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The French city of Bordeaux is world-renowned for its outstanding wines and cheeses. From growing the first cabernet sauvignon and malbec vines to producing famous goat cheeses like de Chevre and Chabichou, there are so many exquisite local specialties to sample in this stunning European destination. 

As such a legendary foodie haven, the best way to get a taste of the city is by sampling its traditional delights. In this article, we share all you know about cheese and wine tasting in Bordeaux to help you plan the most amazing gastronomic getaway to this wonderful corner of the world.

Bordeaux

History and Culture of Bordeaux Wine

History and Heritage

Wine-making is deeply rooted in the history and culture of Bordeaux. Its viticultural heritage traces back to when the Romans arrived in the region. They are thought to have been the first to cultivate, plant vineyards and produce wine in the region. 

However, some wine production predates their arrival and occupation. Winemaking really took off in Bordeaux during the Middle Ages, particularly after the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry Plantagenet. 

This union prompted the English King to encourage merchants and traders to establish themselves in the city, leading to Bordeaux wines gaining significant popularity and becoming highly sought-after in England.

Classification Systems

The Bordeaux wine classification system, established in 1855, is a fundamental aspect of the region’s viticultural heritage. It was commissioned by  Emperor Napoleon III, who sought a classification for France’s finest Bordeaux wines available worldwide. This system categorizes wines from premier estates into five growths (crus) and remains in use to this day.

Terroir and Grape Varieties

Bordeaux’s terroir, a complex interplay of soil, climate, and geography, imparts unique characteristics to its wines. The region primarily cultivates six grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carménère. Winemakers skillfully blend these varieties to craft diverse and iconic Bordeaux wines. 

Global Influence

Bordeaux’s influence extends beyond its borders, shaping winemaking practices worldwide. The region’s tradition of blending different grape varieties has inspired vintners globally. Bordeaux-style blends are now produced in various wine regions all over the world.

Bordeaux

Overview of Bordeaux Cheeses

Bordeaux’s Cheese Heritage

Cheese is also taken very seriously in Bordeaux. While the range of regional varieties is not as expansive as in some other areas of France, its heritage is characterized by quality and regional uniqueness. Cheese from other parts of France is also very popular in Bordeaux.

Cheeses to Try in Bordeaux

Bleu de Termignon

Though not exclusive to Bordeaux, this blue cheese is often found in the region. Made from raw cow’s milk, it has a robust flavor with earthy and spicy notes.

Gabietou

A semi-soft, farmhouse cheese made from a blend of cow, sheep, and goat milk. It has a creamy texture and a balanced, savory taste.

Local Production and Artisanal Craftsmanship

Bordeaux’s best cheeses highlight the region’s commitment to artisanal craftsmanship. Local farmers and producers employ traditional methods to protect the authenticity and quality of their products.

Pairing with Bordeaux Wines

Bordeaux cheese and wine pairings, you’ll learn all about how to choose the perfect grape juice to compliment your cheese. The regional reds, with their structured tannins, often find an ideal companion in semi-hard and blue cheeses. The creamy textures of the soft cheeses complement the diverse range of whites.

Bordeaux vineyard

The Best Time for Wine and Cheese Tasting in Bordeaux

The best time for wine and cheese tasting in Bordeaux is during the harvest season, which typically lasts from September to October. Wineries buzz with activity as grapes are harvested. If you take a Bordeaux wine tasting during this time, you’ll gain a fascinating firsthand view of this crucial step in the winemaking process.

The spring and summer months are great times for Bordeaux cheese and wine tasting tours. The region hosts various gastronomy and viticultural events over this period. Look out for festivals like “Printemps des Vins” in April or “Bordeaux Wine Festival” in June, where local wines and cheeses take center stage.

The late spring to early fall period, from May to September, aligns with peak tourist seasons. During these months, wineries often organize guided tastings and cellar tours, providing visitors with comprehensive wine and cheese tasting tours.

Bordeaux

The Top 5 Wine and Cheese Tasting Experiences in Bordeaux

1. Château du Taillan

Chateau du Taillan is a highly acclaimed, family-run wine estate that traces back to 1896. It is one of the top destinations for a Bordeaux wine and cheese tour because it offers guests the opportunity to sample three delicious whites, reds or rosés that have been carefully paired with regional cheeses, chocolates and dried fruits.

It provides a spectacular adventure for the taste buds. Upon arriving at Chateau du Taillan, you will be taken to the wine cellar where a member of the team will teach you all about the fascinating winemaking process they use to give each bottle its unique and special taste.

You’ll then proceed to the private cellar where all of the most esteemed vintages are kept. Your epicurean journey will end on a high with a Bordeaux cheese and wine tasting. Should you wish, you can then spend some time strolling around the breathtaking grounds of the estate around the castle.

