5S. . .Take Two


So what is “Bordeaux”wine anyhow?  My learning from the past few days is that it’s a style with two distinct grape types, depending on which bank of the Gironde (river) the vines live.  On the right we have wines mainly with fruitier merlot, and on the left we have wines primarily with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes as the main player.  Wednesday was the day we booked a tour of the Medoc region on the left bank.  Check out http://www.bordovino.com for excellent tours.  We’re fans!

Driving into Bordeaux we were awed with lovely buildings.

Amazingly we found our way into a parking garage ( which later cost us 23€, but hey, it’s a city), and we’ve learned from prior experience to record our territory!!

A lovely lunch got us In Just the right spirit .


Our group of 7 boarded the comfy van and our guide Stefen began educating us on the wines of the left bank. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape likes the soil of the Medoc because it’s rocky, which means the pebbles hold the heat of the day when nights are cool. The vines just began sprouting leaves during the past week, and when a bit.more  mature sport a heart-shaped opening that might be mistaken for a hole.  We passed hectare upon hectare of vines, and I think in terms of acres there are about 325,000 acres in just this one area.

Our first stop was Chateau Chasse-Spleen, an old and veery respected chateau in the area.


The owner is a lover of modern art, thus the large Wellington boots!!  Our guide showed us around the chateau, explaining and answering questions about growth, production, and all the whys and wherefores of the importance of vintages, the weather, the soil, and the team that tends the vines and blends the wine.  



I learned that grapes have three presses, and the question, “How do I know if I’m getting the first press?” Was answered simply, “the label must have the word chateau on it.”  Second presses will have some other name, and third presses are often the ” house wines” in restaurants.

Take a look at the barrel room:

Beautiful. But now take a look from the corner of the room.  Modern art, once again, called “Nine Triangles.”

( my photo cuts off one of the triangles!)  
A fun and very informative part of the afternoon was learning to identify the “sniff” of the 5 S’s.  Kudos to Don, who despite saying, “I’m no good at this” got three out of four exactly right!


After tasting two wines and putting our new knowledge to the test, we boarded the van again for a second chateau visit.

Owned by the same person (a woman who owns multiple vineyards), we marveled at the brand new stainless steel tower, completed just 6 weeks ago.  Modern art at its most unexpected, the view over  the countryside and of the chateau itself was breath-taking.

Try to pronounce the name of this chateau. . . Gruaud  Larose.

Again. An amazing tour by another guide.  Don and I agreed that all guides today were extraordinarily knowledgeable, passionate, and totally immersed in wine culture.  They just seemed to k ow everything.  

Random learnings from the day:

 French oak barrels cost between 700-900€.  They are used for 3 vintages and then are sold for 30-40€. 

Wines In The bottle can only be aged if first aged in oak. 

Shinier wine=higher acidity.

Good Medoc vintage 2012.

Old wine–open only 20 minutes in advance.

New wine–open 3-4 hours in advance.

At the end of the day I must admit, I’m still a right bank kind of gal.  I like the gentler flavors of the Merlot grape, although my love runs deep for the Sangiovese and sagrantino  grapes of Tuscany.  

A delicious and beautiful day!  I highly recommend http://www.bordovino.com!  

One response »

  1. Sounds like a fabulous tour and I hope to take it someday!

    You need to amend your blog to reflect that it’s the Gironde river, not the Garonne that has the right/left banksgoing through the Bordeaux region.

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