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A week in the Bordeaux Vineyard with Alaïs. First experience as a wine guide

2019-01-06

A bit of my experience as a guide with my very first group of visitors from Saint Petersburg!
During my (fantastic) internship in SPB last spring, I had to organize a 5-day trip to the Bordeaux wine region for wine lovers studying at the Wine Academy.
First of all … We were not really lucky with the weather! So I learned something important: never forget about umbrellas for the clients! We had 2 days under the rain, fortunately, it ended happily and joyfully!

DAY 1 – DISCOVERING BORDEAUX
Hello cheese lovers !! When we talk about wine, in France, so there is always cheese nearby. Our trip started with amazing cheese and wine tasting in the heart of the city. There is a fantastic cheese bar where you can try more than 100 different cheeses, mostly from France. Wine bottles stand everywhere around the cheese cellar so you can also choose the bottle you want to pair with the cheese.
Unfortunately, our city walk was a bit compromised by the rain, but we found a nice place to try one of our local Bordeaux’ pastry: the canelé, made with egg yolks, as they only use egg whites for the winemaking.

DAY 2 – MEDIEVAL UNESCO CLASSIFIED VILLAGE OF ST EMILION
The second day was a tour to the lovely medieval Unesco Classified village of St Emilion.
After a short trip to the supermarket to buy umbrellas (I was so delighted to run my first tour that I completely forgot about the fact that… it can rain!)
I took my group to an ancient convent from the 13th century, that the religious left after French Revolution, and where they are now producing Cremant de Bordeaux (quite unusual in Bordeaux but yes, we also have sparkling).
We luckily found a nice place out of the rain, and had a lovely very-French picnic, with cheese, wine, baguette, paté, cherry tomatoes. Bon appétit!
As we where tasting sparkling, Olga, manager & lecturer at the Wine Academy showed her skills in « sabrage ». We were all amazed!
When the rain stopped, we went for a bicycle ride across the vineyard and could taste a different kind of grapes as the harvest was not done yet.

DAY 3 – CRU CLASSE TOUR IN THE PRESTIGIOUS MEDOC AREA
We spend our 3rd day in Medoc, which is actually the most prestigious appellation in the Bordeaux area, as they produce here the most famous and expensive wines of Bordeaux, the « Crus Classes ». I am sure you have already heard about Mouton Rothschild, Latour, Lafitte, or Château Margaux.
We started in Château Paloumey with a wine blending masterclass, where we created our own wine! The goal is to blend different wines, from different grapes in order to find the perfect balance between them. The harvest started already in the vineyard, and the vats were full of grape juice, not fermented yet, and we had the opportunity to try it, directly from the tanks! The clients said it tastes like « morse »… Maybe you have tried this sweet Russian beverage?
After that winemaking experience, we went for lunch in one of the biggest winery in Medoc: Château Lagrange. Here there were also harvesting, and we could see how they select the berries with the optical sorter, a very modern machine that the wine-master set up in the order it can sort up the berries by itself.

DAY 4 – OCEAN, DUNE, AND OYSTER
A relaxing day by the ocean. We started the day hiking the highest dune in Europe, The Dune of Pyla. It is almost 107 meters hight! Not that easy to reach the top, but believe me, it is worth it! The view is outstanding!
To reward my group of climber after such an effort, we went to the port for a visit to the oyster museum, followed by an oyster and sea-food tasting. They enjoyed fresh whelks that they tried for the first time.
We ended our day-trip by an aperitive by the front ocean, in the city of Arcachon. It couldn’t be the nicest way to end that beautiful (and sunny !) day.

DAY 5 – SWEET BORDEAUX TOUR
Last day in the Bordeaux region! Seems like we finished with the desert, as that day was dedicated to the Sauternes region, that produces only sweet wines.
We had an amazing vertical tasting, which is a tasting of the same wine, but from different years. We tried young and old wines side by side, so the group could see how the wine evolves and changes across the time.
To finish that beautiful week, I took the group to a new restaurant run by the very famous French starred-chef Philippe Etchebest.
I was honestly tired driving this huge minivan in the very narrow street of Bordeaux (I admit that it's me that scratched it on the left side…) and speak three different languages every day (French, English and Russian).
But what an experience! I am now waiting for new adventures with new wine lovers in the Bordeaux’ vineyards! Waiting to welcome you all in Bordeaux!

Please, visit "Bordo’Chateaux" FaceBook page  

Author: Alaïs Riglet, https://www.facebook.com/alaisriglet 

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