Best Belgian Wines - Wijnkasteel Vandeurzen (Flanders - Belgium)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali
  
Belgium is known for its beer, but wine? Well, if you think about it - Belgium & France are neighbours and the climate conditions are not too different. So it shouldn't too surprising to understand that Belgian wine is a thing! 

Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel Best Belgian Wines


Chardonnay grapes vineyard walking trail flemish brabant

Linden vineyards

Best Belgian wines Albarino Tempranillo

Best Belgian Wines Vandeurzen Pure White Albarino

The control for the manufacture, quality & certification of wines in Belgium is similar to that of France. One of the 5 places of origin for the Belgian wines is Hageland, the eastern part of Flemish Brabant - Hagelandse wijn (Hageland Wine). While most of the wine produced in this region is white wine, red wine and sparkling wine are also produced here. There are quite a few vineyards in this region. Many can be visited for wine tasting as well as tours. There is a dedicated vineyard walking trail as well as cycling trail. Visiting a vineyard and tasting local wines is one of the top things to do in Flemish Brabant.
Wine cycle route begins at Horst Castle and is 44km long.  Vineyard Walking trail is 7.5km which begins at Wezemaal at the Hageland Wine Visitors' Centre which gives an overview about Hageland wines including a Wijngaardberg region (vineyard hills region). Wine tasting sessions also happen here. Some of the wineries and vineyards in this region include Winery Kluisberg, Winery Petrushoeve, Winery Chartreuzenberg, Winery Vandeurzen and many more.

Hageland Wine Visitors' Centre Location (on Google Maps):Bezoekerscentrum van de Hagelandse wijn
Nearest railway station: Wezemaal
How to reach Hageland Wine Visitors' Centre: Trains run from Leuven to Wezemaal every 20 mins and the journey time is about 7 mins. Bezoekerscentrum van de Hagelandse wijn is located 1.2km from Wezemaal railway station. While it can be walked, one excellent option is to hire a cycle in Leuven and take it by train till Wezemaal and go on the Wine Cycle Route.
Hageland Wine Visitors' Centre Opening Hours: Tue-Fri: 1:00PM to 5:00PM; Sat-Sun: 2:00PM to 6:00PM; Closed on Mondays
Vineyard Walking trail: PDF map of walking trail
Wine Cycle route: PDF map of cycle route

One of the wineries of Flemish Brabant is in Linden and is called the Wijnkasteel Vandeurzen founded by Mr. Urbain Vandeurzen. When he spotted this little, pristine white castle of Linden (Lubbeek) called Castle de Beauffort, he bought it along with the surrounding 11 hectares of land for cultivation.  Linden Castle has its origins from the 12th C CE. However the current structure belongs to 1661 CE. Its renovation with Neo Classic architecture style happened in 1870 CE. He restored the castle and its gardens which covers an area of 40 acres and today it is his private home & office. He wanted to make something here that could employ the locals and thus was born, Wijnkasteel Vandeurzen along with the de Victorie restaurant and wijnbistro in 2013.

Vineyards in Belgium - Hagelandse wijn Linden vineyards

Best Belgian wines Vandeurzen Albarino

Both red wines and white wines are produced here in Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel. One of their major white wines is Chardonnay. It was with Chardonnay grapes that they started cultivation here. Today they have 10,000 Chardonnay plants and normally these full grown plants can produce 1 bottle of wine per plant. 
The unusual thing about Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel is that they cultivate some unusual varieties of grapes that are not cultivated in any other Belgian vineyards thanks to, Mr.Urbain Vandeurzen who is a risk-taker! Looking at the climatic conditions & soil conditions here, he decided to bring unusual grape varieties from elsewhere in Europe, which were traditionally never grown in Belgium. Initially it was seen as a craziness and risk, but now these unusual grape varieties are Vandeurzen's specialty wines!
For eg., GrĂ¼ner Veltliner, a white wine grape variety from Austria, is a specialty here. No one else in Belgium cultivates it. The Veltliner grapes are so luscious that they can produce 3.5 bottles of wine per plant! This is a bit citrusy & spicy.
Another unique variety of grapes cultivated here is the Spanish variety called Albarino used to produce Vandeurzen Pure White Albarino. This has such a thick skin which results in very less flesh, so there is not a lot of juice. Albarino produces just half a bottle of wine per plant making it a super-specialty wines of Belgium and one of the best white wines of Belgium! In the first year of cultivation, with 1700 plants only 20 lt of wine was produced and in the 2nd year, only 199 bottles were produced. In the last couple of years the production has been around 1500-2000 bottles. So you can imagine, how much of a limited edition this automatically becomes! It is indeed one of the most expensive wines of Belgium that costs €25 per bottle! It is a dry wine with a fruity, apple taste. This is the wine that can give Champagne a run for its money! You need to taste it to believe it. No wonder, Vandeurzen Pure White Albarino has been selected as the Best Wine of Belgium for 2 years in a row. 
Their best red wine of Belgium that Vandeurzen manufactures is Pure Red Tempranillo Prestige which is again one of the most expensive wines of Belgium that also costs €25 per bottle. The Tempranillo is also a Spanish grape variety. Tempranillo grapes are big and luscious and each bunch weighs as much as 2 to 2.5kgs!

