Bordeaux, France

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Sometimes I day dream about a big house (okay, let’s be honest, a château) in France, with a vineyard and a shaggy dog. On random Wednesday nights we host friends, eating al fresco on a wooden table. It is always a simple meal, nothing complicated or fancy, with fresh vegetables and perhaps a roast. There is always wine, from our own vines. I live in wellies, and the Frenchman begins to wear a hat and let his hair grow long. Mostly I take photographs, homeschool the always-dirty children, and stroll through the vineyard each morning. (Okay, pretty much in my day dreams I am Mimi Thorisson.)

If only we could live in Bordeaux, or perhaps spend some time there, doing a season at a vineyard in Margaux.  Most certainly we would be quite useless as we would spend a good part of the day sitting in the cellar and drinking bottle after dusty bottle of the really good stuff. Bordeaux is a magical place. The town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which means it’s historically cool, and down many streets are buildings whose long histories have seen power struggles of merchants and  vineyard owners, wine conglomerates and international markets. (We highly recommend you watch the movie “Red Obsession” for the history and current prognosis of the region.)

Our trip to Bordeaux taken this time last year began at l’École du Vin de Bordeaux, the wine school of Bordeaux, located directly across from the tourism office where skilled sommeliers help you find the perfect glass to start your visit off on a delicious note. Recommended by our wine-loving uncle, Bruno, it was a trip highlight. No trip to Bordeaux is complete without a visit to the vineyards, so we next hopped on a bus to the countryside. Our initial thought was to do our own vineyard tours, however, we visited in December, after the harvest, and during a downtime for the châteaux as the grapes had been picked, the vats prepared, and prepared and the wine was in the process of fermenting. Thus, the tour organized by the Tourism Office was a way for us to visit the otherwise closed vineyards, learn about the vines and wines, and meet the proprietaries of Château du Taillan and Château Kirwan, the former making the interesting white Bordeaux, << La Dame Blanche. >> At 34 euros per person, including tastings, it was much more economical than had we organized the visits ourselves.

Of course, a place with good wine must have just as delicious food to pair with it, so we ate and drank our fill while wandering around the old city of Bordeaux, looking at its towers and churches, playing on the Miroir d’Eau, and attending a mid-morning concert at the opera house. Though early December is not a traditional time to visit Bordeaux we found the small city to be positively charming, even when surrounded by bare vines, and we are looking forward to another visit sometime in the future during the harvest when we can sit outside of a charming B&B in Saint Emilion, with some cheese or perhaps some grilled mushrooms, kick up our feet, and toast to the deliciousness that is Bordeaux. À votre santé!

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