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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Do You know the Way to Bordeaux?

“I’m not sure what I'll do, but— well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale.”― F. Scott Fitzgerald

A visit to Bordeaux had been and is still high on my lists of places to see and experience [again and again] I can't wait to go back. And last  year my I had the opportunity to see that desire fulfilled. At the beginning of last year I had no idea that I'd be invited to take two different press trips to this amazing wine region, where "things [truly] happen on a big scale".  

That said, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors of this trip, Planet Bordeaux and Balzac Communications for your kind invitation to be part of this great adventure into exploration and the amazing opportunity I have to now share this experience with all you [my readers] via this blog. 

To say I was ecstatic would be a vast understatement of epic proportions. I'm happy to say it was and is still one of the very best memories from last year, the proverbial capstone of memorable events. But as it's often seen that with great joy, an equally great sorrow will sometimes come along for the ride, some might call this irony. 

Although an opportunity to visit Bordeaux was high on my list, of wine destinations to visit and it was ultimately granted, it was also a very tough year for me personally. It was the year [2013] I lost both of my parents and the pain of that loss is still very real and hard for me to fully grasp. I miss them both very much and the stamp of exploration they both imbued upon me at an early age, is something which still lives within me to this day. I just can't stop exploring, there's far too much to see, to do and to know before my own time on this mortal coil comes to an end. 

Now with that said, let me ask do you know the way to Bordeaux? It's too easy to get lost in the perception of 'Bordeaux' and all the thing many folks imagine it to be. From an outsider perspective, it must seem quite confusing, a old wine region filled with places and names which can be hard to pronounce, full of fancy Chateaux where only the rich and famous live lives of unimaginable luxury and opulence and while some that may be true to some extent, it's not even close to being the whole story

Yes, there are many, many Chateaux strewn about the vine-covered countryside, historic centuries old buildings which easily predate the existence of the country I live in and are located on massive properties which are often handed down from one generation to the next. But again that is not the whole story. 

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” – Aldous Huxley 

As I've stated before, there are real people behind those beautifully sculpted buildings; something I think many folks seem to forget, perhaps bogged down by the weight of perception. Marc Milhade [his sister is seen to his left] the Son of Xavier Milhade, explained to us that life on a Chateau is one that is similar to anyone else running a winery or family business, whether that business is here in the Napa Valley or on the ancient vine-lands of Bordeaux. 

When they say it's family run business they really mean it, it's all hands on deck. On the day we arrive, the sights and sounds of harvest were well underway, it was a hot and very humid harvest [October 2013] the day, when Marc [who you see above] showed up still wearing his crush-pad boots to greet us and welcome us to Chateau Recougne. 

So you want to see these machines in action? Check out the video here.

He went on to briefly explain that while they do embrace the present, its technology and the ability manage such a large endeavor so much easier than in the past, they still hold unto some of the elements of the past, weaving them together to make a bright new future for the next generation. 

Our meeting with them was fascinating, insightful and also very delightful. I was ravenously hungry by time we had arrived and was so glad to hear that 'lunch' would be served with in moments of our arrival. The setting you see pictured below, set the stage for a lunchtime feast I won't forget anytime soon. 
One of the most amazing wine discoveries came the day our team [myself and two other bloggers] visited Chateau Recougne, it was also one of the very best dining experiences I had while I was in France [mind blowing really]. Robert Parker at one time called Chateau Recougne one of the finest of all Bordeaux Superieur [personally I think it still is]. 

It is an estate that has produced wine for over 400 years, and its name is said to have come from King Henri IV in the early 17th century, in "recognition" of the quality of its wine. It would appear that even then, their wines were very well regarded not only for the quality, but for their inexpensive prices. So in drinking their wines it would be safe to say you can actually drink like a king.

Their vineyards [which surround the Chateau and the Crush Pad] were classified under the Fronsac Appellation back in the day, where Merlot is the majority planting taking up 75% of planted vineyard space. Merlot also happens to be very well suited to the terroir, which is then complemented by both Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (10%). 

As you can see from the picture above we tasted the 1966, and the 1999 as well as the 2010 [not pictured]. Folks, you may not believe but look closely they have not changed the label too much in all those years. They also have not changed the recipe for producing uber high quality wines that won't break the bank. These wines sell for $15 to $19 each most places. 

These wines are not suppose to age well if you listen to the so-called experts who purport to know all and see all in the wine world. But I'm here to tell you that they're dead wrong. The bottle from 1966, a 47 year old bottle had aged amazingly well, I was blown away by the depth and polish this wine was still displaying. While you can no longer purchase the 1966, it's a reminder to all guest of the great aging potential of their Bordeaux Superior.

The 1999 wow, it wanted to party like it was still 1999. This wine [decanted] still had nice body to it, and smoothly textured; a wine with light tannin and a long finish, tasting of dark plum, under brush, cassis, licorice, vanilla, and toasty oak in the background. Another amazing blast from their past, that I thought had to be from a much finer pedigreed background, but no a Bordeaux Superior drinking like Grand Cru Classe [no I'm not kidding]. 

Their 2010, uh I'd grab all you can and then grab some more because it's off the charts good [to great] and will only get better with some more bottle age. If you have a case or two socked away, you'll will thank me later because it's that amazing. 

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. ~Leonard Cohen

Folks, if you've not encountered their wines before [and to be honest I've never had until that day] you owe to yourself to give their wines a swirl at your earliest convenience. These are wines of real substance, wines with a soul that definitely taste like the region they come from, there's no mega purple here, no fillers just solid well made wines that may not blow your mind, but they will having you believing you really are drinking like a king for a pauper's price [don't doubt me]. So until next folks remember life is far too short to drink insipid commodity wines, please don't settle, expand your vinous horizons and as always please remember to sip long and prosper cheers!

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