The Daily Telegraph - Travel
IN VINO VERITAS
KNOW YOUR BORDEAUX
The vineyards cover 280,000 acres around the Gironde estuary and its tributaries, the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. This is the biggest appellation wine zone in France, but is outranked in sheer quantity terms by Languedoc.
80 per cent of the wines are red, and divided into 57 or 63 appellations, depending on who’s counting. The majority are neither grand crus nor even particularly expensive. Around 50 per cent are in the catch-all “Bordeaux” or “Bordeaux Supérieur” categories, which cover the whole region. Despite being called “superior”, “Bordeaux Supérieur” is the second lowest rank of Bordeaux wines, superior only to straight “Bordeaux”.
Within these two general appellations come lots of more tightly drawn district appellations (Médoc, Graves) and, within them, village appellations which are tighter yet (St Estèphe, PessacLéognan).
Some of the best bargains are found in lesseresteemed, but friendlier appellations – Blaye-Côtesde-Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg, Entre-Deux-Mers – where fine bottles may come a good bit less than a tenner. The three main grape varieties in Bordeaux are cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. The Bordeaux Wine Festival, Europe’s biggest biennial wine thrash, celebrates its 10th edition from June 23-26 with wine-tasting pavilions and food trucks along two kilometres of riverfront, art shows, son-et-lumières on to the Place de la Bourse, firework displays and gaiety Book now. The city is expecting 700,000 visitors. Book your tasting pass online at the same time: it’s £12, as opposed to £16 during the festival (bordeaux-winefestival.com).
wine, like straight lines, was old hat for French groovers. Now it’s branché. For proof, pick up the Urban Wine Trail leaflet or download the app (bordeauxtourisme.com) and stroll around the city’s selection of wine bars, populated by sharp young folk. Don’t miss The Wine Bar at the Boutique Hotel (whose Peruvian sommelier will fox you fine) or La Ligne Rouge, near the Porte de Caihau, where the owner has almost as many world wines as the Cité du Vin. If you need your mind changing about Bulgarian reds, this is the place. No one has said that about Bordeaux before. The city is now fruity, cultivated and mature, with floral and mineral notes and a lingering sensation of elegance. For immediate uncorking.