Wine in the city
Wine is part of the very fabric of the Bordeaux, and visitors to the city will find reminders everywhere, both ancient and modern, of how vital a role it has played in the lifeblood of this vibrant southwestern port.
It was the Garonne river, and its easy access to the trade routes of the Atlantic ocean, that first gave Bordeaux wine visibility overseas. These early exchanges helped the region towards its current world renown, so your wine walk should begin along the newly restored quays.You will pass the graceful Place de la Bourse, where the Customs Museum can give an insight into the intricacies of trading wine and other goods, and further along the curved Port de la Lune, among the cafes and shops of the Quai des Chartrons, look out for traces of iron tracks are still visible along the river bank. If you were here in the 18th and 19th centuries, your walk would have been punctured by burly-armed workers rolling barrels along the tracks, sailors loading and off-loading cargo ships, and a constant haggling between merchants from Ireland, England, Germany, Holland and France – head to the Musée d’Aquitaine for a permanent exhibition that gives a wonderful flavour of what it was like.
Or stay in Chartrons, and take a stroll through its narrow streets where, hidden among the jostling buildings, you’ll find a museum that traces the fascinating history of wine merchants in the area. Traces of history are also visible on many of the tall limestone buildings along the quays and up the sweeping streets of Cours de l’Intendance and Cours du Chapeau Rouge where carvings in the limestone show models of grapes and casks, signifying the occupations of their former owners. But modern Bordeaux – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site – has equally embraced the culture and excitement of wine. New wine bars are springing up on every corner today, offering a wide range of wines by the glass to sample the many red, white, rosé and sparkling wines that Bordeaux produces.
One offers the rare chance to try some of the region’s most celebrated, sought after wines by the glass, while others specialise in matching wines with traditional local delicacies of duck rillettes, foie gras, oysters from the Arcachon Bay or an abundance of local cheeses. You can learn a little more about what you are sampling at the wine school, and in many other tasting vebnues. The city today provides the vital link out to the vineyards, and is a showcase for the wines and the winemakers themselves.