Bordeaux Wine and History

Bordeaux is a city in South-West France, capital of the Aquitaine region and the department of Gironde. It's crossed by the River Garonne, and it's the place where you'll meet the Bordelais! Of historical interest is the fact that Bordeaux actually belonged to the English from the 12th century and for the following three hundred years, due to the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former wife of the King of France. During the following years, the city became increasingly prosperous due its emerging commerce with England. Its second burst of prosperity came in the 17th century due to the development of its port for international trade. Being located on a line dividing northern and southern France, climatically Bordeaux is a bit of a crossover point.

The city also exudes a sort of composure or elegance, arising from its previous English domination. Bordeaux is clearly a professional town with regular trade around the world, particularly the ports of Holland. The architecture itself highlights this with its regular classical style and numerous castles made of a typical white stone. But that's not all there is to Bordeaux. beneath the sophisticated surface of professionalism lies a heart which beats to a rhythm altogether different. a Latin tempo.

Doubtless this is due to its close proximity to Spain. And in this lies the other side of Bordeaux one given over to festivals and all manner of frivolity. You've been warned! Bordeaux's climate is of the Oceanic type, showing little marked difference between summer and winter. Winters are very mild and summers are hot. But you will also encounter rain throughout most of the year. Recently the city underwent a period of extreme dryness during the years 2002-2005.

The greater part of Bordeaux is situated on the left bank of the River Garonne. This comprises chiefly wide and marsh plains. There are some hilly areas, but in the main they are low. Nevertheless, they are ideal for vine growing, and here we encounter the famous Grave and Medoc varieties of wine.

On the right bank of the River Garonne, the situation is quite different, since the earth is made up almost exclusively from chalk. It's here on the right bank that many of the most famous wines in the world have their origin. Here you will find vineyards bearing the almost mythical names such as Fronsac, Pomerol and Saint Emilion. Such wines are justifiably famous around the world, and they possess price tags to prove it! Without a shadow of doubt, Bordeaux is the world wine capital.

In this region, a single wine grower, or viticulteur, will produce several different wines, with several of these being amongst the most renowned in the world. These are identified specifically as "Vins de Bordeaux". Indeed around the Bordeaux region itself there are no fewer than 14000 local wine producers, some quite small. But collectively, these vineyards account for about 700 million bottles annually. Bordeaux wines are both white and red, with the famous red giving its name to the color known as Bordeaux, after the distinctive color of the wine. And as for the local Bordeaux cuisine? Indeed Bordeaux cuisine, as the cuisine of the whole of the Gironde department, is justly celebrated throughout the country as one of the finrest local French cuisines.

You won't have to go far without savouring the delights of well-known regional dishes such as the local wood pigeon speciality, palombe, or dishes made from the equally famous cepe mushroom. Then of course there are the famous shallot sauces. All of this, obviously, needing to be accompanied by a fine Bordeaux wine! And then of course there's the famous "canele" cake, a Bordeaux speciality made of tender pastry, with a lacing of vanilla and rum, finally covered with a thick caramelised crust. In fact this Bordeaux delicacy was the recipe of some sixteenth century nuns who used to make them to give to the poor of the town. But don't let that put you off. they are far from poor and most exotic.

perfect when accompanied by a fine white wine, such as a Saint Emilion! But be careful, they are known to soften quickly after baking. don't worry simply put back in the oven and in a few minutes time they'll recover their famous crustyness! Another unforgettable encounter in Bordeaux is with the "lamproie" (lamprey, in English), a very unusual fish. This fish possesses neither scales, nor jaws, nor bony backbone. You could compare it with a large eel. And don't forget "la sauce d'escargots" (snail sauce), known jokingly as the "Bordeaux truffle", which includes chocolate, grape and alcohol. Not to mention the famous Tome d'Aquitaine, a goat's cheese refined with a Sauterne wine, and the delicious "foie gras".

And with that, we wish you an unforgettable and delicious time, as you eat your way around the Gironde and the famous city of Bordeaux, no doubt in the company of many colourful Bordelais characters! This is Southern France at its finest!.

For further information on France, the French lifestyle and Brussels in French, please visit Rencontres Bruxelles at Antonio Bonito's rencontres coquines web site.

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