Travels With Victoria: To Sip a Rich Bordeaux

Our ship cruised up the Garonne River to reach the wine capital of France, the city of Bordeaux. All along the shores of the river were vineyards and chateaux, villages and woods, truly idyllic scenes.

The lovely Seabourn Pride docked right downtown and we could stroll all over the charming city of Bordeaux.

The Quay as we arrived

From the ship’s deck we saw the jardin.

Later, we walked in the shade through the perfectly spaced trees – so very French!!

At Chateau Paloumey…the final products.

One cannot visit Bordeaux without tasting the wines and we had the marvelous opportunity to visit
Chateau Paloumey (website here) where we indulged in a Blending Workshop.  We tasted three one-year old wines, a Merlot, a Cabernet Franc, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Our instructor told us how to judge the color, aroma and taste of the young wines, at the very point at which a professional would choose to blend the three in the best proportions for future aging in the barrel and eventual bottling.

Due to a warm spring, in May they were predicting a very early harvest.

I can truly say that I have no future as a blender of fine wines.  I wasn’t very good at it — but I learned a lot and have a new appreciation of how the complexities of the various wines can enhance each other.  Bordeaux reds, like we tasted, need a long period of aging.  Blending after only one year in the barrel requires long years of experience. I recommend leaving this process to the experts!

Chateau Paloumey is owned by Martine Cazeneuve, who is one of a group of six women wine-makers in the region. They have banded together for promotional activities and probably managed to shake up the centuries-old male-dominated wine business of the region.  You go, girl!

Above are two shots of the Place de la Bourse (stock market) and the miroir d’eau, developed to reflect the beautiful 18th century buildings.  It is a broad raised slab of stone covered with
a half inch or so of water, a perfect mirror, and also a great place for the kids to splash on a hot day.

The Cathedral of St. Andre has a gothic facade…

             …and brilliant stained glass windows — as well as many sacred chapels and tombs.

We usually try to visit the leading art museum in major cities — and Bordeaux has a honey! The Musee des Beaux Arts has a wonderful collection, covering many centuries. Naturally, I gravitated to the 18th and 19th century galleries and was reward by finding many interesting pictures and even a few old friends.

                Above is a portrait of John Hunter (c.1789) by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830).

              Countess Elisabeth of Salisbury (1769) is the work of Allan Ramsay (1713-1784).

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) painted this representation of ‘Greece on the Ruins of Messolonghi’ in 1828,  the site of Byron’s death in 1824 in the war for the independence of Greece.

A typical shop in Bordeaux where I was very tempted to buy French lavender plants, but I could not imagine keeping them alive and getting them home.  This was my very first visit to Bordeaux, which has a population of over a million in the metro area, the sixth largest city in France. I found it a delight and well worth another visit. In the meantime, I will comfort myself with Bordeaux — by the bottle!

Next stop: Guernsey

2 thoughts on “Travels With Victoria: To Sip a Rich Bordeaux”

  1. We've cruised on Seabourn many times, on the smallest of their ships (Pride, Legend, Spirit). They usually dock in the middle of towns — e.g. St. Petersburg, Russia, at the first Bridge; Seville, Spain right downtown; up several tributaries of the Amazon; through the Corinth Canal; Kotor, Montenegro; and many more. We really like their small ships with an excellent and flexible crew. They aren't suitable for children or for the glitz crowd — fine with me!!

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