When talking about the wines of France, the discussion has to include Bordeaux, and not just because it’s the largest wine-producing region in the country. From the historic city of Bordeaux, with interesting connections to the French Revolution, to the countryside with vineyards as far as the eye can see, the area is at once fascinating as well as delicious… perfect for a visit by the traveling wine aficionado and culinary traveler. Come this June, there will be another reason to visit, as the highly anticipated La Cite du Vin will be opening.
Another lovely vision: the countryside. I was simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of vineyards — which are spread out over more than 120,000 hectares — and what’s even more astounding is all the different wines they produce under the Bordeaux appellation, including merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. As one chateau owner said as we tried her wines, “A fine wine blend is like a marriage… better together than separate.”
With such an expansive area too, the terroir of the region changes. The wines you’ll find in St. Emilion, for one, are quite different than the wines you’ll try in the Medoc region of Bordeaux. In St. Emilion, travel the medieval town’s cobblestone streets, visit the church (which is largely underground), and of course enjoy a wine tasting and tour to see so much of what the charming town and countryside — the vineyards of which date back to the times of the Romans — have to offer.
Over in the Medoc region to the north and west of the city of Bordeaux, travel down the wine route, also known as the route des chateaux, where so many of the region’s 7,000+ chateaux are located. Many of these chateaux too are 1855 classified growths! Each chateau offers its own wine, its own history, and own style, but entry into them can be exclusive, which is why it helps to work with a tour operator like The International Kitchen to get you into some of these historic estates.
And after my visit and tour of the area? I’ve realized just how immense the offerings of this beautiful region really are.
By Liz Hall
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