dsc_0007.JPGI popped into Bordeaux today…I had to go down there to drop my folks off at the airport so took the opportunity to drive into the city centre.  I should really do so more often – it’s such a charming place.  The centre’s very compact so you can get around on foot easily, though there is a fantastic new tram system which is being extended everywhere judging by the amount of roads being dug up to make way for tram tracks.  I parked underground near the Place de Tourny…I didn’t really know where that was until I popped up by a beautiful old carousel and recognised the café where Michelle and I had enjoyed a lovely lunch with my old mate Woody on our first visit to Bordeaux.  Which was nice.  Given this new blog, I was also pleased to see that the café in question sat right next door to the Vinoteque Bordeaux wine merchants, which I resolved to pop into after a spot of lunch and a wander around…after all, I had 50 euros from Mr James Warren burning a hole in my pocket.

Obviously, the production side of the Bordeaux wine industry takes place in the surrounding countryside – up the Medoc to the north and a great swathe of land stretching from due east to due south.  Surprisingly, however, there are a small number of vineyards in the city itself (these being part of the Pessac appellation contrôlée) not quite the centre, but it’s still slightly incongruous to find yourself popping out of an built-up suburb on your way to “Centre Ville” and suddenly find yourself surrounded by vines!  The city’s wine merchants (of which there are many) take full advantage of their position, however, and fill their windows with genuinely mouthwatering displays. 

I spent a very enjoyable hour or two wandering the beautiful backstreets, finding quiet little squares and taking a few pictures (which you can see here).  I eventually wound my way back to the Vinoteque Bordeaux and, after a quick coffee next door, popped in for a look around.    Mind-blowing stuff!  I was obviously expecting there to be a wide selection, but the sheer number of châteaux represented mashed the brain a little.  I had also expected all of the wine to be top quality, and was surprised to see as much bog-standard, 5 euros a bottle Bordeaux represented as Grand Cru Classé. 

As I mentioned, I had 50 euros from James in my pocket (his entirely unnecessary petrol money from the previous day that he’d hidden in the car!) and had decided to blow the lot on a single bottle which I would keep for the next Warren family visit in the summer.  The only thing was, I’d forgotten to bring Oz along (as in the Oz Clarke Bordeaux book) and, after 15 minutes of browsing, decided that I could risk an ill-informed purchase.  Not only that, but I recognised a wine that James and I had seen from the E.Leclerc supermarket in Jonzac a few days previously – a 2004 Château Clerc Milon (very distinctive label) – which I’m sure was priced at around 28 euros a bottle in the supermarket but which was priced at 33 euros in Vinoteque, so it made me think that better value might be had in a decent wine section of a large supermarket (James, if you read this perhaps you could confirm or correct?).  Still, it was a lovely place to spend a little while!  So, my trip to Bordeaux ended with me more enthused about my new hobby than ever before, though with an odd feeling that things might start to get a bit expensive…