Mark and I headed to Bordeaux, France to check out a new city and enjoy some wine-tasting over Easter weekend! We arrived on Thursday afternoon and spent the rest of the day and Friday exploring Bordeaux.   The city, situated on the River Garonne, has some beautiful architecture as well as a great pedestrian area to wander around.
On Saturday, we took a guided day-trip to the Medoc wine region.
    Our driver and guide, Isabel, took us and the two other couples with us on a drive past some of the beautiful vineyards on the "Chateaux Road." Our first stop was at La Winery, a wine-shop just outside the city that provides wine-tastings. We sat down for a sample of five wines from around the region. We hopped back in the van and continued on to the town of Pauillac on the river to have some lunch. Then it was time to check out a couple of chateaux. The French word chateaux means castles, but the chateaux in the Bordeaux region are not castles, but the homes and vineyards.

    We learned a lot about wine on this tour, which was fun for us novices! Emperor Napolean III requested a wine classification during his reign, which led to the creation of the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. This classification ranked wines in importance from 1st to 5th crus (growths). The Medoc region grows mostly Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and blends with other grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot) to make their wines. Due to the mixture of the grapes, these wines are better when aged for longer periods of times, usually in upwards of 10 years.  

    Our first wine-tasting stop was at Chateau Lynch-Bages in the Pauillac appellation. We took a short tour of the winery and then had two tastings, the first of the higher quality 1st label wine. The second tasting was from the 2nd label, which is the wine which is good, but not as top-quality. Many chateaux put out two labels. We learned that you can usually tell the difference because on the wine labels, the better wine will always be listed under the Chateau's name.  The 2nd-tier wine is usually called a different name.

    Our final wine-tasting of the day was at Chateau Taillan in the Haut-Medoc appellation.  This beautiful estate and vineyard is just 11km outside of Bordeaux and dates from the Middle Ages.

Our second day was a wine tour out to the region of St. Emilion. The medieval village was a delight to wonder around, and the chateaux we visited were fantastic.
We drove out to St. Emilion with the same guide again, Isabel and the two other couples that were on our tour the day before. It was fun to re-join our group as we all got on along really well. Our first wine-tasting was at Chateau Soutard, producer of a Grand Cru Classe wine. The chateau was beautiful, having been renovated in the last couple of years. Our winery guide showed us the vineyard and then we got to check out the fermentation building and the new cellars, both built with beautiful design.  At the end, we were led into the tasting room for three different tastings, two from the first label, and one from the chateau's second label.  We really enjoyed this wine and bought a bottle to take home with us!

The next stop on our tour was in the village of St. Emilion. Our guide gave us some history about the town, as well as introduction to St. Emilion's famous macarons, a delicious cookie that comes from this area of Bordeaux.  After some quick instructions about where to eat and our meet-up point later in the afternoon, our group went to grab lunch at a cafe in one of the main squares.  After lunch, we picked up a couple of boxes of macarons...we couldn't leave without those!  Then it was time to meet up with everyone for another wine-tasting at a wine-merchant in the village.  We tasted five different wines from the St.Emilion region and enjoyed hearing about the different vineyards from our tasting leader and wine merchant.

Our final afternoon stop was at Chateau Laniote just outside the village of St.Emilion. A small, family-run estate, we were thoroughly entertained by the owner, a very charis. We first watched a video about the wine-making process and took a short tour of the fermentation and aging cellars. We ended our visit with a wine-tasting. It was great to see the differences between large and small estates. It gave us an appreciation for how much work it takes to run a vineyard, especially for a smaller estate where the family does all of the work.

We had a fantastic wine weekend in Bordeaux! We enjoyed lots of great French food and learned a lot about French wines! I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!
4/18/2012 09:44:17 pm

I have been wanting to do a trip like this. How did you find your wine tour guide? Would you use them again? I also want to do a tour like this thru the Champagne region!

Vanessa Langer
4/19/2012 05:01:28 am

Hey Cathy! We booked our day tours through a company called Viator. They do excursions all over the world.
We had a good experience and I would recommend them. It takes all the hassle out of driving and planning the visits for the tastings. I would also recommend the "small group" tours which we did. One day we had 6 people in our group and the next day we had 8. We had the same guide both days. She is a local from Bordeaux and very knowledgeable about the region and the vineyards.

A Champagne tour is also high on my list! :)

9/15/2016 11:07:11 am

HI Cathy,

I am planning on going to Bordeaux next Easter. Was everything open and running on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday? Thanks


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