Bordeaux VIP Travelogue
A Destiny of Passion, Pride & Artistry
by Chef Francois Fisera
“Had God have prohibited drinking, would he have created such delicious wine?”
-Prince Robert de Luxembourg
Domaine Clarence Dillon
The Bordeaux vineyard is the largest in the world. First planted by the Romans, then, the Aquitaine region was occupied by the English for 600 years. It was finally returned to the French through a royal marriage.
But, what is it like to walk in the fields, taste the sweetness of the grapes, and then venture forth into the hallowed halls of some of the greatest chateaux in history? Or to meet some of the most passionate people behind the most memorable and iconic wines in the world? What is it like to see the pride of accomplishment in this most reputable part of France? And the artistry behind it? So, my journey began, in a region of France that to this day, still amazes and enthralls me.
The 11 chateaux we visited, all in one week, had tremendous pride in their vines, their wine-making process, and of course their own unique histories of how they came to be. Stories of young entrepreneurs, jilted lovers and familial ancestors entranced us travelers as we wandered among the vineyards lined up perfectly row after row, like Bordeaux’s own Corps de Ballet, their leaves dancing to the music of the breeze, in the spotlight of a golden autumn sun.
The taste of the delicate, sweet grapes, off the vine, the first extraction of post fermentation Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Semilion, and all the delectable vintages presented to us reflected the uniqueness yet commonality the vineyard owners possess.
When one writes of passion, the first thought is that of romance. This is certainly true, however, in Bordeaux, there is a passion for one’s own terroir, or earth. The richness of the soil, the climate which varies from year to year, and the yearning for a successful harvest. Many of the chateau owners shared that the year 2018 is said to be one of the best. They shared that the year started with a rain that seemed to never cease and then the sun came out and never stopped shining. They were passionate as they spoke of their good fortune.
Artistry is what often came to my mind as I sampled the menus of these chateaux and enjoyed the pairing of the wines with the aromatic cuisine that was presented to us for lunch and dinner. You could not possibly have one without the other.
Even at a local restaurant in Les Arcins village called Le Lion d’Or, the Chef presented us with an artistic masterpiece called, a croque-en-bouche. A traditional delicacy of cream puff pastries in the shape of a tower and drizzled with golden threads of caramel. But the artistry did not end at the chateaux luxurious dining rooms, but in the wineries as well. There seemed to be a symbiotic relationship and pride with the Arts. Whether it was in promoting a local artist’s works in the chateau, or displaying beautiful and often stunning antiques reflective of a chateau’s history. Perhaps, as often thought, these vines not only hold future bottles of Bordeaux but art itself.
There is a sort of wistfulness to the end of a journey, whatever that journey may be. Perhaps some of my fellow travelers will remember these:
the view of the sun showering a tree with golden sunlight from the chateau window of Lascombes;
riding bikes alongside a just harvested vineyard as their leaves dance in the crisp fall air;
cool dampness of the wine cellars anchored in tradition, with eyes looking forward to new technologies of the future;
the pickers of the vines with weary arms but smiles of accomplishment for a job well done;
the Bardet family opening their doors, and sharing an evening filled with laughter around the Val d’Or oak table for a fabulous dinner.
For me, it will be the small production of 100% Sauvignon Blanc we discovered at Cheval Blanc, as well as the liquid gold we were served at Chateau d’Iquem. It was an experience reserved most notably for heads of state. Yet, what still remains engrained in my memory are the people of Bordeaux, the graciousness of the chateaux owners, and the pride, passion and artistry so reflective in their work and of course their wines.
Le Lion d/Or
Chateau Pape Clement
Chateau Marquis de Terme
Chateau Mouton Rothschild
Chateau Val d’Or
Chateau Cheval Blanc
Source de Caudalie
Spa Vinotherapie, Source de Caudalie
Chateau Haut Brion
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte