As the world’s major wine industry capital, and home to the world’s main wine fair, Vinexpo, it is of little surprise that wine (both red and white) is one of the local specialties, and there are various wine tours available to visit vineyards and enjoy wine tastings. Today the wine economy takes in 14.5billion euros each year, although Bordeaux wine has been produced in the region since the Romans.
Today, Bordeaux has about 116,160 hectares (287,000 acres) of vineyards, 57 appelations, 10,000 wine-producing châteaux and 13,000 grape growers, annually producing approximately 960 million bottles, producing both everyday wines as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world. Amongst the most expensive varieties of wine produced are the area’s five premier cru (first growth) red wines: Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Margaux, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild, all from Médoc, and Château Haut-Brion from Graves. However, Bordeaux does also produce white wines, and a sub-region of Graves, Sauternes, is renowned for its intensely sweet, white, dessert wines such as Château d’Yquem.
Another famous aperitif wine produced in Bordeaux is Lillet, a blend of 85% Bordeaux wines and 15% macerated liquers. Renowned as Hannibal Lecter’s preferred drink in Thomas Harris’ book series, and featured in one of the more recent Bond films, Casino Royale, Lillet is a tonic wine specifically because of the addition of a liquer of cinchona bark from Peru containing quinine. Lillet is matured in oak casks and available in red and white versions, and best served chilled or on ice with a slice of lemon, lime or orange. Although the wine was first produced in the late 19th century, the current formulation dates from 1986, lowering the sugar content, and a visit to its distillery and cellars La maison Lillet in nearby Podensac is recommended.
Whilst the wines of Bordeaux take the limelight and are world-renowned, this is France, and the cuisine is delightful. There are some very French ingredients, such as snails (escargots), oysters and mussels, but the food preparation tends to be more straight-forward than perhaps Parisian style haute-cuisine, though there still tends to be a lot of garlic!
Located close to the Atlantic ocean coastline, you can expect to find an abundance of fish and shellfish, such as mussels, oysters, crabs, shrimps, cockles, clams, scallops and more. However, Bordeaux also favours meat, with entrecote sauce au vin, or entrecote bordelaise, its signature dish, comprising of a rib steak cooked in a rich gravy made from Bordeaux wine, butter, shallots, herbs and bone marrow, and especially tasty when matched with a hearty local red wine.
Other tasty dishes which are highly recommended to try whilst in Bordeaux include:
- Escargots à la Caudéranaise – snails are a well-renowned French speciality, and are other served in a casserole with wine, shallots and country ham;
- Huîtres du Bassin d’Arcachon – another delicacy are oysters, and if you like oysters, then try this dish, served with nice white wines;
- Le grenier médocain – a cold dish from Médoc, of charcuterie based pork belly, garlic and spices;
- Plateau de fruits de mer – a plate of mixed cold local shellfish or seafood;
- La lamproie – lamprey prepared with a sauce of red wine;
- Boeuf Bazadais – beef raised near Bazas;
- Agneau de lait de Pauillac – meat from lambs raised on the salt marshes round Pauillac, and often served with truffles;
- Le Salmis de palombe – pigeon stew;
- Les tricandilles – small grilled tripe, served crispy and seasoned with garlic and parsley
- Les cèpes de Bordeaux – a simple dish consisting of local mushrooms cooked with olive oil, shallot, parsley and garlic;
- Cannelés – when in France, there's a rule of thumb: always try the pastries - and these are a local speciality of caramelised, brioche-style pastries;
- Noisettines du Médoc – a Médoc sweet of roasted hazelnuts rolled in sugar.
More general regional specialties also include foie gras, confit de canard and eclade – mussels cooked on the beach, by placing mussels on a water-soaked board and heaped with pine needles or hay then set on fire; when the fire is doused tasty hot mussels are ready for eating!
If you are interested in visiting Bordeaux and sampling its cuisine for yourself, why not contact one of our dedicated travel specialists today on 01234 819 699?
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