Wine Weekend in Bordeaux
Our European travels slowed down over winter, so Josh was feeling antsy to get out of London. Last Monday we found cheap flights to Bordeaux, so we decided to take a spontaneous trip for a weekend of vineyard tours and wine tasting. Bordeaux made for the perfect weekend getaway, giving us a much-needed mental break from work and London, and transporting us to a totally different world. Two days was just enough time to experience a taste of what the region has to offer—beautiful scenery, a relaxed atmosphere and of course, delicious wine.
Friday 31 March
When we arrived at the Bordeaux airport, we took the city bus for €1.50 each to get to the city center. It took about an hour to get to our Airbnb, which was right by the Place de Grands. It was within walking distance of the old historic center of the city, which was perfect, and although we typically prefer hotels, there were more affordable options on Airbnb. It was clean, modern and reasonably priced, so it was perfect for a quick weekend trip.
19 Rue des Bahutiers, 33000 Bordeaux
We were pretty hungry by the time we arrived in Bordeaux, so we stopped for a quick street kebab, a staple of our European travels. It helped tide us over so we could enjoy leisurely wine and tapas at Le Wine Bar. It’s a tiny wine bar with delicious Italian tapas and wines from around the world. We particularly appreciated the Shania Twain playlist. Bookings are recommended, as it filled up by 8pm.
3 Cours du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux
From Le Wine Bar, we walked along the river and enjoyed the beautiful views of the city as the sun went down. Our next stop was a totally different atmosphere—a wine bar in a beautiful 18th century building with modern décor and furnishings. All of the wines were from Bordeaux, and the prices were really reasonable. It’s a beautiful space and well worth a stop.
There weren’t too many places open early for breakfast, so we picked an unmemorable spot near the visitors’ center, since that was the meeting spot for our wine tour. There are several wine tour companies that operate out of Bordeaux and offer similar packages.
We chose a full day tour with Ophorus wines that visited Saint Emilion and Pomerol and were really happy with our experience. The group could have been up to eight people, but we were lucky that it was just us and one other couple. Since we didn’t do much advance research, it was great to be with a guided tour and to have the work done for us. Our guide, Emily was wonderful, and we visited three very different chateaus and learned a lot about the region, wine-making and the classification system (and of course drank a lot of wine too!).
Our first stop was a family owned Grand Cru Classé vineyard and winery. Their wine cellar is in an old limestone quarry. All of the buildings in Bordeaux’s city center are made of limestone, and it was interesting to see how they used to dig out the stones. The tour offered a brief overview of traditional wine making and two on-site tastings. They are a very traditional old-fashioned winery, which also has a bed and breakfast. Everything was great, except for Becca getting locked in to the bathroom.
Château La Gaffelière
The next stop was a Premier Grand Cru Classé château also in Saint Emilion. Our tour here offered a much more in-depth explanation of wine-making, and they had brand new high-tech equipment, making it really different from the first stop. Our guide, Hugo was fantastic and gave really detailed explanations of some of the complexities that impact the wine. We had our tastings at their wine shop in town, and got to try four different wines and a cognac.
Saint Emilion is a tiny, picturesque medieval town surrounded by vineyards and wineries. We enjoyed some free time to walk around explore the 40+ wine shops and have lunch. Our guide recommended the macarons at Ferlion-Macarons SARL. While we’re not typically macaron people, we were so glad we took her advice because these were delicious. They weren’t the colorful flavored ones we typically see, but rather just the natural almond flavor.
Château de Sales
Our last stop of the day was in a different region called Pomerol, and this château had the biggest distribution of the three. There were beautiful gardens on site and and part of the family still lives there. It was a much shorter tour, which we were happy about since we were tired after lunch and all the wine, the only downside was that the tasting was a bit rushed. On our way back to Bordeaux, we got to test our sense of smell and practice our wine nose using essential oils. It’s safe to say we need some practice.
10 Rue des Bahutiers, 33000 Bordeaux
After relaxing at our Airbnb, we went out to this tiny wine bar in town and were lucky to get one of six tables. We shared a delicious cheese board and enjoyed some more local wine, feeling slightly more knowledgeable than yesterday. The owners were friendly and had excellent taste in music as well, making it a perfect spot to start the night.
31 Cours Georges Clemenceau, 33000 Bordeaux
Our Airbnb host recommended an Italian restaurant nearby, and we knew they didn’t take bookings and we’d have to wait. We didn’t expect the line to take 40 minutes, and with a line that long we also didn’t expect to be so disappointed in our meal.
Marché des Quais
When we woke up, we walkedup along the river to the farmers market, where we got the most delicious orange juice and bakery treats for breakfast. We continued walking up the promenade by the river, and sat outside for coffee, enjoying the sunshine.
We had planned to do this self-guided walking tour but realized we had seen most of the sites already, so we scrapped the tour part and just wandered town bit until lunch.
37 Rue Saint-Rémi, 33000 Bordeaux
We were tired of French food, so for our last meal we went to this small Japanese noodle bar and had our best meal of the trip. The menu was simple, but the noodles were fresh and flavorful.
On every trip we share our rose (highlight), thorn (lowlight), and bud (what we're looking forward to).
Rose- second winery (Josh), limestone quarry/ wine cellar (Becca)
Thorn- dinner on Saturday (Josh), rain (Becca)
Bud- skiing over Easter (Josh), beach in Lanzarote (Becca)
If you go, things to know…
How long to spend? A weekend was perfect for us, since we got to do a full day of vineyard tours. If you’re really into wine you could easily spend days touring different parts of the region. We only got to see right bank vineyards, and apparently the left bank is a totally different experience that many people also enjoy.
Where to stay? Since we booked the trip so last minute, we stayed in the city of Bordeaux because it felt like the simplest option. If we were doing it again, we would recommend renting a car and staying at a château with a bed and breakfast. With a car, you can do your own wine tour and still pop over to the city of Bordeaux for an afternoon, which is all it really needs.
What else is there to do? Wine wine and more wine! There are a couple of museums dedicated to wine, but we prefer an experiential approach.
What is a château? We weren’t totally sure before we got there, and while the word translates to “castle,” it’s the term used for all of the vineyards and wineries in the area. Many of them also have B&Bs, making them picturesque places to stay.