Wine tasting in Bordeaux
Bordeaux Wine & City
11 - 14 April 2013, 14 - 17 November 2013
Our innovative programme of Wine & City breaks is aimed at the more independent traveller who would also like to spend a couple of days in a party being taken to wine visits in the company of an Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours wine expert with the added advantage that someone else does the driving and navigating for you!
Bordeaux, the seventh largest city in France, is situated in the South West in the Aquitaine region and is the centre of the most renowned wine region in the world. Wine growing around Bordeaux dates from around 37BC with the arrival of the Romans who planted the first vineyards on the gentle slopes to the south of the town. The English too discovered the sea route to Bordeaux early on and the medieval trade in Bordeaux wine was considerable. It was in the 19th century that most of the wine estates and châteaux were established and the first official wine classification, which stands almost unchanged today, came about in 1855.
The city is extremely attractive, with its mainly 19th century buildings and river-front setting. The wine merchants’ old depots line the banks of the Gironde. The mostly pedestrianised old quarter is filled with cafés, brasseries, chic shops, a superb theatre (renowned for its magnificent staircase), a grand cathedral and a tempting indoor market. During recent years the city has undergone a major face-lift. A wonderful new tram system has been installed and the warehouses along the river have been converted into a parade of outlet shops.
We will stay in a central small 3* hotel – in the heart of the main shopping district. You can choose to upgrade to an acclaimed 5*, which is nearby if you prefer a luxury hotel, but still have the benefit of A&C’s excellent Wine and City weekend arrangements. To get to this classic French wine region, you can book your own travel arrangements, or we will be happy to do this for you (being fully bonded with the CAA we can of course book your flights for you), and meet up at the hotel on the first evening. This gives you the freedom to decide how you wish to travel and the length of your trip.
There is a wealth of wine shops nearby and many good restaurants, as on all Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours, we will give you our personal list of our tried and tested suggestions based on over 20 years of visiting this wonderful wine town, which just gets better every time we visit! Using our extensive, well researched list, you’ll have some assistance on hand to make your selection from the superb choice of French dining that Bordeaux offers – from wine bar, to bistro to chic Michelin star – all within easy reach of our chosen accommodation. The evenings are unescorted giving you the freedom to make your own choice of restaurant or bistro.
On the first evening, the Arblaster & Clarke Wine Guide will meet you to host an informative introductory tasting, just as we do on our superb Champagne weekends. Not only is this is an enjoyable way to set the scene wine-wise for the weekend so that you get the very best out of the next few days, it also, of course, gives you a chance to meet both the Wine Guide and the other tour participants.
Next day, you’ll spend a full day wine touring in the Medoc, or what is known as the “Left Bank”, where we will arrange a total of three chateaux visits and tastings, and a private invitation to lunch at one of them. This will typically include visits to a selection of chateaux in the famous Medoc communes of St Estephe, Margaux, Pauillac and Listrac such as Chateaux Lynch-Bages, Beychevelle, Pichon-Longueville, Rauzan-Segla, Rauzan-Gassies, Talbot, Palmer, Angludet and a range of others that we have been visiting since 1989, so we know who to go to and have many good connections built up as a result. We may also select other slightly lesser known medoc chateaux, offering great value wines and perhaps the opportunity to buy direct which is often not the case at the more famous chateaux due to the negociant system.
On your second full day of wine touring, our Wine Guide will take you to several other important Bordeaux wine regions. Our chateaux visits and tastings today may include a visit in the Graves or to Sauternes then we’ll travel across to the “Right Bank” to the St Emilion region, one of its “satellites” or to Pomerol. We usually spend lunchtime in the Right Bank with good friends of ours from Champagne, who own an excellent property in the Cotes de Castillon. Here, the welcome will start with a glass of Champagne and then generous tasting of their great value red wines over a kind invitation to a private home-prepared lunch-time spread. Our final visit of the day is to be another personal welcome from a leading St-Emilion, St-Georges-St-Emilion or Pomerol chateau.
There will also be time for you to stroll around St Emilion too as it would be a shame to miss out on seeing the loveliest wine town of the region, with its medieval cobbled streets, its magnificent monolithic church, wine bars, wine shops and cake shops. Here you can try the other local specialities – macaroons!
The opportunity to have lunch in beautiful wine chateaux in Bordeaux is not only an extremely enjoyable experience, but it is, to our mind, the best way to really appreciate these magnificent wines – with the local food in the place that it was made.This has always been a fundamental requirement to us on an Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tour and indeed we pioneered the idea in many parts of the wine world where this was not previously available. Arranging such invitations as an independent traveller is simply not possible, the Bordeaux wine chateaux are not restaurants open to the casual visitor, so lunching as a private guest at a Bordeaux chateau is a privileged and wonderful experience.
The original Arblaster & Clarke Bordeaux Wine & City Tour gives you a superb overview of the region in a very short space of time. The excellent value of these breaks means that combined with taking advantage of any special travel deals you might find – you still have peace of mind that the actual tour part is put together by a fully bonded, specialist tour operator.