Bordeaux Wine Tours

Very much the jewel in the crown of French wine. A region blessed with the ideal blend of climate, soils and topography to make great wine. There are basically three wine-making areas: the Médoc and Graves; the Right Bank; and Entre-Deux-Mers.

The Médoc and Graves make up a more or less continuous strip of 125 kilometres – Graves snaking along the Garonne river to the south of Bordeaux city, the Médoc hugging the Gironde estuary to the north. The big names are here – Yquem, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite…From luscious dessert whites to austere, long-lived reds. Do not visit for dramatic scenery – what there is is rather flat and uninteresting. But it only takes a glass of red on the quayside in Pauillac, a romantic nature and a half-squinted eye to imagine sailing ships stocked to the gunnels with liquid gold heading for the Atlantic and the brave new world of export opportunities beyond.

Bordeaux wine tours

The Right Bank lies to the east of the city. Its artery is the Dordogne river and its trading heart the town of Libourne. It is home to the wines of St Emilion and Pomerol. It’s prettier and hillier than the Médoc, and the wines are more amenable and less straightlaced. The town of St Emilion is quaintly medieval – cobblestoned streets from the merlot-addled brain of an ancient town planner.

Entre-Deux-Mers (literally ‘between two seas’ but really between the Dordogne and Garonne rivers) is a triangular jigsaw piece set between the other two areas and pointing at Bordeaux city. Often overlooked by the visiting wine buff, but if time permits, well worth a look. Very much the home of generic Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur reds, it is also known for its range of whites, from dry to sweet.

Bordeaux city itself oozes the history and wealth of wine. Much of the older centre is at least semi-pedestrianised so it’s fun for strolling and shopping. Also eco-friendly, with a new network of almost lethally silent trams.

 Bordeaux Wine Tour Basics

  • Roughly 600 kms southwest of Paris, bordering Atlantic
  • Vineyards developed by Romans, 1st century AD
  • Major British influence following marriage of Henry Plantaganet (future King of England) to Eleanor of Acquitaine in 1152
  • Major climatic ‘steadying’ effect of Atlantic and Gironde estuary
  • Mostly known for reds, but sweet Sauternes (eg Yquem) very famous
  • Key tasting words (reds): cinnamon, blackcurrant, oak, raspberry, smoke, clove, musk, pepper, bell pepper, rose, truffle, violet