Wine Country: Bordeaux, France Part Deux
In the last essay on Bordeaux, we got you to the city and started the exploration of the Medoc Peninsula. Now, we continue with a route to the North of Bordeaux along the Dordogne River that the Discover Bordeaux site lists as “The Hillside Road.” Let’s get right to it.
Traveling up the A10 to the D669 will get you to Bourg, France from the center Bordeaux in about 45 minutes and give you plenty of opportunities to say to your lady friend, “Yeah, route 669, the extra 6 is for one of your friends.” As you will be driving along the north bank of the Dordogne River through the beautiful countryside and eventually to Chateau de la Citadelle, you’ll probably be able to get away with this creepy and ribald remark. Once in Bourg, the “Castle of the Citadel” is a cool historic site that has a network of underground tunnels connecting the Castle to the port, in case anything needs to be evacuated in a hurry to the sea (like you, if you ask for three additional friends.)
Of course, besides the historic nature of the area, you’re here for the wine. The starting place for the Cotes de Bourg appellation should be La Maison des Vins de Bourg that will introduce you to all of the activities of the various wineries in the area and their 150 wines.
One Chateau with free tasting tour and only about seven miles away is Chateau Le Sablard. Take the D23 out of Bourg (don’t even bother with Michael Jordan references unless you want to sew seeds of infidelity and number nerdiness in her mind) to the D132, left on the D137 and right on the D250. (Traveling these roads though is a great way to practice your French numbers. Deux cent cinquante!)
Backtracking on the D250 past the D137 for about three miles you’ll arrive at Chateau Mercier, which has been growing grapes since 1698. Their visitor center is open Monday through Friday in the mornings until noon and the afternoons from 2 pm to 5:30.
With so many wineries, there are plenty of places to visit (and this list or this map can help you search to find the ones that are the most interesting for you) but since we just headed back west, it seems only fitting to go all the way to Blaye (via D135 and D669), the center of the next appellation, Cotes de Blaye. However, on the way, you can stop by your first winery of this appellation, Chateau Mondesir Gazin, which is about halfway between Chateau Mercier and Blaye on the D669.
The first thing that caught my eye about Blaye was the Fortifications of Vauban that are there and part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. (What is also cool about this wine area is the city center of Bordeaux is on the list as well.) Built in the late 1600s, these medieval sites were used to defend the city and the mouth of the river.
Up twelve miles on the D255, you can visit Chateau Haut Grelot, for a wine tasting session. Then head south and east for eighteen miles to Chateau Haut Terrier for a tour and tasting before heading the last 25 miles on the N10 and A10 back to Bordeaux, because you’ll need your sleep to hit the next wine growing area. (Then again, if the day is still young, try a few more from this list or this map.) Happy tasting.
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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."