When tasting our way around Spain, we had to rely on public transport to get us from city to city. Here in France our little car has become our home and the third member of our travelling team. It facilitates whimsical stops in tiny untouched villages and gives us the opportunity to see the thick of the French countryside at its best. We made the most out of our private transport and the sunshine when driving from Sarlat to Bordeaux through miles and miles of vines. Surrounded by rows and rows of grapes, we decided to stop off at various points to experience the various stages of wine making.
Our first stop was Monbazillac. After driving through the sea of vines on all sides, we stumbled upon some roadside grape pickers. Slowing the car down to tortoise pace, we crawled along to have a peek at the tons of grapes being loaded onto a huge truck. The men were very friendly, smiling and waving at the car with it’s giant GB sticker, and we very nearly stopped to ask if we could watch. In fact, we went back later to try and find them but they had unfortunately moved on!
The grapes that these workers were picking were not your everyday ripe pretty grape, yet late harvested Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle varieties which are allowed to form ‘noble rot’ on the vine, producing a much sweeter wine. On we pottered to the Chateau de Monbazillac where we had a very informed tasting. Far from wine connoisseurs, we were stunned at how dramatically the taste is altered with the three different sugar levels. We went for a bottle of the 2009, medium sweet, which we later drank as an appetiser with Saunt Maure goats cheese. This pairing is without a doubt one of the best I have experienced, the sweet golden wine balancing the creamy salty cheese. Absolute heaven!!
Final detour before arriving in Bordeaux was one of the region’s most prestigious wine producers… The beautifully picturesque town of St. Emilion that rises up from the vast sea of surrounding vines. Bounding down the steep cobbled streets we passed wine shop after wine shop stuffed full with grand bottles. We saved our tasting until Bordeaux where we were staying with a wine enthusiast! We did stop off at the Maison des Vins where we had an interactive tour guessing the scents of various aromas!
Then we bundled ourselves back into the car and finally headed on to our final destination (for now!)… Bordeaux…