Bordeaux – our next stop on the adventure is the current home of Ryan and Chris. We had rented an apartment not far from the center of the city and we connected with them as we coordinated with the Owner for access. It’s a two-bedroom place on the third floor – no view to speak of but it includes parking which is a must.
We have been in Bordeaux previously so we have already visited many of the significant sites.
Our goal here was to visit with Ryan and Chris, eat a few nice meals
and venture down to Sauternes to sample Château d’Yquem.
Of course there are open markets and we tromped around a couple just to see what is out there.
It amazes me the amount of stuff that gets put out at one of these markets. There were tables and tables of old photographs, silverware, furniture, lamps, clothing, door hardware, books, bottles of all sizes – an amazing assortment of things.
Of course there was several different churches
to go into, places to eat, shopping walkways (there is even an Apple Store)
to avoid and beautiful weather. We have been very fortunate, thus far, to be on the cusp of spring with clear skys and lovely weather (hopefully that will come with us as we venture north to Belgium and the Netherlands).
However, the one thing I had mentioned to Ryan I wanted to do was visit Château d’Yquem.
While Sauternes are certainly not the main adult beverage we enjoy, from time to time it is nice to have something different and Château d’Yquem is just that special thing.
The last time we were here the chateau was closed, as were many of the chateau in the district as it was May Day – a National Holiday.
The making of sauternes is not easy – the grapes basically have to be infected by a fungus – Noble Rot – grapes typically become infected with Botrytis when they are ripe.
When it is determined that it is time to pick, the crews go through the vineyards and only pick those grapes that are ready – this is very demanding, hand work and results in multiple passes through the vineyards.
As many as 5 or more different pickings can be required to get all the fruit from the vines during the season.
Once the grapes are picked it is a traditional wine making process – press the grapes, age the juice in oak barrels, blend to make the right flavor profile and bottle it. Château d’Yquem, as I’m sure most producers in the area, age the wine in barrel (new French oak) for two years before making the final blend and bottling the juice. Needless to say all the labor involved results in some hefty pricing for the really good stuff. The average price for a standard bottle of Château d’Yquem is over $300 and goes even higher depending on the age of the bottle.
Our tour was enjoyable – visiting the aging caves, learning the history of the Chateau (another wine widow 19th century as in Champagne), seeing vines, a flower and herb garden –
but of course the final stop – the tasting room was the highlight. We tasted both the still (non-sweet white wine they make, also very pricy) as well as the 2017 vintage of the good stuff. It was quite nice and a second pour was offered and accepted!
Along the way we have had some great meals and more to come. We are in Bordeaux for another few days flying to Brussels on Sunday.