2. Château Suduiraut

Dreaming of cheese and wine tastings in Bordeaux? Look no further than Château Suduiraut. The historic vineyard is located in the commune of Preignac in the southwest of France,  36 kilometers from Bordeaux city.

Chateau Suduiraut is famed for owning some of the finest terroirs in the region and producing its eponymous variety, a sweet white classified as Premier Cru Classé. As such a highly regarded winery, it comes as no surprise that it offers one of the best wine tastings in Bordeaux.

During your visit, you will be able to sample three exceptional vintages. All of the varieties have been thoughtfully paired with different cheeses to bring out unique flavors and textures within the wines. Chateau Suiduirat boasts 90 hectares of picturesque vineyards that you can explore during your visit.

3. Chateau Lauduc

Chateau Lauduc is another exceptional winery pairing local cheese with Bordeaux wine. The vineyard encompasses 55 hectares just a few kilometers from the city of Bordeaux.

It is a 100-year-old family estate dedicated to producing high-quality grape varieties, such as Merlot, Cabernet franc, Cabernet sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon. There are Bordeaux wines to suit all tastes at this establishment.

You can sample the likes of classic Entre-deux-mers whites and sparkling wine such as crémant de Bordeaux and the typical Clairet. When it comes to reds, Chateau Lauduc offers a whole spectrum, from those which are fruity and fresh to those with complex, woody aromas.

During your visit, you can treat your palate to a delightful combination of different Bordeaux wines expertly paired with local cheeses to create a remarkable symphony of flavors.

4. Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Martillac

Château Smith Haut Lafitte has a winemaking heritage tracing back over 800 years and is world-renowned for its production of exquisite whites and reds. The winery strikes a unique balance between traditional and modern methods, employing innovative and cutting-edge technologies to reduce its carbon footprint.

The winery is situated on the outskirts of Bordeaux and is surrounded by flourishing forestry and woodland. Tour Château Smith Haut Lafitte to uncover its unique heritage and the richness of its terroir, visit the cellars and sample them for yourself.

In fact, Château Smith Haut Lafitte offers one of the best wine tastings in Bordeaux. The tasting room is located underneath the winery’s distinctive tower, providing a stunning backdrop for sampling the establishment’s exceptional reds and whites. Follow up your tour with a 5-minute drive to Martillac Market, where you can taste a  wonderful array of local cheeses.

5. Château La Croizille

Chateau La Croizille is situated in Saint-Emilion at nearly the highest point in the appellation. It is one of the most unique wineries in the area as the family-run estate has an extremely modern design, with a striking orange and black color scheme.

While touring Château La Croizille, you’ll get an up-close look at the state-of-the-art technology the winery uses to make its delicious wines.  While the grapes are still harvested by hand, a mechanical sorter is used.

You can tour the vines and the cellars before trying some bottles for yourself. After ticking off one of the top wine-tasting tours in Bordeaux at this contemporary winery, you can take a short car ride to the local markets in Saint-Émilion to sample some tasty local cheeses.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux Cheese and Wine Tasting: Tips for Beginners

Explore Bordeaux’s Wine Diversity

Bordeaux is renowned for both red and white wines. Reds are often blends of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, while whites feature Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle. Familiarize yourself with these varieties to appreciate the region’s diverse offerings.

Terroir Influence

Bordeaux’s wines are strongly influenced by terroir—soil, climate, and geography. Explore wines from different appellations within Bordeaux to experience the nuanced flavors resulting from varied terroirs.

Tasting Order

Start with white wines before moving to reds. Within each category, progress from lighter to fuller-bodied wines. This sequence helps preserve palate sensitivity.

Color and Clarity

Observe the wine’s color and clarity. Reds may range from ruby to deep purple, while whites can vary from pale straw to golden yellow.

Aromas and Bouquet

Swirl the wine gently to release aromas. Inhale and identify the wine’s bouquet. Bordeaux wines often exhibit notes of black fruit, cedar, and subtle oak.

Wine Glass Etiquette

Use different glasses for red and white wines to enhance the tasting experience. Red wine glasses typically have a larger bowl to allow aeration.

Cheese to Pair with Bordeaux Wine

Pairing Red Wines

Bordeaux reds, especially those with robust tannins, pair well with semi-hard cheeses like Canalet or Bleu de Termignon. The tannins in red wines harmonize with the creaminess and flavors of these cheeses.

Pairing White Wines

White Bordeaux wines, known for their freshness, complement creamy cheeses such as Gabietou. The acidity in white wines balances the richness of the cheese.

Summary

Often hailed as the wine capital of the world, exploring the cheeses and wineries of Bordeaux offers a magical experience for any budding epicurean. You can expect to sample exceptional reds, whites and rosés in this picturesque region of France.

Seeking the best wine-tasting tours in Bordeaux? Unforgettable Travel offers fantastic gourmet tours which include wine tastings in some of the region’s most incredible vineyards and wineries.

 

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