DAY 3 & 4
On Friday early morning we left Hotel Mercure to visit our second organised winery. Chateau du Tertre is a winery in the Margaux appellation of the Bordeaux region of France, in the commune of Arsac. The wine produced here was classified as one of eighteen Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growths) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.
Located on the tertre (French for "hillock" or "rising ground") from which it takes its name, the ancient origins of Château du Tertre are traced back to the Seigneurie d'Arsac documented as early as 1143 whose descendants owned the estate in the 16th century. Le Tertre passed through the ownership of the Arrérac family and Marquis de Ségur until the 1855 classification. When the estate was owned by Charles Henri, Le Tertre hold a good reputation and was in demand on the Dutch market. It was sold to Henri de Koenigswarter in 1870 under whose ownership Le Tertre's reputation increased further.
By World War II the reputation and production had diminished, but in 1961 Château du Tertre was acquired by Philippe Gasqueton, who restored the vineyards and château with the backing of Belgian business partners. Following Gasqueton's death in 1995 his widow sold the property to Eric and Louise Albada Jelgersma, owners of the neighbouring estate Château Giscours, a 3rd growth.
From an 80 hectare estate, the vineyard area extends approximately 50 hectares consisting of the grape varieties of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, with vines averaging about 35 years.
We arrived there a bit early as traffic in Bordeaux in August is less crazy than the rest of the year. It took us less than 1 hour to arrive. Unheard of especially during Vinexpo. I was invited at Chateau Margaux last year for the International Press Dinner which took a good 90 minutes before arriving.
Our hostess and guide gave is a facionating look at du Tertre explaining that the du Tertre team takes care to harness the development of each vine. Soil maintenance, leaf thinning and thinning-out allow the excellence of the terroir to be revealed. The advances of oenological progress are well under control here. The Château du Tertre opted for a wooden vats, with gravity fill. Then, in 2008, the estate installed concrete truncated cone tanks. The small capacity of these tanks enables the best plots to be kept to one side and vinified separately. The wine is then aged over 18 months in French oak barrels, of which half is renewed every year.
The Château du Tertre dominates the vineyard, which enjoys a superb position, lying unbroken over 52 hectares. Cabernet Sauvignon is the major grape variety, endowing the wine with structure and concentration. Renowned for its roundness and suppleness, Merlot brings its silkiness to the final blending. Cabernet Franc lends its distinctive, rich bouquet of spicy notes. Later to mature, the Petit Verdot completes this range of aromas. Thus is born the Château du Tertre Grand Vin, reflecting the very soul of this exceptional terroir.
Besiden creating their principal wine, Chateau du Tertre, they also produce a 2nd wine labelled Les Hauts du Tertre and now a totally different wine labelled Du Tertre Blanc, a Vin de France because it includes sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and viognier in the belnd. A novel idea for Bordeaux.
After our technical tour we went in their tasting room to sample the 2011 of Chateau du Tretre and the 2011 Chateau Giscours, their sister winery just over the hill but wiot so many different nuances.
2011 was not a grand vintage due to challenging climatic conditions making this vintage a winemaker's dream. Let's not forget that in a great vintage, winemaking is easy as they let the characteristics of the vintage to shine through. But in a challenging vintage such as 2011, the winemaker's talent may do wonders or create a catastrophy. Such was the difficulty in 2011. Both wines offered similar compositions yet their difference were remarkable. I asked everyone their impressions and while the grand majoruity prefrred the Chateau Giscours, I can tell you that the 2011 du Tertre offered a rather complex nose and mouthfeel that rather surprised me. I was very glad to taste them side by side.
We then were ready to travel back to Bordeaux and board our AmaDolce, our new residence for the next 7 days. As an avid traveller it is so conforting to be able to embark and now that you only need to unpack once. The AmaDolce is a 143 passanger river ship that always remain the the Boredeaux region.The AmaDolce made its debut in 2009. As any river ship, space is always considered a premium. However here The AmaDolce offers great comfort. My room, which was situated at river level was rather spacious with a very confortable bed, amble bathroom space for one (two people would need to take turns), great internet service (amazing when you think we are regulary in motion). If you are are main level or upper level, staterooms offer French balconies with some great views. The Main Lounge is a stunning yet comfortable public space and exhilarating backdrop for meeting your fellow guests and enjoying nightly entertainment. They even offer a small yet effective fitness room with sauna; walking track and whirlpool, plus a Beauty Salon. All these amedities make you feel pampared. But it's the personal service of the crew that all theses pamoperesd guests will be
When we arrived by bus, around2 pm we boarded and were immediately greeted by our hotel manager Trin Stemmer who informed us to wait in the top lounge where snacks and beverages werev served while waiting to check in. people were getting off, people were boaeding nad it seemed a well oiled machine with puser, and staff coordinating everything very efficently.I gathered that this was not their first trip.
i wanted to check in my room before 3 as I had my first wine presentation of 10 wines to organize and present. Arrived at the Captain's Table room wheere my 13 gropu were iomaptianly waiting , not for me but for the wines. Always nice to know what and not who takes precendence. As everyone had ben going full tlit since 7 in the morning without any break, I decided to only taste 5 wines, with the reamioning 5 wines to be tasted on another day.
