This is the third in our series about AmaWaterway’s Taste of Bordeaux river cruise where we focus on the Medoc region of France. Here’s the initial entry.
In the morning we sail from Bordeaux to Pauillac in the Médoc region. Dave works out in the morning – the fitness room is small but functional. The cruise manager gives a lecture on France. It’s both interesting and entertaining. Elia is French but now lives in Germany so her perspective is unique. She never misses an opportunity to make fun of Parisians (driving, attitude, work/life balance) for example.
Wine: old and new
We also have the first of three on board wine tastings run by the wine hostess, a vintner from California. Shawna Rosenbluth compared old world (French) Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vs new world (California). Unfortunately the old world wines were both 2016 vintage – meaning they were way too young to be sampled. But you could definitely tell the difference – the French wines were much more acidic and flat while the California wines had much more fruity nose and taste. The California wines were about 15% alcohol while the French are consistently at 13%. But it was fun to try them both side to side. Shawna did a great job – she was engaging, fun and informative.
Famous Châteaux of Medoc
After lunch we went on a wine tasting excursion in the Medoc. The Medoc is a region surrounded by water – the Atlantic on one west, the Estuary to the north and east. Originally it was salt marsh until the Dutch drained the Medoc in the middle ages. It’s become one of the premier wine growing areas in the world. We are on the left bank of the estuary. This is the land of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Latour.
After a nice drive through the countryside we arrive at Chateau Margaux where we tour the grounds. This is one of the infamous chateaux in the world, producing very expensive bottles. It is not open for tours or tasting but the estate is beautiful and the Chateau has an interesting back story. For more information, click here. http://www.chateau-margaux.com/en/
After a short drive we arrived at Chateau Leoville-Poyferre. Here we toured the facility, including a beautiful barrel aging room. This was a very modern facility which includes an optical scanner. This ensures that the right size and shape grape is used for production at very high rates. We sampled four separate wines Chateaux Leoville Poyferre 2012 and 2000, Chateau Moulin Riche 2011 and 2010.
After dinner we listen to La Strada. A version of this group appears on every AmaWaterway’s cruise in Europe. The group consists of three young string players performing classical and “near classical” music. IN this case it was two violins and a guitar. These are young passionate players who sound fantastic. Unfortunately, there was a lot of background conversation going on during their performance from those at the bar – but overall it was really a great performance.
Driving through the French countryside looking at the fabulous Chateau’s, we couldn’t help but think about the bourgeoisie and how the French revolution started. These were houses of great wealth employing thousands of migrant workers to pick and process the grapes. And while the prosperity from the wine helped raise the living standards of the entire region, it’s clear a small minority profited most. The makings of the bourgeois.
For us the night ended listening to La Strada – classical music played by young musicians. The young embracing the old? No, we think it’s more like the young acknowledging the past, and moving on, well on to the future. Californian, South African, Australian wines have taken significant market share away from the Bordeaux wines. Perhaps a little competition will help keep the bourgeoisie in check.