June is the perfect month for spending a few days in Bordeaux. Set in the French province of Aquitaine this city, that looks out over the Atlantic, is celebrated for the wines that are named after it.
Bordeaux has more to offer than just fascinating walks through its old town (recognized by UNESCO in 2007 as a World Heritage Site), or visits to the wineries in the surrounding area, it is also host to these two interesting events.
To start with, on the first of June, Bordeaux celebrates the opening ceremony of the Cité du Vin. This a multifunctional structure boasts 10 floors (13,000 sq.m. of space in total) entirely devoted to the subject of wine.
Inside the structure are permanent exhibitions subdivided into 19 themed modules; a journey designed to allow the visitor the freedom and independence to enjoy the subjects that most interest them at their own pace. The multimedia animated presentations and an audio guide (available in eight languages including English) cover the history of wine production, in space and time, in an enjoyable and engaging manner, transmitting in-depth knowledge about the various phases in the process of wine-making.
The multi-discipline approach includes everything from archeology, anthropology and the roles of art and food.
Throughout the year, the Cité du Vin offers a lively program of encounters, debates, film screenings and furthermore, a series of temporary exhibitions designed to explore the relationship between wine and photography, design, sculpture, ethnography and even cartoons.
This enormous building is surrounded by gardens and houses three wine tasting areas, a library open to the public, a shop and three restaurants.
The life force of the building is, however, its cellar, where 14,000 bottles from over 80 countries are stored.
Finally, the Bordeaux Wine Festival is held from the 23rd to the 26th June, on the left bank of the Garonna (the river that bisects the city).
Along its two kilometer route wines from 80 different appellations can be sampled. There are wine tasting workshops, the region’s typical products to discover and a series of events including the evening concerts on the Esplanade des Quinconces, sound and light shows at the Palaisde la Bourse and fireworks over the river.
The essentials about Bordeaux wine:
- The predominant red varieties in the region are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The lesser varieties are Petit Verdot and Carmenère;
- White Bordeaux is the result of a blend between Sémillion and Sauvignon. The use of Muscadelle Ugni Blanc and Colombard is also permitted;
- The Bordeaux region is renowned also for its production of sweet wines, the most celebrated of these is the Sauternes, which is principally made up with the Sémillion variety. In autumn the grapes are infested by a fungus called Botrytis cinerea which increases the concentrations of sugars in the grapes, altering and distinguishing the final flavor of the wine.