We are already well into the second month of the year, as memories of the year end’s festivities fade it’s time to think about – holidays. Perhaps this year a visit to Bordeaux?
When to come? Well the wine calendar is getting busier each year with events for both the general public and the trade, there are times to avoid and times to visit. So here’s a run down of some of things you can look forward to if you’re planning to visit Bordeaux in 2013.
Anyone who still thinks that Bordeaux châteaux operate a closed door policy to visitors obviously hasn’t been paying attention lately. All the regions (appellations) organise open door weekends and the first in 2013 is the Medoc on the 23/24th march
April will be manic with the presentation of the 2012 vintage organised by the Union des Grand Crus to the trade and press from 8-12th. Unless you are a member of the trade with a professional invite I highly recommend you avoid visiting Bordeaux during this week as it’s a bit of a zoo properties being very busy with their trade guests. However Bordeaux city will be full and the weather is just starting to be spring like.
However if you come a month later the highlight will be Weekend des Grands Crus on 17/19 May. This will be the 8th edition with over 100 Grands Crus presenting their 2010 (current release) vintage for tasting under one roof open to one and all and the are chateaux open for visits and gala tasting dinners. A much more gentle experience for the taste buds than the barrel samples on offer earlier in April.
Back in April from 13-14th is the 19th Edition of the Blaye Spring Festival and the open door weekend Lalande de Pomerol is at the end of the month 27/28th. These lesser-known appellations are well worth the visit, and are an answer to the critics that insist that good Bordeaux wines are always expensive.
The important dates in June are Vinexpo http://www.vinexpo.com/en/ from 16-20th, the trade fair that takes over the city and the vineyards every other year. Again, unless you part of the trade, again I strongly suggest avoiding these dates as all the growers are manic looking after the movers and shakers that are making, or trying to make, the market. However it is, by far, the best shop window for the worldwide wine and spirits industry.
If you do decide to come try and get there a day early you can join the Spring Jurade de Saint Emilion on the 15th June.
Fancy a more active Bordeaux break? Come and get fit with wine! You can intersperse your wine tasting with a little physical activity if you choose your dates carefully. The Blaye Marathon is on the 11th May this year or you can discover the beautiful hillsides of this appellations by Mountain biking a week later on the 19th, choose from one of 3 circuits depending upon your level of expertise.
On the other bank of the Garonne the Médocaine VTT is a cycle race through some of the most famous vineyards of Margaux, Haut-Médoc, Moulis and Listrac, on Saturday 25th May 2013 almost 7000 cyclists will leave Arsac in the morning and of course it all ends in a big party. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the Marathon du Medoc a little further north up the peninsula which will be held on the 7th September this year. If you need to get into shape before the big event you could join in The Sauternes Marathon on the 2nd June. On the last weekend of May or first weekend of June you can combine wine and wellbeing with one of the Yoga and wine weekends.
More of a spectator than participator? From 24th May – 2nd June the whole of the Bordeaux riverfront, and the river itself, will celebrate the River Festival http://www.bordeaux-fete-le-fleuve.com/uk/programme/index.html finishing with the start of the 44th edition of the Solitaire du Figaro race on the 1stJune.
A spot of music with your wine? The Saint Emilion jazz festival will see it’s second edition this year from 18-21st and then the Jazz and Wine itinerant festival will be working it’s way through the region again this summer stopping in the Cotes du Bourg on the 3rd August.
All that should give you food for thought for the spring and summer – I’ll be back with more ideas for the autumn nearer the time.