Aaaah Bordeaux……! Le vin…. le fromage…. uuuuh c’est trés bon!
I started my trip through the wines of Bordeaux on a winter morning, having breakfast at Café Lavinal at Village of Bages. This little town is no more than a lovely and pleasant courtyard with a cafe, a wine shop and grocery shop, all belonging to the Château Lynch-Bages.
On the wall outside the coffee shop there was a panel of tiles saying “Le vin est la plus saine et la plus hygiénique des boissons” (Pasteur 1866) and it could not be more appropriate!
Just across the square, I visited the Château Lynch-Bages, one of the châteaux that obtained the denomination Gran Cru Classé, attributed in 1855 to the best and most valuable wines of Bordeaux. This cellar produces wine since 1749 and you can still see some of the first wood barrels to use the gravitational technique.
I got a little bit lost on my way to the winery and when I finally arrived there was the guide alone waiting for me. Naively, I was relieved that I was not the last visitor to show up and I asked him how many of us would it be. He explained that I was the only visitor at that time. And so I realized that wine tourism in Bordeaux is different, very personalized and not made for large groups, which made me feel quite special!
Another Gran Cru Classé that must be part of any wine tour in the region is Château Margaux (Margaux). Although most cellars use the name châteaux, very few actually have such a dwelling in the estate. Margaux however, has its own châteaux, built over 200 years ago, the trademark of the business, and depicted on the labels of the wine bottles.
For those who can’t afford to stay in the region for long, I recommend a trip to Château Haut-Brion (Graves), the Gran Cru Classé closest to town. It has its own cooperage, like some French châteaux still have, where I could witness the making of the traditional oak barrel. A loud but very worthwhile experience!
Bordeaux is a city that breathes wine. But if you take a deep breath, you’ll smell some cheese as well! If you decide to visit Bordeaux a trip to Fromagerie Jean D’Alos is mandatory.
An endless array of cheese! All smells, shapes and sizes, all lusciously looking! Talking about food and must-go places, across the river Garonne is Saint-Emillion, a medieval town that is not only World Heritage Site, but also famous for the invention of the macaroons!
I said goodbye to Bordeaux in the best way possible: with a trip to Château Lafite-Rothschild. Together with an Italian couple, I followed the tour guide and entered the mouldy and clammy cellars where the wine is stored, in bottles dating from 1797.
The opening of the Château Lafite-Rothschild 2001 (yes, a 900€ bottle was open on that moment for only 4 people to taste!) took place in the barrels’ room – a round room, recalling an arena, with the perfect acoustics for unique concerts. This time however, the four of us candlelit, silence involved the clink of our glasses and the wonderful wine tasting experience!