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Bordeaux is an elegant, UNESCO world-heritage city that has been recently redeveloped to the delight of all who visit. The heart of the city is the Garonne River, the same waterway Dutch and English merchants sailed centuries ago with barrels of wine. Today, where once grungy warehouses lined the river, a park-like concourse now frames and showcases the city.
Each year, wine lovers from all over the world come to Bordeaux for one simple reason: to visit the 300,000 acres of vineyards that surround the city from every direction. And no matter which direction you go, there's a famous appellation—from the classic reds of the Médoc to the underappreciated whites of Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers; from the unparalleled dessert wines of Sauternes, to the rising reds of the Right Bank's Pomerol and Saint-Émilion.
Cadillac is a commune in the Gironde department in Aquitaine in southwestern France. It lies directly across the Garonne river from Sauternes, which is known for producing sweet dessert wines under the Cadillac AOC designation. The name of the commune was adopted by Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the founder of Detroit and Governor of Louisiana, on his arrival to what is now the United States. The Cadillac division of General Motors, and Cadillac, Michigan are named after him.
The gateway to the wine region of Sauternes which is known for its exceptional botrytized dessert wines. Sauternes is extremely risky and expensive to make, because harvest must take place quite late, when there is the danger of rain or frost. In some years, either because of the weather or the failure of botrytis to arrive at all, no Sauternes is made. Even in the best conditions, yields are low. Chateau D’Yquem, the region’s most famous estate, preserves its superlative reputation by limiting yields to as little as 9 hl/ha (wine per hectare of vineyard).
The small town of Pauillac is on the Gironde estuary north of Bordeaux, in the Medoc region. It has an international fame due to the wine produced in the region - the town of Pauillac itself is less well known. Fronting onto the Gironde estuary, the town of Pauillac consists of some quais along the water frontage, a broad 'boulevard' with a number of cafes just behind, and then the main town going up the hill behind that. There are some cafes and shops, and some 19th century houses and shops in the characteristic 'charentais' type style.
Many of the notable highlights for visitors to Pauillac are related to the chateaux and wine estates. Pauillac is possibly the most famous of all the Bordeaux wine producing appellations, with three premiers grands crus classés (1st great growth) out of 5. Pauillac has 18 grands crus classés in total! The great châteaux of Pauillac are Château Lafite, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild.
Situated on the eastern side of the Gironde estuary north of Bordeaux, Blaye is best known for its Citadel and for the red wine produced in the surrounding region. With 4,700 inhabitants, Blaye is a small town, but has a long history of military and strategic significance.
According to legend Blaye is the final resting place of the Count Roland of Blaye, nephew of Charlemagne and hero of Le Chanson de Roland. Unfortunately, the Basilique Saint-Romain where he was said to be buried suffered damage in the Wars of Religion and was later completely destroyed during the building of the Citadel.
Often missed due to beautiful Bordeaux to the west and Saint-Emilion to the south-east, the town of Libourne sits at the confluence of the Dordogne and Isle Rivers. Libourne itself is a small administrative and commercial center; there is a port for ocean-going vessels, although traffic is limited, and the town is the center of a wine-producing district. Libourne takes its name from Roger de Leyburn, English seneschal of Gascony, who founded it as a bastide (fortified town) in 1270.
But more importantly, this is the Right Bank of Bordeaux. Most famous for the wines made here and in the nearby region of Pomerol, wine made here in Liournais is Merlot. Some of the most prized Merlot based wines are produced in the area around the town of Libourne.
One of the the Libournais’ most celebrated areas, Saint-Émilion borders the Dordogne River about 80 miles east of the town of Bordeaux. The village of St-Émilion has remarkably remained nearly unchanged since the middle ages.