Wine Tasting, Bordeaux
One of the highlights of me coming here since 1990 is to get to the many chateaux in person to buy direct the wonderful wines. It beats all expériences, and I have done them all.
The so call Bordeaux wine area is vast and it encompass the lands outside the city but since it is so popular attach to the city I am putting the tip here.
To me Bordeaux means Médoc, a special area in a peninsula between the Atlantic ocean and the Gironde river. The route D2 takes you to all the main properties .
It is all done since 1949 around the Commanderie du Bontemps a sort of brotherhood association encompasses the three main wine activities of the growers, the brokers and the merchants, and draws upon their respective knowledge and talents. As well as the main areas of wines such as Médoc and Graves - Sauternes and Barsac.
The area grew from there tremendously to become the first region of wine in the world , and from which all others try to imitate , copy or claim outrageous performances. If you noticed, they all use the same principals from the Médoc, tha borrowed barrels, and methods, the expertise of the local growers and the grapes such the varieties that made this region famous from the 18C, growers started talking of “Petite Vidure”, Cabernet Franc; “Grosse Vidure”¸ Cabernet Sauvignon; Carmenère, Malbec and various varieties of Verdot. Merlot was a latecomer and it was not until the middle of the 19C that it made a name for itself.
The areas to share this Bounty are on the left bank, the 8 Médoc appellations, which include the 2 sub-regional appellations (Médoc and Haut-Médoc) and the 6 communal appellations (Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Moulis en Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, and Margaux). The AOC designation that crown these wonderful regional mapping is strictly enforce as it is a National treasure of France. Any grower claiming an AOC undertakes to observe the joint operational rules laid down by the Defence and Management Organisation (DMO) and drawn up in accordance with the legal texts. Starting in 2008, in the interests of optimal quality, growers and merchants will be authorised to bottle their wine under a given AOC only if they comply strictly with the specifications drawn up by the DMO (formerly the wine Syndicate) for the AOC in question. An agency independent of the DMO will verify compliance with the specifications and will ensure, through random inspections in both cellars and vineyards, that the production conditions have been met. This independent agency will also analyse samples of wine taken at the time of bottling (with 6 bottles per sample and as many samples as there are types or brands) and will subsequently organise tasting sessions in order to accept, adjourn or refuse the wines depending on their visual, olfactory and tasting qualities.
These strict rules are laydown on designation of the bottle into 5 classes such as the Grands Crus Classés in 1855, the Crus Bourgeois, the Crus Artisans, the other crus and the wines from the Cooperatives.
The official site in contact is in English will give you more, but the different organisation for further information are here
right in the city of Bordeaux you have an address to get you started even before stepping into the Médoc, here
Conseil des Vins du Médoc
1, cours du XXX juillet - 33000 Bordeaux
Tél. 33 (0)188.8.131.52.62 - Fax 33 (0)184.108.40.206.05
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Each region has a maison du vin, showcasing the wines from its region or AOC area, and these are here
And the main cities in the region with city hall./Council information is here
Some of the properties feature on this tip can be read further on them here
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.