It's Never Your Last Glass In Bordeaux

22 March 2015

Why do I return so often to Bordeaux in France? It’s the only wine region I visit not just once but often twice every year.

This isn’t just because I love to get lost in the southern suburbs (it happens every time) looking for Chateau Haut-Brion; to head north up the back roads, into the Medoc, ticking off chateaux and playing their tastes in my memory, as I go; to drive across the Pont d’Aquitaine, the majestic suspension bridge that links the two sides of the glittering Garonne; and to squeeze into a table at L’Envers du Decor in St Emilion for a quick lunch of rich onion soup between tastings.

 Looking across the Garonne at the town of Bordeaux. Picture: Getty Images

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Finer Points

It’s also because, although I drink wine from all over the world, Bordeaux is still a major reference point. Its reds from the Medoc, like hymns with their steady meter, structure and ability to age with such distinction, quite simply set the bar for cabernet sauvignon-based blends. The plusher wines, rich in merlot and cabernet franc, from the right bank show that this old wine-producing region can still set contemporary trends.

 Reds from the Medoc set the bar. Picture: Getty Images

Bordeaux can also be sweet; as the exquisite wines of Sauternes demonstrate. As well as dry and white: the sauvignon and semillon barrel-fermented wines that smell of the pine forests you find as you head towards the sea, are oddly under-appreciated.

And then there’s the money. Whatever you think about the arcane way in which unfinished wines are sold en primeur, from barrel, or the astronomical price increases of the past decade or so, it’s still Bordeaux that drives wine investment markets and Bordeaux that is traded more than wine from any other region or country.

My top tips

  • Visit the First Growth Chateau Lafite Rothschild, one of the region's grandest addresses.
  • Take a walk through the vineyards.
  • Taste test some of the thousands of producers who are less well known than the few who command top dollar.
  • Take in the Rapunzel towers (and truly glorious wines) of Pichon Baron; Angelus and Canon la Gaffeliere in St Emilion; and Hannibal Lecter’s beloved Chateau d’Yquem.
  • Wander through the city of Bordeaux itself.
 Vineyards draw the eye to the Chateau d'Yquem. Picture: Getty Images

 

This article was written by Victoria Moore from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Victoria Moore

Victoria Moore has been writing about wine and all other kinds of drinks since 1998 and joined the Telegraph as wine correspondent in October 2010. She's the author of How to Drink (Granta), writes a monthly wine column for BBC Olive Magazine and as well as being partial to a well-made G and T takes a special interest in Italian wine.