Friday, 29 August 2014

Côtes de Bourg

Have you heard of the Côtes de Bourg? Well of course you should have if you read my previous blog! Joking aside unless you are a Bordeaux wine aficionado or have maybe visited the area I doubt it. In fact the Côtes de Bourg is one of the 54 appellations of Bordeaux and possibly one of it's least well known.

It is situated 35 km (22 miles) to the north of Bordeaux on the 'right bank'. In this case right bank means to the east of the Gironde estuary, whereas 'left bank' means to the west. This is actually an important distinction because due to the soil and climate, or 'terroir' as the French like to call it the 'right bank' tends to be Merlot dominated and the 'left' Cabernet Sauvignon.

Trans-Gironde ferry to the Medoc
I holidayed in the area in July and was absolutely fascinated by the wine production there and it's neighbouring appellation the Côtes de Blaye. This area is certainly not one of the glamour parts of the region like the Haut-Medoc or St Emilion. More a workaday region producing wines mostly drunk locally and by the tourists that pass by. The towns of Blaye and Bourg are lovely places to stay and if you want to go and visit the more prestigious wine places St Emilion is just over an hour away by car (We did) and the Haut-Medoc even closer if you catch the Trans-Gironde ferry (We also did) which departs right from the centre of Blaye.

The Côtes de Bourg styles itself 'The Spicy Side of Bordeaux'. Not entirely sure how true that is, after all we are talking mostly Merlot here not spicy Syrah. However the wines do have a slightly more tannic bite.

But it is the scale of production that I want to get across to you. When driving around the area the vineyards seem to go for mile after mile after mile (sorry kilometer, we are in France after all). The total area under vine is just under 4000 hectares producing. The famous Napa Valley of California has only 17,000 hectares of vines and Marlborough in New Zealand 22,000. Not that small then for a region you've never heard of and the wines virtually never come to the UK or much beyond French borders. 85% is sold in France.

Mere statistics do not tell the whole story though. Wine is such a way of life in France that when visiting a wine producing area you cannot escape the seductiveness of it. We visited the small town of Bourg, took lunch, and then visited the Maison du Vin. Most towns in the area have these. These, literally, 'houses of wine' showcase all of the local wines and very often beautifully presented.

 And finally we come to the best thing of all, the wines are so reasonable to buy. Of 134 wines available 91 were under 10 (£8 or $13) many around 6. And remember these 134 wines come from an area that is small outpost of the whole Bordeaux wine spectrum.

Maison du Vin - Bourg

 The following photos were all taken inside the 'Maison du Vin- Bourg'

As you can see from the photographs the Maison was beautiful inside and a pleasure just to wander around admiring the bottles. I should say it was also nice and cool inside on a scorching hot day! More information about the Côtes de Bourg can be found at the tourism website

Next time I shall be recalling my visit to the Chateau Monconseil-Gazin vineyard in the nearby Côtes de Blaye.

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Until next time. Enjoy your wine.

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