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 list of places to see and experience [again and again] I can't wait to go back. And all not so long ago I had the opportunity to see that desire fulfilled. At the beginning of 2013, I had no idea that I'd be invited to take two different press trips to this fantastic wine region, where "things [honestly] happen on a big scale."

That said, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors [full disclosure] of this trip, Planet Bordeaux and Balzac Communications for your kind invitation to be part of this great adventure into exploration. I'm very excited to share this experience with all you [my readers] via this blog. Thanks to all you for taking the time, to stop by to read my first-hand impressions about this very accessible age-old region.

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, this trip was the capstone of truly memorable wine immersion experiences. But as it's often seen that with great joy, equally great sorrow will sometimes also 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 genuinely 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 that 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 things many folks imagine it to be. From an outsider's perspective, it must seem quite confusing, an old wine region filled with places and names which can be hard to pronounce. Some mistakenly associate Bordeaux with a wine-region full of fancy Chateaux where only the wealthy and famous live lives of unimaginable luxury and opulence and while there may be some truth to those appearances, I found that it's not even close to being the whole story.

Yes, there are many, many Chateaux strewn about the vine-covered countryside, historical, centuries-old buildings that easily predate the existence of the country I live in and are located on extensive properties that 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 a 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 significant endeavor so much easier than in the past, they still hold onto 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 the time we had arrived and was so glad to hear that 'lunch' would be served within 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 fantastic 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 caliber of their wines 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 three different vintages 1966, and 1999 as well as 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 high-quality wines that won't break the bank. These wines retail for $15 to $19 each in the U.S. at most places.

These wines are not supposed 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 their 1966, it's a reminder to all guests of the magnificent aging potential of their Bordeaux Superior.

Their 1999 wow, it wanted to party like it was still 1999. This wine [decanted] had excellent body and depth to it, and smoothly textured; a wine with light tannins and a long finish, tasting of dark plum, underbrush, cassis, licorice, vanilla, and toasty oak in the background. Another incredible blast from their past that I thought had to be from a much more exceptional 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 in my opinion, will only get better with a bit more bottle age. If you have a case or two socked away, you'll 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. I found their wines to be of real substance, wines with a soul which definitely tasted as I expected they would, it said to me this is authentic Bordeaux. There's no mega purple here, no fillers, no just solid well made wines that may not blow your mind, but they will have you believe 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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