Birgit has developed an interest in the wine world from a young age, while visiting local wine shops and merchants with her father. Wandering through the barrels she discovered the magic of wine, oak, cork, candles and good company. By the time she was twelve she knew she wanted to complete a tourism and hospitality degree, which she achieved at the Hotelschool in the Hague, Netherlands. Over the years, Birgit has gained a tremendous experience working in restaurants and kitchens in the Netherlands, Switzerland and France and via a management traineeship in New York. Wine always remained a passion and Birgit also achieved a certificate from the Wine Academy in the Netherlands and became a Vinologue.
Since 1998, Birgit lives in the beautiful South-West part of France, where she came under the spell of the passion and history of the winemakers in the Lot Valley. She learned all about Cahors as a cradle of Malbec wines, the origin of all Malbecs over the world. Since 2007 Birgit has become a tour guide offering guided wine tours, wine workshops and custom made trips to make tourists familiar with the regional Cahors-wines and culinary specialities. You can find Birgit’s top quality wine tours on our website!
Interview with Birgit
When did you discover your passion for wine?
I discovered my passion for wine when I was about twelve years old. My father used to take me to a wine merchant regularly on Saturdays and I was enchanted by the smell of the wines, the oak barrels, the cork, by the mystery of the vaulted candle-lit cellars and by the laughter coming from the people that were tasting.
What are your key highlights of the Cahors wine region?
If you manage to catch the feeling that here in the Lot region all good things together form the perfect combination, then I think you have captured all the highlights. With all good things I mean the unforgiving soil, the mild yet unpredictable climate, the Malbec grapes, the people and their history and finally the combination of Malbec wines with local food. You can sense it when you are standing in a vineyard and smell the soil, look at the beautiful surrounding landscape of river, terrace, steep hills, forest and chateaux. Or when you enjoy a dinner ‘al fresco’ in some historic village or in the medieval part of Cahors.
When are the best times to visit Cahors?
I would say in spring or in autumn. Spring because of the awakening nature and the pleasant temperatures. Autumn because of the wonderful colours and the harvest that causes a vibrant tension everywhere.
Do you have a personal favourite winery in the region and if so why?
My personal favourite winery is Clos de Gamot. For me this winery is the embodyment of the story of Cahors wine, because Jean Jouffreau saved the Malbec generations ago from the devastating phyloxera. At Clos de Gamot some plants from before this disaster are still treasured, a vineyard of over 120 years old which still produces wines in good years. I especially like the most kind and hardworking people that run the property today, Mr and Mrs Hermann-Jouffreau.
What is a traditional local wine and food pairing dish?
From a simple Cassoulet (local dish with beans, duck confit and sausage) to a distinguished Magret (duck breast), you will find that Cahors wine is combining perfectly with duck. The more refined the dish, the more refined the wine you serve with it, of course.
Finally, which wine region in the world would you like to visit next?
I would like to visit Napa Valley, because I think it will be a huge contrast as compared to Cahors. Californian wines are different in every way, I suppose, from the size of the wineries, the size of the vineyards to the history behind the wineproducing companies. It must affect the taste and the feeling when drinking a glass of wine. I am going to find out soon!