So there we were in Pommerol, visiting a local aristocrat with 500 years of winemaking history in his family, and very much enjoying our never-endingly eventful Travelife in Bordeaux.
It was the start of one of the busiest times of the year in Bordeaux, as Vinexpo 2013 was just about to open.
Practically every major wine talent or wine producer was in the region for networking and lots of wine drinking.
2 VERY DIFFERENT BUT EQUALLY WONDERFUL HOTELS
We stayed at two hotels in Bordeaux, and we enjoyed both thoroughly, but in very different ways.
The first part was at the ultra-relaxing and laidback Les Sources de Caudalie in the suburbs of Bordeaux, and the second part was at the more formal Grand Hotel de Bordeaux, right in the center of the city.
Both are five-star deluxe properties considered among the best places sto stay in France.
CASUAL CHIC IN THE COUNTRY
Personally, I chose Les Sources de Caudalie because I wanted to enjoy the spa and the countryside.
Meanwhile, the Travel Companion was keen on Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte just across the road from Caudalie, so it was a very happy compromise.
Les Sources de Caudalie, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) group, is run by Alice and Jerome Tourbier.
Alice is the youngest daughter of the owners of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte. We met up with Alice in Versailles and in Bordeaux and their family really has an interesting story.
More on this in later blog entries, as well as in Travelife Magazine...
EVERYONE FROM NAPA VALLEY IS HERE
Les Sources de Caudalie was the hotel of choice for all the top Napa Valley winemakers in town for Vinexpo, and it was like one big reunion.
Everyone who was anyone in Napa was strolling through the vineyards around Les Sources de Caudalie and Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte this weekend.
In fact, someone whispered to me that the makers of the pretty famous Screaming Eagle from Napa were next to us at breakfast one morning.
More on this in a later blog entry...
CLASSIC ELEGANCE AND OLD WORLD CHARM
Then we moved to the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux, which is definitely the most glamorous place to stay in the region. It's in the best location for exploring the city of Bordeaux.
I really loved this old and classic hotel, as well. They have on their premises the Le Pressoire de l'Argent restaurant, that is arguably Bordeaux's best restaurant.
It is definitely the prettiest one I have eaten in in recent memory, in a Travelife full of beautiful and delicious restaurants.
So that's saying a lot.
FANTASTIC CONCIERGE AT THE GRAND HOTEL
And their concierge is just amazing. Most of the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux concierge team proudly wear the insignia of the Cle D'Or, which is the most prestigious concierge qualification in France.
I was really impressed with their service.
AN ENJOYABLE VISIT WITH AN ARISTOCRAT
Anyway, it was while we were in Bordeaux that we had this thoroughly enjoyable visit with Monsieur Bruno de Lambert, owner of Chateau de Salle.
Chateau de Salle has over 500 years of wine-making history behind it, and it is the biggest producer in the Pommerol region.
SO VERY UNDER THE RADAR
Interestingly, Chateau de Salle is not very well known compared to many other prestigious winemakers in the region.
One reason may be the fact that Chateau de Salle sells mainly en primeur, which basically means selling by the barrel direct to certain types of customers rather than the retail wine market. So you are unlikely to find his wines as is, outside of Bordeaux.
Also, Monsieur de Lambert makes wines for himself and his tastes, and really does not care about marketing or fancy branding.
He said to us: "The most important thing is that I like my own wine."
Having a very stimulating discussion with him as we walked the property and the cellars made me realize for the first time how personal wine making can get in France.
|Monsieur de Lambert's wine-tasting room...|
It took an aristocrat whose family has been making wine in the same house for over 500 years to make me realize this.
THE REAL MEANING OF TERROIR
Monsieur de Lambert said: "For me, terroir is the communication of the soil and the weather through the grape vines."
And at Chateau de Salle, everything is incredibly personal.
Monsieur de Lambert added: "When it's wine making season, my hands are stained with purple the entire time, and my clothes are full of sugar. I'm here every day to taste every vat, and to adjust the temperature and the combination of materials and techniques depending on this.
He added: "There is no formula. It is trial and error, and all of it is a matter of sense and gut feel. We do not use any fancy techniques. We use our brains and our heart."
I can tell you that after that, I drank every glass of wine in Bordeaux with way more appreciation for the art of wine.
Living a never-endingly eventful Travelife, of course.
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