The Wineyard series is a section that I would like to dedicate specifically to my visits to different vineyards, wineries and getting to know particular wines from the very core of it – wine production.
There is nothing quite like being in the very place, where every single aspect of it influences the final outcome of a product. To be in a place, the source, where any alteration to the process whether naturally or unnaturally has a significant impact on the style and quality, and ultimately the appreciation of the wine.
This is what Wineyards is all about: the wines, the wineries that produce them, the vineyards the grapes grow in, the people and the stories behind it, the places, regions and countries that make each wine different from the next and the yards in distance I travel to get to know these.
For this first installment of Wineyards, I would like to walk down the most majestic of lands for anyone who is captivated by the world of wine no matter at what level. It is the Disneyland of winos, a vision of farm life at its most elegant.
Bordeaux is a region in the southwest area of France. It is considered the wine capital of the world with a history of winemaking that date back to pre-10th century. It is home to some of the rarest and most expensive wines in the market today, and one of the most preserved of winemaking traditions and heritage.
Bordeaux’s history in winemaking is rich and profound. And some of the most notable wineries in this region have their own equally compelling stories to tell. But its town, its quaint, beautiful medieval town, is as romantic and charming as almost any European city you can imagine. Cobblestone roads, limestone structures that combine clean lines and intricate details that all get beautifully lit up at night offering a soft, warm glow of the city, and all within an arm’s length of a good bottle of wine.
The town is evenly lined with small cafes, restaurants, bars that, even on narrow roads, offered outdoor dining options. I was very happy to have lost myself in a few streets dedicated purely to shopping! It was a truly enchanting city to walk around in day or night.
Bordeaux is a place more famously known for its wine. Its food scene, however, cannot be left unsung.
Though foie gras, a personal favorite of mine, an all-time crowd-pleaser and a local delicacy, is readily available almost anywhere, the seafood variety was most memorable for me.
They served us the freshest seafood – some I met for the first time only – prepared and plated most simply, and was the easiest to gorge over with a light, peachy rose from Provence.
While Bordeaux has history and tradition written all over it, it is as dynamic as any modern metropolis, but always, always with the elegant French flair. There are underground clubs, rooftop bars, a train shuttle traversing the town, and squares, though seemingly vintage, could be easily converted to a hip party place for a wine event.
Driving beyond the city was more exciting. Depending on where you are headed, on one side would almost always be a body of water – normally one of the main rivers that served as natural irrigation for vineyards and the other side would be a combination of vast lands after vast lands of vineyards and a sprinkling of different sizes and shapes of chateaux that all looked like mini castles.
I was lucky to have been able to visit some chateaux and meet the people behind the wines we drink. But I’ll save this wineyard for another time.
We went in the summer, a time when the vines were bushy but still in the flowering stage of growth.
And by summer, I mean western summer – which, especially at nights, is still a whole lot more chilly than even the coldest months in Manila. But in the afternoons, it was just perfect. The right amount of sun, cool air, a soft breeze, no humidity… the kind of weather that made exiting Manila airports upon arrival the worst feeling.
Visiting Bordeaux is still one of my best experiences. Getting to know much more than the sampling I got of the laid-back but chic lifestyle of its people, its cuisine, its wines and the people behind it most of all, make returning to this vibrant city a separate bucket list on its own.