is growing quickly ... some of the vineyards are very good," said Beausset, who runs a wine import-export business in Barcelona.

In Thailand, the couple visited so-called "floating vineyards" where the vines are planted on banks of earth separated by narrow canals.

"They get two harvests a year due to the climate and they pass between the vines in boats to collect the grapes," Beausset said, adding that most Thai wine was white and designed to compliment the nation's spicy food.

"In China it was total chaos," Beausset said. "We couldn't drive there because we couldn't read the signs."

The couple say they have no idea how much money they will raise for their chosen charity, Action Against Hunger.

"We just want to raise as much as possible," Beausset said.

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