Bordeaux – 10 Essentials in the Wine Capital
22 April, 2015
Scarcely an hour’s flight away from Barcelona, Bordeaux is the perfect spot for a short getaway. This is an “easy” city to visit – it’s small, pedestrianised centre invites you to stroll among its stone buildings which exude the same leisurely character as its inhabitants. Well-pleased with its wines, its new Herzog & de Meuron stadium, its future venue as the City of Wine Civilizations and the advent of Joël Robuchon (with his 26 Michelin stars, next after La Grande Maison), Bordeaux gives off its touristic charm nonchalantly, in its defining elegant, bourgeois fashion. Here are some gourmet guide pointers:
1. L’Intendant – A Stunning Wine Shop
Four storeys linked by an architectural spiral staircase houses some 15,000 bottles and 600 epitomes of Bordeaux wine. The ground floor contains the labels of small producers, while the most expensive ones are accommodated on the top floor. The dearest of all – Yquem, at €6,000. Here are some good wines for far less – just allow yourself to be guided by the experts.
2. Taste Initiation at Le Boutique Hotel Wine Bar
The bar à vins (wine bar) at this charming, 27-room hotel offers excellent tastings for venturing into the world of French wines, and their sommelier, Martín Santander, speaks Spanish to wit. His “Tour de France” blind wine tasting features five bottles, prompting guests to ascertain the different French types and varieties. This is the only venue in the city that specialises in natural wines.
3. Where to Have Some Wine – the CIVBBar à Vins
The headquarters of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux boasts a wonderful wine bar. The bar counter dates from the 19th century and the stained-glass windows from the 20th, while the design is 21st century. You can only order wine by the glass from the wine list, at very reasonable prices – most average between €2 and €3.50, with the odd €8 option from among the Grand Cru.
4. Alliance in a Fashionable Restaurant – Garopapilles
Designer wines and cuisine in one. The chef, Tanguy Laviale, and the wine connoisseur, Gaël Morand, hold out promise of a great experience in this pretty locale, where food and drink form an inseparable tandem. The wine bar is in the entrance, while the intimate, magical restaurant is concealed at the back. In a sole, surprise, deftly combined tasting menu, the chef deploys his imagination in dishes such as foie gras on a bed of cabbage and shiitake, or velvet crab consommé. Highly recommendable haute cuisine sans tablecloth. The menu, without wine, works out at €32 at lunchtime and €62 for dinner.
5. The Best Fish – Le Petit Commerce
A fish restaurant and genuine bistro, unpretentious but with the sort of French charm that captivates. What’s more, here the lunch menu costs just €14. The cuisine of the restauranteur, Fabien Touraille, has become so popular that, with his three restaurants, he’s taken over Parlament Saint Pierre street. His goal – to popularise fish; his fish is even good on Mondays.
6. Hipster Organics – Darwin
These once derelict barracks have been transformed into a top-notch complex of sustainable, creative co-working firms, a large organic restaurant, a sports centre and soon… an eco-lodge.
7. Tempting Chocolateries – Saunion, Cadiot-Badie, La Maison Darricau
It is worth visiting at least these three vintage localities for their great chocolatier tradition – at Saunion, do try Le Gallien (caramel and praliné) and the Guinettes (fresh cherries with alcohol syrup and fondant). A speciality of Cadiot-Badie is Le Diamant Noir (grape ganache), in addition to chocolate shoes and wine bottles which make the perfect souvenir. At La Maison Darricau, don’t miss out on the Pavé (praliné, wine, sugar and cinnamon).
8. The Canelé Tradition – Baillardran
A typically Bordelais confectionery made of flour, egg yolk and vanilla which is crunchy on the outside and smooth inside. The Baillardran chain, which you’ll come across everywhere, makes them on a daily basis.
9. Hotel, Drinks and Brunch – Mamma Shelter
The affordable design chain, which has the famous Philippe Starck as a partner, features a hotel in the centre of Bordeaux. An excellent choice for accommodation; otherwise, at least drop in and have a drink in this locale at night, or brunch on Sunday – it is very cool and all the rage. Rooms from €69.
10. Street Food – Chartrons Market
This open-air market is held every Sunday on the banks of the Garonne. You have a large choice of food stalls where you can have a casual meal. Our favourite were the oyster stalls, where the price was €6.50 for half a dozen oysters.
The Bordeaux Tourist Office organises excursions to some of the quaint viticultural châteaux, as well as other activities.
Come and discover Bordeaux for yourself! Check out our flights here.
Text by Isabel Loscertales / Gastronomistas
Photos by Isabel Loscertales / Gastronomistas
22 April, 2015