When the grapes are perfect to be cultivated, very many locals are hired on the job. Ideally the entire harvest must be done within 3 days, otherwise the weather can have effects on the the taste of the wine. Till date hand-picking of the grapes is given preference over machine picking.  Ofcourse the winery is located right here, overlooking the vineyard with both steel & wooden barrels. 

Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel Location (on Google Maps): Vandeurzen Vineyards, Linden Castle, De Victorie restaurant
How to reach Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel5.5km from Leuven. Delijn bus routes 370, 371, 475 and 485 halt at Linden. It is ofcourse possible to hire a bike at Leuven and ride to Linden.
When is the best time to visit? Summer. Harvest happens around late August or early September (depending on the weather). Hageland Wine Festival happens in the end of August.
De Victorie Restaurant Opening Hours: Thu-Sat: 6:00PM to 10:30PM; Sun: 12:00Noon to 3:00PM &  6:00PM to 10:30PM
De Victorie Restaurant / Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel Address: Kerkdreef 1 - B-3210 Linden
De Victorie Restaurant / Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel Phone number: +32 16 88 82 86
Online shop to buy the Belgian wines: Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel 

Places to see in Leuven Arenberg Castle

Places to see in Leuven Abdij van Park Abbey

Places to eat in Leuven Brasserie de Abdijmolen

Places to see near Leuven - Cleerbeek Castle

Places to see near Leuven - Horst Castle

CYCLING IN FLEMISH BRABANT, BELGIUM 

As I mentioned earlier, the node-to-node cycling network, makes cycling in Flanders, a super easy task. On fine day we decided to hire a cycle from Leuven and ride all the way upto Horst Castle via Arenberg Castle, Park Abbey and ofcourse Wijnkasteel Vandeurzen. This 21km (one-way) route follows the nodepoints - 10-74-75-73-11-33-80-5-83-29-99-98-65.
Our first stop was Arenberg Castle and next was Park Abbey. After having some snacks at Brasserie de Abdijmolen we headed to Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel. After that we stopped briefly at Castle of Cleerbeek and finally headed to Horst Castle to spend the evening. It was a long day and a long ride, but totally worth it.
ARENBERG CASTLE has its origins in the 12th C CE. Today, the castle is a part of the Leuven University and used as classrooms! Imagine being able to have your classes in a centuries old historic castle!!!! It is not open for general public to visit, but if you're a friend/family of a student of Leuven University, you might be able to visit.
PARK ABBEY (Abdij van Park) is also in the outskirts of Leuven, just like Arenberg Castle. The history of Park Abbey dates back to 1129 CE. The primary building is ofcourse the abbey which is the St.John the Evangelist's church. Its current structure belongs to the 18th C CE. 
This is a large area that begins with the Lion's Gate built in 1725 CE, which separates the Abbey premises from the city. A short walk is accompanied by Molenbeek, a small channel that leads to the Watermill built in 1534. This houses the Brasserie de Abdijmolen today and it is possible to see the watermill equipment in the middle of the restaurant. Originally wheat, barley, rye etc were ground here for the people of the abbey. Just beside it is St.John's gate aka the Poor Man's gate for it served as the gate where poor people came for bread. Further ahead is the cemetery followed by the church. Behind the church is the actual abbey complete with the cloister, chapter house, refectory etc.
KASTEEL VAN CLEERBEEK (Cleerbeek Castle) is currently a private property. 2 large bedrooms in first floor of the castle and a small wooden cabin in the premises called The Forest could be hired for an overnight stay. It would be awesome to be able to stay in a castle overnight! I need to plan a stay here, for myself, to live like a royal for a day or two.
KASTEEL VAN HORST (Horst Castle) is a part of the Castle Domaine of Horst (like Bokrijk Domaine or Domaine Solvay). The castle was the home to the Lords of Horst who lived here in 13th- 15th C CE. Currently this is under renovation so we couldn't go inside the castle. Anyways, we walked around the domaine a bit, before heading back to Leuven.