At 4:30 we were all invited to join everyoine in the lounge where Elia Spurzem, our Cruise Director welcomed us all, gave us a brief outline of the entire itnerrary then introiduced the crew sarting with our wonderful French Capatain M. Dany Baucher, follwed by our Hotel Manger, Trin Simmer, our Engineer Benoit Belpaume, the Executive Chef Bogdan Dumitrascu, Miatre D' David Kocsis, our Purser Vanda Frade and finally our 1st Housekeeper Nicoleta Dumitrascu. Tnbis was follwe by a presentation of the ship's safety features and procedures.
EWhen everything was completed it wasd nearly time fior dinner but I needed a drink so glass of the bar viognier was in order. Have no idea who the producer was but surmised it would be southern French.(found out it was from the Languedoc Roussilon)
Dinner stared at 7pm and we we all sat together on 2 tables side by side . See pics of menu and the 2 Bordeaux wines served. Every night we will be offered 2 new Bordeaux wines all from easy, fruity enjoyable Petits Chateaux. You can always choose a wine from their reserve list if yoiu so desire.
Saturday morning arrived after an uneasy sleep (first night is always troublesome for me) had a light breakfast then decided to tackle the blog problem. Internet security is something they take very seriously on board so when I wnated to upload my pictures to their desktop computer in the room I found very quickly that this coud not be done. And while iCloud transfer was not possible fro iPad and iphone to computer , I was at aa loss to get my pics to my blog. As everyone says a picture is worth a thousand words so trying to blog daily without pictures would not cut it. So thought and thought and experimented and experimented and through 3 hours (missed lunch) I realised that I might be able to send my pics off my devices by email to my Google account and then maybe download then on the computer desktop and finally download them onto my website. After trying serveral times, I managed sucessufully to do that very thing. so now I wouild be able to blog my daily activities in half the time .
So by the time everything became clear and ready I had to interrupt the blog because we were arriving in the Sauternes region and had two afternoon excursions, the first to Chateau guiraud , the second to Chateau Roquetaillade, the famous castle of the region.
Château Guiraud is a large Sauternes property that is the only 1er Cru Classé, with the exception of its illustrious neighbour Château d`Yquem, that is located within the commune of Sauternes itself.
Guiraud was owned for a short period by the Maxwell family, who invested heavily in the property, although the wines remained fairly pedestrian. In 1981 it was acquired by a Canadian, Hamilton Narby, and he has transformed Guiraud into one of the very finest Sauternes properties.
During a dinner in early 2006, Robert Peugeot, an industrialist, and three wine makers, Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier, Stephan Von Neipperg of Château Canon La Gaffelière and Xavier Planty, the estate's director, decided to buy Guiraud. They signed a purchase contract on 20 July 2006 thereby uniting their shared passion for wine, gastronomy, nature and hunting.
Guiraud's 85 hectares of vineyards are located on one of the hills above the village of Sauternes. They are planted with 65% Sémillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are harvested in "tries" and the juice is then fermented in oak barrels. The wine is then aged in oak casks (50% new) for 2 years.
Guiraud is a very ambitious property with aspirations to produce a wine that will one day rival d`Yquem. The wines are astonishingly rich, especially in light of the high proportion of Sauvignon Blanc in the blend, and are undoubtedly amongst the finest wines being produced in Sauternes today.
On the verge of becoming totally organic, Chateau Guiraud along with Climens are the only 2 estates that have the potential of being certified oraganic, a very audacious feat in Sauternes taking into consideration the climatc challenges to making sweet wine.
Our next stop was the famous Chateau Roquetaillade, a castle in Mazères (near Bordeaux), in the French département of Gironde.
Our guide Sebastain enerttained us thoroughly with history, humour and stories that only someone who gre up in Britain can accomplish. it was an full hour of delight and pleasure
Charlemagne, on his way to the Pyrenees with Roland, built the first fortification there. Of this old castle, nothing remains but imposing ruins.
In 1306, with the permission of the English King Edward I, Cardinal de la Mothe, nephew of Pope Clement V built a second fortress (le Château Neuf).
This new castle was square in plan with six towers and a central keep. The entire structure was restored and transformed by Viollet-le-Duc and one of his pupils, Duthoit, between 1860 and 1870. The extraordinary interior decorations, with its furnishings and paintings, were created by Viollet-le-Duc and are listed as French Heritage.
The château park includes remains of the medieval curtain wall with the barbican, the Pesquey stream and its banks, the 19th century chalet, and the Crampet pigeon loft.
It has been listed since 1976 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture and is open to the public.
Today, the castle has been lived in by the same family for over 700 years. It has been open to the public since 1956 and is the most visited in the Bordeaux region. Open all year round, visits in English with the owners are also possible.
Other activities at the castle include a famous production of white Graves wines "Chateaufort de Roquetaillade", and Bazadais cattle breeding.
So now after a long day of pure pleasure we are off back to the AmaDolce for a brief rest then dinner at 7:15 and lounging for everyone else but myself as I need to put puthe final touches of my day events for the blog
Its 1:15 am and finally finished.Hope you are enjoying the read!