Five eye openers for your first time in Bordeaux
Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
We witnessed sights that you just can’t fully visualise from a text book.
The sheer variety and difference in ethos of producers was the most evident learning of the trip: from LVMH-owned Château Y’quem with its grandiose, beautiful vistas, corporate buildings and professionally-run tasting, to the privately owned First Growth Château Ausone (my personal favourite as a die-hard fan of their violet, herbaceous Cabernet Franc) where the two Weimaraner dogs greeted us and led us through the naturally-maintained cellars and steep, south-east facing vineyards.
The sheer passion of the producers was evident at Châtau L’Eglise-Clinet: the owner Denis Durantou got on his hands and knees to dig up the soil showing us exactly the type of sticky wet matter (rich in gravel, clay, sand and iron) that allowed his merlot vines to grow so well ‘here’ as opposed to ‘there’ where the soil was finer and sandy. This delicious wine is typically a blend of 80% Merlot.
The bravery of producers to explore and experiment with new techniques and processes was also abundantly clear: Château Pontet Canet demonstrated their commitment to biodynamism with a perfectly-timed vista of horse-drawn machinery working the vineyard as we wound our way through the estate on the visitor golf buggy.
Biodynamic processes were equally evident in the Sauternes vineyard of Château Climens: they showcased their commitment to the ‘new age’ production methods (which they were learning from Pontet Canet) in their old rustic barn with two metres squared of lemongrass, brambles and Camomile laid out to dry on the top floor to be used in biodynamic processes.
Beauty and function live happily side by side in Bordeaux, as at Ch. Margaux: the vision of the beautiful chateau juxtaposed with a (very smart) mobile bottling plant (an articulated lorry swiftly and deftly sorting, filling and labelling the bottles for storage) is not easily forgettable.
If you have never been to Bordeaux before I urge you to go and witness if for yourself. You are guaranteed to want to go back for more.