There’s plenty of regions throughout the French heartland that have wine producing histories older than the nation itself. After all, the region of Champagne is the only place on Earth that can “officially” call its sparkling wines by the same name. When it comes to iconic vintages, however, no part of the planet has more history and diversity than Bordeaux.
If you’re a wine aficionado who wants to indulge in your passion on a French vacation, what should you know about taking a (perhaps lengthy) stop at Bordeaux?
A City Of Good Times
If one city can lay claim to being the party center of France, it’s Bordeaux, where nobody cares to talk about politics and tourists are warmly welcomed into the fold. With something of a mini-rivalry with Paris, this city boasts beautiful architecture like the Grand Theatre, but is more well known for their viticulture than any other quality.
Nevertheless, there’s no reason to pass up historical sites like the Victory Arch, where the Roman Empire conquered and pacified Gaul, or the Abbatiale Saint Croix Church, built during the 100 Years War over half a millenium ago. Those who want an upbeat afternoon can take in a game of football (soccer) between the FC Girondins and their opponent.
After you’re done sightseeing in the town, it’s time to get down to business and give your palate a lesson it’ll never forget. Bordeaux produces 800 million bottles of wine per year, a production second only to the California grape fields, with extraordinarily fertile soils that annually produce rich yields of dark and light grapes.
Call ahead for reservations from specific wineries or hop on board a tourist bus that will take you out on a day trip to sample the various vintages. If you happen to be in the city during the summertime, head on down to the Avenue Thiers main street where the annual summer wine fests (usually the last week in July) turn the city into a giant celebration.
Learning About The Grape
Those with an appreciation for the past will be able to learn all about the long history of French wine production at Bordeaux. The city’s Wine Museum represents both a great place to get an introduction to the delicate art of grape cultivation as well as a springboard to sample some of the local favorites.
Stroll on through Bordeaux University and you may see outdoor classes on cultivating, harvesting, and fermenting grapes. Once you think you’re ready to negotiate for a souvenir bottle or just a good red to go with dinner, head over to the Pedestrian Center and Gambetta Square to buy everything from bottles to holders to oxygenators to corks.
Food And Wine
What better way to enjoy your vacation than to pair delicious food with fantastic wines? The cuisine of the city is considered world-class, with restaurants like Le Gabriel boasting famous chefs who bring diners fantastic, creative meals. Enjoy dinner and drinks overseeing the La Garonne River at specialty joints like La Cape, but remember to get reservations well ahead of time (a month or more) for the most popular places.
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+DJL Lalique is the forum of David Weinstein a wine connoisseur and buyer and seller of Rene Lalique artwork. Learn more at his website: www.djllalique.com.