Eight years ago, I started working in the wine industry and quickly took a disliking to Bordeaux wines. I couldn’t afford it, I struggled to understand the labels and was utterly confused by the different regions and Chateaux. And why would I ever visit? I assumed it would be full of old people and I’d need a small fortune.
I was very lucky to be invited to Bordeaux in June to be shown the delights the city has to offer, drink all of the wine and of course, be proved totally wrong.
Some of the most expensive wines in the world come from Bordeaux, one of the reasons for my lack of expertise and nonchalance. “Some” being the operative word. I spent three days tasting and learning that yes there are some delicious and pricey wines but also some that are bloody tasty and excellent value. Let me introduce you to Bordeaux Blanc.
Sauvignon blanc tends to top the polls in the UK for our favourite white wine but did you know that this popular grape variety actually originated in Bordeaux! The Kiwis have made a name for themselves as the masters of this noble grape but the Bordelais have been doing it way longer and in my humble opinion, better. I try not to slag wines off but I’m over the Marlborough style of Sauvignon Blanc to the point where it’s put me off the grape entirely. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m all about Chardonnay so I was pleasantly surprised to be reacquainted with an old favourite.
I love a bargain and Bordeaux Blanc is exactly that. Sainsburys have one in their Taste the Difference range and it always seems to be on offer at around six or seven quid. Bags of citrus flavours, hints of white peach, great on it’s own or with fish and perfect for a Friday night.
Top tip: sec means “dry” in French, it won’t always be on the label of a dry white wine but if you see it, now you know.
Since they’re pretty big on all things wine, they’ve built a state-of-the-art museum dedicated to it; La Cité Du Vin. What I loved most about the place was that it didn’t just cater to those in the industry, you could be a complete wine novice and not only learn loads but have a really fun time. I’ve been saying for years that wine is cool and the multi-sensory exhibition proves my point. Plus, you get a glass of wine on the top floor with an stunning view over Bordeaux included in the ticket price. That’s my kinda museum.
The other key thing to know about Bordeaux is that they’re also famous for their delectably decadent sweet wines. My friends often scrunch their noses at me when I mention sweet wine but once it’s chilled and paired with either desert (duh) or salty/blue cheese, they’re quickly wanting to know more. The most famous sweet wine from Bordeaux is Sauternes; you tend to buy it by the half bottle, it’s more of a sipper than a glugger (though not always in my case) and starts around £13-15 per bottle. You’d be correct in thinking “ummm, that’s more than I spend on a regular bottle of wine” but as with all sweet things, this is more of a treat-yo-self deal. It’s great for bringing to a dinner party, you’ll look very sophisticated and people will think you know loads about wine, even if you don’t.
I’d like to finish this post but telling you to immediately google flights to Bordeaux because it’s such a bargain. I went in June (perfect weather) and return flights were well under £50. The city is so pretty; bars galore, restaurants aplenty and if you like gawping at beautiful architecture – this is the place for you. I went during their famous Fête le Vin which was crazy, but in a good way. The promenade is packed with booths of winemakers giving out samples of their wines. You get card that you top up (a boozy Oyster card, if you will) and wander along drinking and intermittently dancing when the bands pipe up. The festival ends in the most spectacular fashion, an insane pyrotechnics show which includes fire-breathing dragon ships. Whilst questioning the health and safety of what can only be described as fire-ships, you will also be in awe and wondering why the hell you haven’t visited before.