DAY 2 : Uniworld Boutique RiverCruise Collection – BORDEAUX VINEYARDS & CHATEAUX…Our first day of introductions to the diverse wine districts of Bordeaux. It was Sauternes today – the sweet white wines of Southern Bordeaux, traditionally considered a dessert wine, the industry is keen to display how versatile these wines really are.
When taking you on excursions, Uniworld splits the cruise into smaller groups so that when you visit a destination, you travel with only around 30 other guests which is really practical, and so we head off on a coach to the small area of Bommes and the vineyard Chateau La Tour Blanche (or the White Tower) for some tasting. The ship sails on to Cadillac and meets us later in the day.Chateau La Tour Blanche was prestigiously ranked a ‘Premier Cru’ or ‘first growth’ in 1855 and when its last owner died in 1907, he bequeathed the estate to the French government on the proviso that they set up and ran a practical, non-fee wine school for budding viticulturists. The unique microclimate and a nifty little fungus called botrytis cinerea conspire to turn some of the bunch’s fruit into highly sugar concentrated, crystallised fruits which in turn contribute to the unique fruity and spicy character of Sauternes. Served chilled they are a delicious aperitif but also pair well with many other foods – as we were to later learn.
Back on the bus and off to a memorable luncheon at the Chateau Royal De Cazeneuve. With faultless food presentation and taste and a magnificent selection of Sauternes matched to each course, we were guided through the history of the Chateau and the characteristics of the wine throughout the meal.
This 12th-century Chateau once belonged to Henri IV of France and contains an authentic and original collection of furniture and artefacts. The current owner who is descended from the royal line of former owners was on hand to greet us and provide information on the history of the chateau. Uniworld’s own professional guides had an exceptional knowledge of both wine, the region and the history of the chateau, so all in all, a very valuable and educational day.
Back onto the ship late afternoon, we had time to freshen up and put on our glad rags for the welcome reception and gala dinner. We were warmly welcomed by the entire management staff including the Captain and after a few glasses of bubbles and canapes enjoyed an outstanding 4-course dinner which surprisingly was very easy to “fit in”. I put it down to the excellent wines assisting greatly with the digestion process! For those of us who stayed up until midnight, we were treated to a magnificent experience of passing under the Pont de Pierre Bridge and viewing the night skyline of Bordeaux as we headed back to the city port.