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Bordeaux, France: Winery Tour

This past summer, we had the pleasure of drinking our way around one of the best wine regions in the world. The city of Bordeaux is located On the southern west coast of France, a beautiful area full of wineries and châteaux. When speaking about the area surrounding Bordeaux, it's important to know that it is split into two main regions: the left bank and the right bank. We decided to split our touring into two days. The first day, taking a private driving tour through Médoc. The second day, we opted to bike around the absolutely stunning town of Saint-Émilion, where we explored the smaller vineyards and met more local growers...

Day 1: Left Bank by Car

On Day 1, we chose an excellent guide that I would recommend to anyone touring the Bordeaux area. The company Bordeaux à la Carte is personally run by Stephan Soutre, a knowledgable sommelier that is born and raised in the area. He is full of knowledge and charm, and he can take you to a variety of regions (driving, making restaurant reservations, and teaching you the history of the area).

The left bank is full of huge châteaux, hundreds of acres in size with stunning homes / buildings and enormous cellars. Exactly what you might imagine when arriving to Bordeaux. All the way up the left bank you’ll find a variety of different regions, including Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, etc. On the left bank, you can expect about 60% cabernet primary blends, and 40% merlot primary blends. This is also where you will find the classic Grand Cru rankings of first growth, second growth, etc, that was established long ago and ranks the châteaux. The original 5 first growth châteaux you may find more familiar, but the whole left bank is full of delicious château options.

We visited Château Lynch-Bages, Château Gruaud-Larose, and Château Lascombes, which were all phenomenal!

Day 2: Right Bank by Bike

On Day 2, we took an excellent electric bike tour starting in Saint-Émilion and exploring the region. Saint-Émilion is considered one of the cutest small towns in all of France, I may even decide to stay a night next time I visit the region. It’s absolutely stunning. Leaving the main Saint-Émilion streets, we quickly found ourselves biking along country roads through the vineyards. Heaven.

On the Right Bank, you won’t find Grand Crus, but rather smaller châteaux that are family owned and cared for. Our guide let us know that most right bank châteaux are about 70 acres or less, which compared to the left bank châteaux feels like a small garden. That said, any location can be labeled/called a “château” as long as they are growing on their own property. Here, the blends are generally the exact opposite of the left bank: 40% cabernet, 60% merlot. Another important factor is that much of the soil is limestone, greatly affecting the grapes and how they grow. We visited wineries Arbo and Château Bernateau, and then finished at a wine shop in town where we had the opportunity to taste a wide variety from various châteaux in the area. We even ordered a case to be sent home with some of our favorite bottles! I highly recommend taking a gorgeous bike tour of the area, trust me, the electric bikes make a huge difference! Hardly felt like work, and we got to enjoy the summer rolling vineyards with the wind in our hair.

Day 3: Day in Bordeaux by Foot

As a bonus, I obviously wanted to recommend some spots as you explore around the main city of Bordeaux. It was so fun to get lost in the old city streets of this classic French town. You absolutely have to stop and try canales, a famous dessert in Bordeaux, at Le Toque Cuivrée.

A famous local story is that canales, a dense sweet dessert, was made because of the large amounts of egg yolks they had on the area. Why? Well, egg whites are traditionally used in the wine making process to break down the enzymes and release more flavor. Can you imagine how may eggs had to be used to create any dent in those huge grape vats? Well, a lot. So what to do with all the extra unused egg yoke? Make delicious, sweet canales, of course.

After exploring the city streets, we also enjoyed some amazing restaurants during our stay. Notably, Symbiose, an amazing Restaurant built in an old cellar with smaller plates and great drinks. And actually just next door, Pastel. Pastel was amazing too, and had the option of a delicious and affordable tasting menu. Farther into city center we were also recommended La Brasserie Bordelaise, which had some great steak dishes, lamb, foie gras, and more. When in Bordeaux, another must in some delicious seafood. You’re right on the coast, make sure to grab some fresh oysters!

Planning to eat around France?



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