Ah, Bordeaux...you're one of several meccas for wine lovers and you did not disappoint. Two-thirds of the reason I booked a flight to Toulouse, aside from the low cost, was to go on a wine tasting tour with Bordovino in nearby Bordeaux. Bordeaux is one of the most famous and oldest wine-growing regions in the world and is full of delicious wine and gorgeous tasting rooms usually set in some magnificent castle or chateau. Early Sunday morning, I hopped on a train that passed through the French countryside and adorable old farmhouses and churches, which made the early start time worth it. After a yummy lunch at Comptoir of crab ravioli with green apple and wasabi cream and wild prawns with shitaki mushrooms and asparagus, it was time to meet up with my fellow wine lovers to head off on the tour.
First stop was Chateau Soutard, which is one of the oldest estates in the area dating back to 1513. The winery produces four varieties that are hand-picked by about 70 people. I learned that rose bushes are planted and used as a warning system for any potentially harmful diseases to the grapes as attacking insects will start there first. Also, I learned that one barrel produces 300 bottles...a fact that somehow escaped me during all of my years living near Napa and Sonoma.
The warning system
We wrapped up the tour of the estate and headed off to taste wine using this handy dandy wheel 'o wine cheat sheet, which confounds me as I am still not very good yet at distinguishing the nuances of wine's taste, smell, appearance, etc. I just know that I like to drink it!
Next stop was the quintessential French village of St. Emilion...founded in the 8th century by a monk from Brittany. If ever there was a storybook version of a French village filled with wine, this was it. We had a bit of free time to wander aimlessly around the village, taking in the sights and enjoying some ice cream on a day that was incredibly hot.
I could not stop taking pictures of literally everything
Topping St. Emilion would be difficult, but the next stop at Chateau Cote de Baleau proved a tough competitor. It's a winery that had been in the same family from 1643 up until 2013 when it was sold off due to a hefty inheritance tax. The entrance and tasting room was one of the grandest I've seen and I was ready to move in and never leave.
Not exactly my decor of choice
During the tasting, I learned more about the French classification system for wineries, which includes three classification levels ranging from A-C, with A being the best.
Some fine French bread, cheese and meat
After a day of wine tasting, I headed back to the city center in search of a substantive meal to soak up all of the wine. I stumbled onto A Cantina, a Corsican restaurant with a funky decor. I enjoyed a delicious meal of zucchini beignets (a bit of New Orleans in France), a fish dish and chestnut cake. By then, it was time to head back to the train...which I almost missed due to my terrible, non-existent French and a painfully slow cab driver. But, I made it onto the train back to Toulouse (after stopping to dote on an adorable French Bulldog puppy!) wrapping up a stellar day of wine tasting in southern France.
If you're ever in Bordeaux, I highly recommend taking a tour with Bordovino...the guides are fun and engaging and they offer an excellent overview of the region. Next up is a recap of my trip to Nerja in southern Spain...the pronunciation of which my Spanish friends still do not understand when I say the word Nerja.