PART 4: Bordeaux
Mérignac, just outside of Bordeaux, would be our home for the next three days. The original plan called for us to arrive in the city of Bordeaux much earlier then we did, and we were going to spend the afternoon and evening sightseeing. But the unplanned side trip to Château de Chenonceau caused those plans to be scrapped.
Still battling jet lag we got up early, and after a nice breakfast in our quiet and well stocked Airbnb, we tossed our day trip essentials into the car, and drove off toward our first destination, Château D’Agassac.
This charming 13th century château and winery on the left bank of the Gironde and is widely known for its award winning wines, its stunning dovecote tasting room, and its restaurant, La Table d’Agassac, which was unfortunately closed for renovations while we were there.
We had pre booked a tour and were a bit surprised to find ourselves the only ones on the grounds. Our English speaking guide was very informative, taking us to view the vines and then into the barrel room to learn about what makes each vintage unique.
SIDE NOTE: Most winery tours are done by reservation only. At the time of booking please request an English speaking guide if you need one. Be prepared for a little bit of walking, and it is recommended that you ask permission before taking photos, most allow photography in only certain areas of their operation.
Afterwards, we followed her dutifully to the charming circular dovecote with its 600 pigeon holes, (Rumored to represent the 600 acres of land owned at the time of its construction). It is currently the tasting room for the award winning vintages of the château and where my husband sampled the prized wine, and ultimately bought a case to take home.
CROSS TIP: Make sure you ask about shipping before you purchase. Here, they did ship, but because the shipping cost is almost as high as what the wine cost, they kindly recommended that we take it with us.
While it was a nice visit, it was a little sparse on detail and things to explore, but that was fine by me because I was excited to get going on our tour of the Bordeaux region.
But eating lunch was a priority, so we strapped the case of D’Agassac wine in a seatbelt like a precious toddler, and off we went along the picturesque Route des vins Bordeaux Pauillac, also known as the “Castle Route,” or even more simply as the D2.
To say that I was delighted by this road trip would be an understatement of vast proportions. I am actually not sure if there are enough superlatives to express my happiness at seeing so many Chateaus, charming towns, and vast vineyards clustered in so short a distance. I was hopping out of the car every other mile to snap photos.
I did eventually allow Mike to guide us to La Brasserie des Châteaux a small cafe in the commune of Margaux-Cantenac. We poked our heads in and saw a dozen boisterous locals finishing their mid day meals. It appeared that they were closing up for the day but we were beckoned in, and seated by a cheerful lady who happily helped us translate the day’s freshly made specials into English.
The kitchen is presided over by the affable and culinarily talented Chef Bruno. Finished with the lunch crowd and winding down before dinner, he came out from the kitchen to greet us and to have a chat. After some confusion involving a picture of the London Bridge, he was pleased to hear that we were American, after which he proudly showed us a picture of the state of Texas, laughing, I borrowed his phone and scrolled across the virtual country and showed him a photo of Washington DC, which is close enough.
Meeting the Chef was a wonderful experience and an absolute highlight of the trip. After lunch we got back on the D2 to find the incredible estates that were home to some of the most famous wines in the World. The Left Bank, as the region is called, is most famous for Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine here is of the 1855 Medoc classification.
SIDE NOTE: At the behest of Emperor Napoleon III, a classification system was put in place to categorized the Bordeaux wines, based at the time, on their price, and the château’s reputation; which translated into quality in the minds of the Emperor and the wine brokers. This classification system set the standard and to this day has only been adjusted twice.
To learn more about Bordeaux wine I would highly recommend this website: The Wine Cellar Insider
While traveling about, we noticed very few people out in the towns, absolutely no one in the vineyards, and while it was Monday, most of the wineries appeared to be shuttered for the day. (Thankfully for our budget or Mike probably would have purchased a case at each one!)
While I thought that the wine châteaus were the only destination for the day, Mike had other ideas. His final destination was Soulac-sur-Mer and the point of Medoc peninsula.
This picturesque little beach resort town with its beautiful beaches, pretty harbour, and intriguing statue of a little Lady Liberty was a wonderful final stop on a very full day in Bordeaux.
So after wading into the chilly spring waters of the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, we reluctantly climbed back into our car for the long, but visually stunning, trip back to the house.