I had the great opportunity to travel to Bordeaux for the first time this year, at the end of October. I think most of us have this idea of Bordeaux wines being expensive and with reason; most of the wines we see on wine list are, but are mainly Grand Cru Classe (Great Growth) and they only represent less than 5% of the total production in Bordeaux.
The goal of this wonderful trip was for us to discover smaller and lesser known areas of this fabulous wine region as such as Saint Emilion satellites (like Montagne Saint Emilion, Saint Georges Saint Emilion…)
It started with a course at the Bordeaux Wine School for a tutorial covering history, geography, the different varietals and the Controlled Appellation areas.This followed with a walking tour of this amazing city; and a lunch at a local restaurant with a tasting of dry white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
We then drove to Chateau Le Grand Verdus (Bordeaux AC) for a visit and tasting. A beautiful, family owned estate producing exceptional wines around £10.00, their Grande Reserve (best cuvee) is around £15.00. After this interesting discovery we went to Cadillac to an estate owned by a Lebanese family, Chateau Biac. We started with a presentation of the Cotes de Bordeaux AC followed by a sweet wine presentation.
We later went to their cellar and to dinner. Starting with an aperitif and canapés (the highlight being a toast of peanut and dried apricot) on their terrace with a view on the Garonne river and a beautiful sunset. At the dinner we had the chance to taste some incredible wines as well as some lovely food mixing French and Lebanese cuisine.
The next day, we drove to Pomerol to visit one of the greatest estates of the area, Chateau Gazin (one of the first top Bordeaux wines I tasted was Chateau Gazin 1988) where we tasted 2005 and 2011 vintages. We also had the opportunity to see some of the best Chateau like Petrus and Lafleur Petrus.
On the way to Saint Emilion we also saw Evangile, Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Angelus before arriving at Chateau La Couspaude where another surprising tasting awaited us. After a very good lunch there and a quick, but wet visit of Saint Emilion we left for one of its satellites, Puisseguin Saint Emilion.
We arrived at a 55 hectares organic estate called Chateau Guibeau where again the quality was impressive and yet again the prices of wines were around £10 to £12. The rest of the day was spent in Pessac-Leognan, in the Graves region (named after the very gravelly soil of the vineyard) at Chateau La Louviere, property of Andre Lurton. The visit started with a little explanation of the Chateau followed by a tour of the winery and the impressive cellar. We moved to a great tasting showcasing about 20 different dry white and red wines with a fantastic dinner later (where we tasted a Chateau La Louviere white from 1994, incredible!).
For the last day we drove up to Chateau la Lagune, in the Medoc district were again we drove past Latour, Pichon Comtesse de Lalande and Margaux to arrive to this beautiful old Chateau. There we again tasted about 10 different red wines from several areas. We enjoyed our best lunch of the stay there cooked by a great young Chef, she specially cooked Joel Robuchon’s special mash potatoes, just delicious!
After four amazing days in this fantastic area, we had the chance to visit and taste a great panel of wines normally ranging between £5.00 to £15.00 and really understand that Bordeaux is not only about expensive Great Growth, but that small, less known estates or region doesn’t mean less in term of quality, I think it means the complete opposite. The smaller estates are fighting to produce amazing wines that worth knowing and should be drunk. This trip was fantastic and I look forward to go back very soon!