JUST a short flight away from the UK, Bordeaux is perfect for a wine lover’s mini-break. The French city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a host of events in 2012.
On certain weekends châteaux in different Bordeaux appellations open their doors to welcome visitors to tour their properties and taste their wines. The dates for the 2012 Portes Ouvertes (literally translated as “Open Doors”) and other events have now been released. Here’s a selection:
Salons des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants (9-11 March) Visitors to the Parc des Expositions (just outside Bordeaux city) can meet 250 independent winemakers from all over France. www.vigneron-independant.com.
Printemps des Châteaux – Portes Ouvertes en Médoc (31 March-1 April) Along the “châteaux route” from Bordeaux to the Pointe de Grave, which includes ultra-modern cellars as well as more traditional properties, the Médoc opens its doors to the public and presents its wines and gastronomy. www.pauillac-medoc.com.
Printemps des Liquoreux à Cadillac (14-15 April) Sweet wine tastings. www.sweetbordeaux.com.
Portes Ouvertes in Saint Emilion (28 & 30 April) Wine lovers can explore the medieval town, attend classes at the Saint-Émilion Maison du Vin Wine School and walk through some of the vineyard routes. www.maisonduvinsaintemilion.com.
Marathon des Vins de Blaye (12 May) Annual race passes 12 châteaux and includes more than 30 wine tastings along the route (optional, of course). The final 195m are run on a red carpet up to the Dauphine Gate of the Citadelle de Blaye. www.marathondeblaye.com.
Weekend Des Grands Crus (12-13 May) Tasting of over 100 Grand Cru wines, presented by their creators, under one roof in the heart of the Bordeaux appellations. Visitors can also book to attend various châteaux dinners and vineyard tours. www.ugcb.net.
“Médocaine” for Mountain Bikes - in Margaux and its surroundings (26 May) A mountain bike race through the Margaux vineyards. www.medocainevtt.com.
Bordeaux Fête le Vin (28 June-1 July) Biennial Bordeaux Wine Festival includes a "Wine Road" where visitors can taste and learn about Bordeaux wines; workshops led by the city’s own École du Vin; a music festival and nightly light and sound shows. www.bordeaux-fete-le-vin.com.
FlyBe operates a limited, seasonal summer service during July and August from Manchester), www.flybe.com; easyJet a limited, seasonal service during the summer months from Liverpool), www.easyjet.com.
Visit the Bar à Vin, situated below the Wine School (the École du Vin) with classes in English by local wine experts. Sample new wines in a wonderful setting. (http://baravin.bordeaux.com/)
Where to stay:
Maison Fredon is a newly renovated 18th century building, which is opening as a B&B in the old district of Bordeaux opposite the owner’s acclaimed restaurant, La Tupina. Five spacious rooms with high ceilings and French fireplaces priced between 180 and 250 Euros per room (breakfast is an extra 20 Euros). (Information: 00 33 5 56 91 56 37 or www.latupina.com/pages/maison-fredon.php).
Where to eat (new restaurants):
La Tour des Chartrons: Modern bistro plus bar with panoramic views. (28 rue Latour – 33000 Bordeaux, 00 33 5 56 81 94 13, http://latourdeschartrons.fr/).
Wine & Soul: A bar and restaurant with a Spanish chef and more than 250 wines, plus monthly live music nights. (23 rue du Couvent – 33000 Bordeaux, 00 33 5 57 77 09 86).
La Fayencerie: Based in a former porcelain shop, chef Philippe Gauffre is today recognised in Bordeaux for his use of ingredients. (16-18 rue Saint Rémi – 33000 Bordeaux, 00 33 5 57 83 20 09, www.lafayencerie.com).
Fuxia: An Italian restaurant and deli with a lounge for tea and cake, a cocktail bar and a terrace with olive trees. (40 allée d’Orléans – 33000 Bordeaux, 00 33 5 56 52 81 23, www.fuxia.fr/).
L’Oiseau Bleu: Sophie and Frederick Lafon chose an old police station for this restaurant, which after much work is now a contemporary and elegant venue, with two rooms and a terrace at the rear. (127 avenue Thiers – 33100 Bordeaux, www.loiseaubleu.fr).
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