Every two years, the top names in the world of wine descend on Bordeaux in June to experience the hustle, the bustle and the breathless frenzy of Vinexpo, the world's most-anticipated and well-attended biannual wine business exhibition which draws exhibitors, producers, buyers, exporters and big names in wine media under one giant roof at the picturesque lake-facing Parc des Expositions.
However, there is more to Bordeaux than these four breathless days of wine business, tasting and master classes. During her short stay on this trip, Ruma Singh managed to squeeze in some of these experiences:
•Don't miss a visit to the soaring golden-hued La Cité du Vin, opened to the public in 2016. If any city deserves a wine experience of this depth, it is Bordeaux. I spent half a day here, and would gladly return for more. For €20, you can spend an entire day lost in the world of wine. The ticket includes the permanent tour, a tasting of wine of your choice at the rooftop Belvedere with its 360 degree view over the city, and an interactive guide. It was fascinating to see the user-friendly multi-sensory audio-visual tools used to introduce and explore 20 themed zones exploring the history, geography and chemistry of wine. There's also a fine dining restaurant with a view over the river and a huge wine cellar, a wine store and wine-centric souvenir shop. Regular workshops, tastings and events are scheduled as well. Check http://www.laciteduvin.com/en for bookings and details. Timings 9:30 am to 7:30 pm.
•Food in Bordeaux: Bordeaux, fairly recent in the fine dining game has several superb restaurants. Dashing in between sessions, I would grab a bite at Chez Michel, a tiny bistro (15 Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges) recommended by my host, where the duck confit and the foie gras delighted and a good glass of wine was always at hand. If you have a yen for Michelin star dining, try Gordon Ramsey's Le Pressoir d'Argent at the iconic Grand Hotel (Place de la Comédie), Pierre Gagnaire's La Grande Maison (10 Rue Labottière) or Philippe Etchabest's Café Opéra at the Grand Theatre. Old favourites include La Tupina (6 Rue Porte de la Monnaie), La Chapon Fin, and a date with local delicacies is de regieur - Arcachon Bay oysters or good Bordeaux beef. If you are mobile, I recommend visiting the Château Angelus-owned Logis de la Cadene and the scenic Les Belles Perdrix at Château Troplong-Mondot in Saint Emilion and splurging on the famous degustation menu at Château Cordeillan-Bages. Or sit in the terasse bistro, La Table du Lavoir at the famous wine spa Les Sources des Caudalie gazing at the magnificent artworks that dot the lawns of Château Smith Haut Lafitte while you dine.
•Buy wine: When in Bordeaux, seek out good wine. Good stores abound. And if you miss that, stop at the spacious, chic wine store at the rail station, Le Pavillon des Vins de Bordeaux and pick up your favourite bottle of Bordeaux. It also sells some rare vintages. Open 7/7 from 10am to 8pm, Hall 3, Gare St Jean Bordeaux.
•Plan a château visit: A must-do in Bordeaux, filled as it is of some of the world's most famous châteaux. Plan a one- or two-day visit to explore and taste. Log on to the Bordeaux Tourist office http://www.bordeauxwinetrip.com/Discover-the-vineyards to get a variety of options on châteaux and regional tours to suit your schedule and pocket.
Ruma Singh is a former full-time journalist, now a periodic freelance writer and columnist on wine, food, travel and lifestyle subjects. She also writes features and columns for a bunch of wine, travel and food publications like Food Lover’s Magazine, Sommelier India, Mint Lounge, a handful of mainstream publications and wine websites.