Countdown to Bordeaux: The 2016 Rusty Grape Vineyards river cruise
This time next Saturday (factoring in the nine hour time difference) I’ll be dining with other guests aboard the Viking Forseti as we anticipate a week-long journey along the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers in the heart of the famed Bordeaux wine region.
Along with owners, Jeremy and Heather Brown, I am one of 24 passengers fortunate enough to be a part of this inaugural Rusty Grape Vineyard group (Heather and cruise planner, Lori Nelson, are already mapping out their 2017 river cruise but that’s another story for another day).
Over the course of eight days we’ll have an intimate look into some of the picturesque villages that dot the banks of these two rivers which meet up to form the Gironde estuary before heading out to the Atlantic Ocean. As such, its maritime influence is the ideal climate for wines simply known in this region as Bordeaux.
For those who are unfamiliar with what grapes go into a bottle of Bordeaux or Bordeaux-style wines, allow me to demystify the generalization. Merlot dominates the Right Bank (aka la Rive Droite) while Cabernet Sauvignon is king on the Left Bank (aka la Rive Gauche). As in America, these two wines benefit from one another when blended together—a prime example of synergy.
Cabernet Sauvignon’s high acid and tannin levels have given it its reputation as the perfect steak wine but without some of the more nuanced characteristics found in Merlot, it can be just another obnoxious party crasher. Merlot’s more velvety mouth feel and approachability gains vino fans a little more easily but without the intoxicating aromatics of Cabernet Sauvignon, it can be just another lackluster Hollywood starlet. Grown under the right conditions and guided by the hands of an expert vintner, each varietal can shine on its own and be elevated with the addition of just the right percentage of the other.
Come along with me as I post about our time in the city of Bordeaux—an UNESCO World Heritage Site; Cadillac—a fortified town where we’ll delve a bit into some sweet Sauternes; Libourne—founded in 1270 and host to one of the area’s largest fresh food markets; Bourg—where I’ll be joining a tour to Cognac for some brandy-tasting; Blaye—another UNESCO World Heritage Site with a 17th-century citadel as its crown jewel; and Pauillac—home to Cab Sauvs known the world over including Châteaux Lafite Rothschild.
It’s sure to be a grand week of premium wine-tasting, exquisite food, unbelievable views and stellar company.
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