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Bordeaux is renowned for its roster of wines and, with the region’s vibrant cultural scene, why should you enjoy the classic tipple on its own? There’s a host of festivals, events and venues where you can celebrate wine alongside great music, food, art and even ‘sport’.
With a wine tasting pavilion stretching over two kilometres along the banks of the Garonne river, the Bordeaux Wine Festival will definitely have a bottle to satisfy any attendee. The event also presents an array of what the region has to offer as well as featuring a catalogue of music events. Running every other year, the festival’s past music shows have included classical performances by the Bordeaux Symphony Orchestra and, reaching further afield, contemporary acts from around the world have been invited to perform as a complement to wines from their country of origin.
For an independent and intimate experience in Bordeaux, Festival Vie Sauvage in Bourg (Gironde) is an eclectic, niche event which is closely aligned with the nearby vineyard at Château La Croix-Davids. First run in 2012, the yearly event is a vibrant mix of rock, folk, pop electronica and more, at a bash that positions itself as an alternative to the blandness of the traditional festival circuit. Vie Sauvage is at the forefront of ‘cool’ Bordeaux and wine is available, of course!
Many of the Châteaux in Bordeaux open their doors for wine tasting, and they also invite guests to view their impressive art collections. The most literal pairing is the Museum of Wine in Art at Mouton Rothschild which has one of the finest collections of wine-related artefacts in the world. Exhibited in a former barrel hall, the collection boasts works from 17th-century gold and silverware, to medieval tapestries as well as a collection of Mouton Rothschild labels (each vintage has a unique design and artists have included Picasso, Chagall, Warhol, Dali and Prince Charles).
For contemporary art in Bordeaux, Château Lynch-Bages has been exhibiting the work of renowned artists annually since 1989. Held in the cellars and old vat-house of the Château, the exhibition has gradually evolved as each year an artist is commissioned to create an original work. Over time, the exhibition has displayed work from artists including Jean Le Gac, Manuel Arroyo, Sandro Chia, Titus Carmel, Donald Lipski, Jiri Kolar, Donald Sultan, Lourdes Castro and Tan Swie Hian.
Exploring every aspect of the visual pairing and beyond is Bordeaux’s very own wine museum, La Cité du Vin. Billed as Bordeaux’s answer to the Sydney Opera House and Bilbao’s Guggenheim, the museum’s architecture is a statement in its own right, while inside, it also offers a range of experiences, international exhibitions and a permanent collection. Finish off your visit by heading to the Belvedere on the eighth floor to be impressed by panoramic views of Bordeaux and the Garonne River.
There’s an endless list of wineries in Bordeaux that offer gastronomic experiences. One delicious example is Château Ambe Tour Pourret. Set in a building that dates back to 1811, the Château offers wine tastings, alongside lunches and picnics, as well as cooking classes focused on pairings of regional food with the Château’s selection of wines. There’s also a dedicated cheese bar, and a chocolate with wine pairing experience in addition to a choice of self-guided or private tours.
With so many Châteaux to choose from, a great way to take in the produce of several in a weekend is to plan a visit during the Sauternes and Barsac wine open door event. Over 50 Châteaux on the ‘Road of Aromas’ invite the public to sample their wine, and they also provide gastronomic delights alongside entertainment. The trail flows around the charming countryside of the area and, for the more energetic, some routes are designed specifically for cycling.
A strong argument for wine being paired with absolutely everything in Bordeaux is the Médoc Marathon which combines a gruelling race with stops at ‘refreshment’ stands populated with wine and gourmet food. Participants are encouraged to wear fancy dress, eat, and drink wine on their way around the course that takes in over 50 vineyards. Even if you do not plan on running, it’s a great event to visit as a spectator to take in the atmosphere and excellent produce.