Thursday afternoon we docked in town of Pauillac located in the estuary on the left bank of the broad marshy Gironde River. The Medoc wine region is located here and it contains some of the most legendary chateaus for producing wine: Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Kirwan, Chateau Palmer and Chateau Pichon Baron, the later two being favorites of MA’s son Jim. When all our groups from the the Viking Foresti boarded one of four Merceds Binz luxury motor coaches, we set off on our tour of this area.
Outside the small town of Pauillac the geography changed to vineyard after vineyard, rows after rows, acres and acres of grape vines growing. Some of the vineyards employed a small tractor that travels between three rows of vines and plows the dirt. Some vineyards use horses and some had workers hand manicuring the planted vines.
We stopped for a visit to the Chateau Giscours where we were shown the grounds and storage buildings, and given a fairly detailed talk about the wine making process including about how and why Bordeaux wine is the best. Something I did not know is that the best soil is made up of mostly gravel. We looked at an example of what a 9-foot deep hole looks like that the vines have to grow down to. From the first foot down to the clay it’s all gravel. The vine has to grow down that far to reach clay and water. It’s the minerals in the soil that feed the vines. None of them are fertilized chemically. After the technical stuff we were offered a tasting of three of their wines.
Our next and last stop of the evening was at the Chateau Kirwan where we were hosted by Viking for a chateau dinner in a beautiful room with wonderful wood beams all across the ceiling.
Dinner was a four course meal supervised by the ship’s chef and served by the ship’s wait staff. MA has wanted to buy her son, Jim, a bottle of 1999 Bordeaux wine. He and his wife Sue were married in 1999 and that makes these 1999 vintages special for them.
One of the waiters we had made friends with, Girondl, found a 1999 bottle at the chateau for her. She bought it on the spot which made her very happy. Our meal was four courses: Onion & garlic soup with a pastry top, a salad with duck on the side, veal filet mignon with asparagus, carrots and potato gratin and topped off with a chocolate Viennetta. Do I have to say it was delicious! We then boarded our bus which took us back to Pauillac and our ship. We were ‘done for the day’ to say the least.
Tomorrow we visit the main market in Bordeaux.