Stunning clear blue skies that warmly welcome you into the refined Bordeaux. An elegant French region filled with enchanting châteaux that seem taken out of a princess fairytale under the sunny sky, surrounded by carefully designed gardens that display satisfying clean lines everywhere. A place where vast and fruitful vineyards show off their exquisite grapes so you get the chance to see and learn about the colorful and juicy berries that made the best wine you will ever taste.
Bordeaux is the cultural home of French wine and many of the best brands in the world, like Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Margaux. When you want to experience the complexity of wine-making and sampling, Bordeaux is definitely the place to go. There are many different choices you can take to explore the region and its vineyards, but the most remarkable and recommended one is to dive into the luxury of staying in an elegant château and experience true wine-tasting guided by a wine expert.
A perfect alchemy
Bordeaux holds ranks of vines that seem to extend over the horizon, and the variety of altitudes and lands gives the region its unbreakable viniculture reputation. This south-west French region has been producing wine for around two thousand years, businesses going from generation to generation, and with all these years of experience, local people know the mildest differences one plot of gravel has from another made of sand or clay, and this sharp eye for details mixed with the near-magical procedure applied by the wine-makers at the châteaux add up to create the perfect variety of white, red and dessert wine.
Bordeaux holds 57 wine districts between its borders, but some would say the most popular are Saint-Émilion, Médoc and, surely, Margaux, its highlight being the ancient and elegant château, with its façade caged by pillars and its worldwide known red wines.
Bordeaux’s hidden charms
But besides these hotspots, there are over 7,000 châteaux producing wine in Bordeaux, so don’t pass over the lesser-known ones without paying them a well-deserved visit. Head to the west bank of the Gironde estuary, where Saint-Julien-Beychevelle holds the charming Château Léoville Barton, and to the east, the Château Gazin in the Pomerol district should not be ignored. Taking a ferry from Blaye is the best option to cross the mild waters of the estuary from east to west. Look over along the shore and spot stocks of traditional fishing huts, its wooden walls decorated with unique circular nets.
Even though you can get excellent white wines made in Bordeaux, the region is especially known for its red wines. For these wines, the generally grown grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon for its tannin, and Merlot for its softness. Wines produced in the Médoc district have been ranked on the Classification of 1855 with Grand Cru, pointing out their high quality, besides Cru Bourgeois and Cru Artisan.
Some excellent vintages can cost thousands of pounds a bottle, like 1961, whereas lesser years can be purchased for just a fraction of that price.
All about tasting
If you’re not familiar with the art of wine-tasting, it can be an intimidating and even confusing process for you, so we suggest you take the guidance of a wine expert. Comprehending the importance of the wine’s color, fragrance and taste helps, and while style and skill count for everything when it comes to tasting it, personal opinion itself counts a lot. Tilt your glass and look at the liquid, focusing on its color; swirl it around, getting more oxygen into your wine, releasing its aroma; smell the wine, preparing yourself for its taste; and finally, take a sip and let it rest in your mouth, letting your taste buds soak in the flavor.
Once you get the full wine-tasting experience, head to some of the châteaux that operate as public hotels, like the Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, overlooking the Gironde estuary in the Pauillac district. Spend your evening dining, where wine cannot be missing from the table, and stay the night on the majestic château. Both during the day, under the sunlight, and at night, when it’s artificially illuminated, the twin-towered façade reflected in a perfectly mirroring pond, surrounded by verdant and flawlessly cut grass, add up to grant you a magnificent and unforgettable sight.
A high-course meal is the best opportunity to test your newly found knowledge, and no matter the label, every drop of every wine displays the incomparable quality of the Bordeaux region, and the passion for wine its people hold close to heart.
Things you should know
Checking the opening times and information of the different châteaux at Bordeaux beforehand is important, as some châteaux don’t offer accommodation or tours of their wine-making facilities. The British tour company ‘Arblaster & Clarke’ grants tour, led by wine-experts, including a stay at some private château like the aforementioned Château Pichon-Longueville Baron. The international airport at Bordeaux is only a short drive away from the wine-growing areas.
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