Feeling Vine in Bordeaux

I recently spent a beautiful long weekend amongst the ancient vines of Bordeaux, and in particular, the Margaux and St. Emilion regions.  In Bordeaux, the wine making industry dates back to Roman times. The tourism industry; however, has only started booming in recent years. As our chipper guide, Josie, pointed out, competition with the tourism in places like Napa valley in California finally forced, the albeit reluctant, French wine producers to hop on the band wagon and open their chateaux doors… Lucky us!

I like my wine, but let’s be honest– I prefer my gardens and chateaux, and did Bordeaux ever deliver on that front!

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The tree-lined pathways of Bordeaux are truly beautiful to behold, and you can’t help but feel like you’re walking in an Impressionist painting. Dappled light, jewel-coloured foliage, neatly lined rows of plane trees… but Bordeaux’s amazing beauty truly lies outside of the city itself, out in the ancient vineyards of its surrounding countryside.
Roses guard the vines
Bordeaux wines are unique in that all of their wines are blended, meaning they are mixed from a variety of different grapes. These each thrive according to different factors, such as soil. In Margaux, for example, the soil or ‘terroir’ was especially pebbly. One thing I noticed across all of the vineyards, regardless of grape variety, were roses! Roses have decorated Bordeaux vineyards for centuries. Though they are simply decorative now, they were originally used to spot vine-harming diseases. As it happens, roses and grapes are related, and diseases will show up in the roses first!
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Rows and rows of roses
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And the juicy grapes they guarded glistened in the warm air! I really wanted to eat one, but they are far from ripe!

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Chateau Soutard overlooks the medieval village of St. Emillion. I have to admit, this Chateau lost a bit of its charm when we found out it was owned by an insurance company. That said, it definitely had money to burn, and the decor was stunning. In an attempt to channel its medieval roots, ornate wall carvings and tapestry-inspired wallpapers adorned every wall. The view of St Emillion from the vineyards was pretty breathtaking, too!

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Flowers seemed to grow out of every surface, like this spattering of posies along the entryway into St. Emilion, a medieval village carved from the region’s golden terrain.
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Viewing the medieval village from within it’s ancient walls

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After a few hours in St Emiion (That’s really all you need if you’re pressed for time), we ventured further into the surrounding ‘countryside.’ I use the term countryside loosely, because everything seemed so meticulously cultivated and cultured that it made Canadian countryside seem entirely wild by comparison (which, I guess it is! :P). Rows and rows of vines as far as the eyes can see, punctuated only by the occasional house or row of trees.

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If you can make it to the Clos to la Medeleine, I recommend it as my favourite chateau in St. Emilion! From the lovely pigeon tower to the expansive views of vine-covered hillside, it managed to capture the essence of exactly what you imagine when you think of French wine country.

Bonus Tip for Bordeaux:

If you’re looking for an excellent guide, I recommend Ophorus Tours. Of the tour groups we booked with, Ophorus was by far the best! From the genuinely passionate guide to the amazing wine tastings, you definitely get your money’s worth. The eclectic selection of chateaux was also appreciated on this tour, and the guide even offered to detour if you had any specific requests!

Well that’s all for this week’s botanical adventure. If you’ve ever been to Bordeaux, I’d love to hear your recommendations!

 

 

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