The area around Bordeaux is one of France's most distinguished wine regions. Due to an interplay of different factors, Bordeaux's "terroir" is superb for producing red and white wines alike. The factors include the sun, the maritime climate due to the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, the influence from the Pyrenees further south and the huge forests west of Bordeaux.
What, then, could be better than wine tasting in Bordeaux? There are many places to do this, some in the city centre, some further away and very many outside the city in the châteaus producing the wine. We went to a place in Bordeaux called CAFA which is a school for oenologists and offers degustation classes for amateurs as well. A two-hour session run by a professional oenologist will include some theory and the degustation of three wines from the area. Yann, our course instructor, did a very good job and taught us a lot. I can truly recommend this, be it at CAFA or any other place, because more often than not you'll be the one who has to degust the wine in a fine restaurant.
No visit to Bordeaux is complete without a tour to the vineyards. Last year (2005) I joined a day-long tour organized by the Bordeaux tourism office. For the cost of 70 Euro, it was excellent! The name of the tour is called 'Art and Vin'. On that day we visited 3 vineyards on the Left bank. It started at 9AM, there were no more than 15 people signed up for this tour, so there was a lot of room on the coach the size of a Greyhound bus. Our first stop was Chateau d'arsac in Margaux. After a tour of the production facilities, we had a session of winetasting. The guide is very informative and speaks perfect English. Pretty interesting artwork in the compound too. Following a decent lunch in a hotel restaurant by the Garonne River, we continued our wine tasting at Chateau Lynch Bages (Pauillac). Like in the morning, we tried out another bottle of Cab. I really liked this vineyard. But I did not bother to purchase a bottle or two (big mistake!). Our third and last stop is at Chateau Pichon Lalande, another well-known vineyard. By the time the coach took us back to the city, it was well past 6PM. What a day of winetasting. I highly recommend this tour. (It runs from mid-May to September)
It's got to be wine-tasting. The Tourist Office has a regular afternoon session with a talk, sampling of aroma samples and - of course - a tasting of several fine Bordeaux wines with cheese in a nearby resaurant.
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