We’re fortunate to have some new photos, courtesy of Rob Peixoto.
Our Bordeaux Winetrail is a bit different from our other tours. Although we visit vineyards and enjoy wine tastings on most of our tours, in Bordeaux it’s the theme of our week.
So we have a timetable to keep and we visit a lot of vineyards – some of whom we’ve known for years, so it’s like visiting old friends. We get to visit the vines as well as the Caves where the wines are stored. Occasionally we taste wine from the barrel, we enjoy monumental picnics, sometimes in the vineyards, and throughout the course of a week of beautfiful cycling we explore the wines of the world’s most important vineyard.
I’ve chosen 6 photos that fir me illustrate the tour.
Feel free to let me know whether you agree with my selection. Remember you can click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
1. Which way now, Guv?
I like this photo for two reasons. Firstly we’re on our way to one of the most interesting vineyards of any Chain Gang tour, Château Puy Servain. But I like the way it appears that nobody knows where we’re going.
It’s a delicate balance that we try to strike – I don’t like marking out the route, I don’t like having a vehicle with us, and our guides try to cycle at the back of the group to make sure everyone is comfortable. So here you see Pete very casually arriving at the crossroads, and of course he knows perfectly well where he’s going.
2. Working hard, getting fit
One of the highlights of our week exploring Bordeaux is a visit to Chateau du Raux, in the appellation of Haut Médoc. Since we started coming here the vineyard has passed from M. Bernard to his son Patrick, and you’ll see Patrick with his two beautiful children in the collection on Flickr.
They are so welcoming it’s amazing. They set up a picnic table for us, and they bring out bottles of their beautiful wine. Have a careful look at those bottles, no ‘etiquettes’ (labels). I like that.
3. A pipette of vin rouge, please!
This photo is from our final visit of the week, Friday afternoon at Château de By in the Médoc. This was the wine served with the main course at the wedding of Prince Edward and Sophie, Duchess of Wessex. And whatever you think of the UK’s royal family, you can bet they know how to choose a good wine!
Here we had the chance to taste wine directly from the barrel. Wine-making is a long and complex process, and we learn a lot on this trip. It doesn’t taste the same in the barrel as it does in the bottle. It takes amazing skill for the œnologue to predict how a wine will develop. We can all enjoy pretending, but it’s a privilege to have the chance.
4. The perfect companion to a glass of wine – dinner!
My favourite part of any Chain Gang tour is something it’s very difficult to put in a brochure or a website. It’s the special fun we have as a group gets to know each other, while exploring an interesting and beautiful part of France. And that’s what this photo says to me. Nice folks, chilling out and enjoying dinner.
Did you know that during a week of a Chain Gang tour we spend the same amount of time over evening dinners as we do pedalling? So it’s important to get it right, and I love photos like this.
5. St Emilion – cobbles and hills.
St Emilion is a very special place. I often think it suffers because of the stellar reputation of its wines, because if it produced no wine at all, it would be famous as a beautiful medieval town.
It’s not the easiest place to get around, and bike cleats are lethal on these steep cobbled streets. It’s hard enough in ordinary shoes – checkout the handrail going right up the middle of this street!
6. The view from the Tour de By.
Our final view of the week. The Tour de By refers to a large tower in the middle of the vineyard of the Château in the village of By. I don’t know what the original purpose was, but we can climb up it, and there are spectacular views across the vineyards of the médoc and the Gironde.
This photograph was taken through a window at the top of the tower, and you can see the muddy Gironde beyond the vines of the médoc. Sadly, the Gironde is always this colour, it’s a vast muddy estuary that gets stirred up by the tide.