Since last summer, when I finished my studies at CAFA Sommelier School of Bordeaux, I became curious about going to visit Bordeaux. It sounds like a natural goal to have after becoming a sommelier, right? So I asked our teacher, Rosanna, for advice on places to go and then set my expectations to low so as not to be disappointed. To my surprise Bordeaux impressed me greatly from the start. I entered the city in the best way possible, by sea, from the Atlantic Ocean into the Gironde River and then the Garonne River. What first impressed me was the tide fluctuations of the river. It goes up and down everyday with ease. Then the bridges we passed under were incredibly modern. There was one that lifts up horizontally as the ship goes by, incredible! As we approached the city, we could see the modern building for The City of Wine Museum (La Cite du Vin) and then downtown Bordeaux. The Palais de la Bourse and its fountain was our gateway to the best streets in town full of cozy cafes and restaurants. We set out to reach Rue Sainte Catherine and on the way we found many beautiful plazas, classic architecture, many antique shops, ancient gates (Grosse Cloche is one of the best). Of course, stopping along the way to taste great wine at every chance. The one I enjoyed the most was a bottle from Chateau Moulin Riche from St Julien 2011.
Some simple facts about Bordeaux, just for fun:
- The most important French wine region. The region has one river (GIRONDE) that divides into two: Garonne to the left and Dordogne to the right.
- Produces 12% of the Premium wines of the World.
- Almost all wines are blends of various grapes:
- Red grapes used in blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenere.
- White grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, SemillonThe wine regions are called AOC (Appellation de Origin Controlee).
- There are thousands of Chateaux (winery). The top 5 chateaux designated since 1855 classification are in the left bank: Chateau Margaux in Margaux, Latour, Lafitte and Mouton Rothchild in Paulliac, Haute Brion in Graves.
- The rivers bring rocks, gravel and other types of soil to the river banks. These soils, together with the Pyrenees mountain topography and the maritime continental climate, form what is called TERROIR.
- LEFT BANK of the Garonne: The city of Bordeaux is located here. Soil is mostly gravel and the climate is a little less cold and favors Cabernet Sauvignon.
- RIGHT BANK: Soil is more clay and it gets more humid and cold so it favors Merlot as the principal grape in the blend.