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When you travel north from Bordeaux, up the Right Bank of the Dordogne, you will soon find yourself in the Côtes de Bourg region. It is known as Bordeaux’s little Switzerland, thanks to the hilly terrain that runs down to the water. At the heart of this region, is the ancient town of Bourg, a port town where the Dordogne flows into the Garonne to become the Gironde Estuary. It is here that you will find La Maison du Vin de Bourg. From the front the building is a classic traditional stone house, in keeping with the town, but once inside you will discover a brand new space. This new structure houses the ultra modern wine bar and its 150 square meter terrace with spectacular views over the Dordogne River.
Share a glass or two with friends here and you will be spoilt for choice, there are over 170 different wines from the Bourg region, red, white and rosé to choose from. Tasting workshops, aperitifs, and other wine-themed events take place here throughout the year. It is the perfect place to discover this lesser-known appellation of Bordeaux. When you find a wine you love you can pop down stairs to the vaulted cellars to pick up a few bottles from the shop to take home with you.
If you don't want to drive there you can always arrive by boat. Bordeaux River Cruises organises trips to Bourg from Bordeaux city centre. That way you can start the party before you get there with a tasting on board as you float by the vineyards.
Continuing on our theme of new discoveries, head southeast along the banks of the majestic Dordogne and you will arrive in the appellation of Fronsac. This beautiful region is also on spectacular limestone hillsides leading down to the Dordogne. Stop off at Chateau La Dauphine, the beautiful mid 18th century chateau built to welcome La Dauphine de France, mother of the last King of France Louis 16th. Stroll up the vine clad slopes to sit amongst the vineyard and enjoy the panoramic view and taste some of the Merlot driven wines of the property. Or perhaps you would be happier down in front of the chateau, sitting by the pool sipping a glass of wine surrounded by the elegant parklands - either way you will be sharing this unique tranquil environment with your friends.
Further south, on the banks of the Garonne this time, here is another opportunity to taste wines in the unique setting of the park of a listed historic monument; the 17th century Château de Cerons. The chateau takes its name from one of the smallest appellations in Bordeaux, Cerons, famous for its sweet white wines. Here the Perromat family, owners of the estate, also make dry white, red and rose wines too. Make your selection and taste them by the glass or by the bottle, under a tree in the beautiful park. If this works up an appetite the château has a picnic selection to nibble on to accompany the wines. The perfect way to spend a summer evening.
If you literally want to hang out with friends head to Chateau Rayne Vigneau, 1st Classified growth of Sauternes. Here, supervised by a professional tree climber, you can climb (with a little help of a rope and harness) to the top of a two-hundred-year-old cedar tree. Once there, seated at a suspended table, overlooking the Sauternes vineyards and the Ciron valley, you will sip the delicious sweet wines of the property. I'm not sure which is the most breath taking, the view or the wine.