10 Amazing Wine Experiences to Enjoy in Downtown Bordeaux
In addition to being a Great Wine Capital, downtown Bordeaux has the added bonus of being a great walking town with a wonderful array of wine experiences and activities all within an easy reach by foot or tramway. Ditch the car, put on your comfy shoes and check out one of all of these 10 wine-derful destinations, from wine bars and shops, to museums and cultural centers.
1. La Cité du Vin
More over Disney, the moniker of happiest place on earth may now belong to Bordeaux. In June of 2016, the much anticipated and celebrated La Cité du Vin opened the doors to a world of wine, culture and recreation where wine comes to life through an immersive, sensorial approach. The imaginative and enchanting design of the museum is an architectural marvel with sweeping curves and an ethereal tower. La Cité du Vin spans the globe to present the most comprehensive view of wine, cultures and civilizations through temporary and permanent exhibitions. With boutiques, restaurants, a reading room, and on site wine bars, it’s truly a must-see experience during any stay in Bordeaux.
2. Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum
One very important aspect wine is the business side of things and the development of the wine trade. Situated in the historic district of Chatrons, the Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum presents a fascinating collection of unique historical objects, from the past and present that detail the history of the wine trade of Bordeaux from the Middle Ages to the present day. Tour the underground cellars to learn about the history of the great merchant families of the 18th and 19th centuries, growth classifications, and the story of the Port of Bordeaux. At the end of your visit, enjoy a wine tasting in the museum boutique museum where you’ll learn to differentiate between the grape varieties Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as learn the difference between a Merchant and Chateau wine.
3. Bar à Vin Bordeaux Wine Council
The stunning stained glass depiction of Bacchus and the impressive wall of wine set the tone for Bar à Vin. This granddaddy of wine bars, located in the stately 18th century Hôtel Gobineau, is also home to the headquarters of the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council). The elegant and contemporary furnishings give Bar a Vin the feel of a private museum, a place to commune with wine in a setting that has been specially designed to take you on a voyage of discovery through the wine appellations of Bordeaux. Here you can lean about specific appellations or vintages while you sample the entire Bordeaux range - reds, whites, rosés, clarets, and sparkling wines. Visiting with kids? No worries, mineral waters and grape juice are also available.
4. Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux
For many wine lovers, the more you know the deeper your appreciation goes. If you are looking to expand you knowledge of wine Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux is a must stop. The Bordeaux Wine School offers a range educational opportunities including hands on training, intensive classes, workshops and seminars geared to wine enthusiasts of all levels from consumers to journalists. For a great introduction to Bordeaux wine consider a two–day course designed to improve your ability to taste wine; enrich your wine tasting vocabulary and explain the principles of successful food and wine pairing.
5. Max Bordeaux
If you want the ambiance of a wine bar paired with a great learning experience—Max Bordeaux has it all. Plus, it’s the only place downtown where you can taste Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé wines “by the glass” through an innovative program that makes Latour, Margaux, Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc, Mouton Rothschild and Yquem accessible to everyone. Via a high tech-wine dispenser and preservation system, you can sample the wines in perfect condition and at the ideal temperature. Simply load up your “tasting credit card” in any amount and select a 25, 50, or 75 mL size of tasting of any wine. You can enjoy a Private Tasting Workshop any day except on Sundays.
After you’ve sipped some wine and perhaps taken a class, it’s time for some serious wine shopping. Inside L’Intendant you’ll find a circular tower 12 meters high that is literally the stairway to Bordeaux heaven. Over 15,000 bottles of Bordeaux are arranged over five levels of the staircase. The higher you go the more spectacular the wines—the ground floor offers a wide selection of half bottles and delicious affordable wines followed on subsequent levels by crus bourgeois, the classified growths of the Medoc, the great red wines of Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan, and on top floor a unique offering of large format bottles and older vintages.
One of the rare négociant firms to welcome visitors, Millésima is one of the leading fine wine and en-primeur specialist merchants in Bordeaux. Here you can gather insight into the workings of a traditional Bordeaux négociant and visit the two hundred year old cellars with over 2.5 million bottles of wines. The Bibliothèque Impériale (Imperial Library) houses one of the most magnificent collections of oversized bottles, such as magnums, double-magnums, jeroboams and imperials. Millésima also hosts tastings of fine wines and wine dinners and receptions on the premises and inside the Bibliothèque Impériale.
8. Bordeaux River Cruise
Had enough walking? Ready to view Bordeaux from a new perspective? Then Bordeaux River Cruise is just the ticket. Take a half-day or day-long cruise, and discover the Bordeaux vineyards along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and the Gironde estuary. Enjoy wines of the world famous Bordeaux appellations as you pass by the famed vineyards of St Emilion, Médoc, Sauternes, Côtes de Bourg, and UNESCO World Heritage sites like the fortress of Blaye Citadel. Bonus tip: If you are visiting during the Bordeaux wine festival or the French National Holiday on July 14, you can get the best view of the fireworks from the boat deck.
9. Librairie de la Comedie - Feret
Before you leave the city, for sure you’ll want to buy some books as souvenirs and your steps will take you to this very well situated bookshop, across the Bordeaux Opera: Féret has belonged to Bordeaux cultural heritage for more than two centuries. The bookshop offers a wide choice going of the general literature to the lifestyle, but also highlights a vast offer dedicated to wines and to gastronomy… and you can rest and have a cup of tea or a salad at their on-sight coffee-shop!
10. Bordeaux Wine Festival
One of the premier wine events in the world is the Bordeaux Wine Festival. The event, which occurs every other year on the last weekend in June, gathers wine producers of the entire region and the different appellations such as Bordeaux, Cadillac, Saint-Emilion or Margaux. Festival attendees get an up close and personal view into the world of Bordeaux in the three thematic villages set along the left bank of the Garonne. Visitors can meet producers and merchants, take a wine class or workshop, learn about the barrel making process, take an excursion to some of the chateaux’s, and taste all the fabulous wine in the pavilions.