Flanders node-to-node cycling network: Fietsroute Planner
Arenberg Castle location (on Google Maps): Arenberg Castle
How to reach Arenberg Castle: 3.5km from Leuven station. Delijn buses (15 mins ride) are regularly available. 
Park Abbey location (on Google Maps): Park Abbey, Brasserie de Abdijmolen
How to reach Park Abbey 3.5km from Leuven station. Delijn buses (15 mins ride) are regularly available. 
Castle van Cleerbeek location (on Google Maps): Castle van Cleerbeek
Overnight stay at Castle van Cleerbeek: Airbnb (here's your €36 off on your first booking)
Castle van Horst location (on Google Maps): Horst Castle
How to reach Castle van Horst: 13.5km from Leuven. Delijn bus route 310 towards Aarschot goes via Horst Castle. It is ofcourse possible to hire a bike at Leuven and follow the node point network mentioned above.

VLOG OF CYCLING IN BELGIUM - FLEMISH BRABANT


Cycling in Flanders Node to node cycling network

Node to node cycling Flemish Brabant

Best Belgian Wine Vandeurzen Pure White Albarino Vineyard walking trail flemish brabant Wijnkasteel Vandeurzen

P.S.1: I was invited by Toerisme Vlaams Brabant (Flemish Brabant Tourism) to experience the region & the activity for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.
P.S.2: Vandeurzen wine is an alcoholic beverage. You must be of legal drinking age to consume it, as stated by your country. Excessive drinking is injurious to health. Drinking & Driving can be fatal.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

9 comments:

  1. We love to go wine tasting when we travel so we would definitely want to try Belgian wines. Since I am not a Chardonnay fan, I would certainly want to try the more rare White Albarino wine. And its taste sounds perfect for me. I am just not sure I would want to do my wine tour by bike. Better to have a tour or driver so I can sample at will!

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  2. Now this has come as a surprise as I used to live and work in Brugge and also Bruxelles and never knew that Belgium had a wine scene going on. I am more of a beer drinker so I know the Belgium beer scene very well. I do drink wine and have been to a few wine tours around the world (mainly in North America and Europe) so if I was back in Belgium then I would give this a go. Be interesting to see what Belgium wine tastes like.

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  3. So interesting, as I don't think I've ever seen Belgian wine sold in any other part of the world. I love to visit vineyards when I travel, and would definitely want to give the Chardonnay a try!

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  4. You're right - most people know Belgium for its beers. I didn't know Belgium also produces wines, but it only makes sense, since it's so close to other wine-producing countries. I would really love to hire a bicycle and do the cycling route. That would be something new for me.

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  5. It would be nice to visit Vandeurzen Wijnkasteel. It is interesting that it makes a difference whether its handpicked or machine picked. I am not an expert on wines or how they cultivate it but this is interesting and hoping to visit someday.

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  6. I am a great fan of Belgian wine and both me and my wife had a great time indulging when we were in Belgium last year. But nothing like a wine tasting trip like this. There is so much I learnt just by reading this post. Would love to do a trip just the way you did.

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  7. Wow as you said I did not know there were Belgian wines. I have been to Belgium once but I did not visit any wineries there. And I have never tasted Belgian wines too, I may try to pick something over this weekend here if I can get a bottle. Thanks for this, I learned something new today.

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  8. I know nothing about wine, but I'm pretty sure I will enjoy the cycling. The area looks really pretty and super clean. It will be fun also to visit the castles and stops at the cafes for some snacks along the way.

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  9. Belgium looks great place for wine lovers and it is good that their wines are equally good as famous French wines. As France and Belgium share border, therefore geographically wine growing areas and produce of grapes much be having similar conditions and taste. It is good that grapes are hand picked instead of machine picked, never knew that this process too changes the taste of wine. Even harvesting the crop in 3 days must be very busy days for wineries. Thanks for all information as I would love to visit this place with nature all around.

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