In our series Scandinavian Explorers, we’re presenting articles on famous Scandinavian explorers from the Viking Age to present time as well as destinations worth exploring for people from the north. Scandinavians love to travel, and we aim to inspire them to explore well-known as well as less visited places for fun and lasting experiences. Last Friday, we focused on attractions in Bordeaux. Today, Scandinavians are exploring food and wine and accommodation in Bordeaux.
Food & Wine
Bordeaux is one of the country’s most important wine districts. Don’t miss a tour to Saint-Emillion, in my opinion one of the best wine districts in France.
There are many fine restaurants all over Bordeaux. Before going there, I asked a local to recommend a restaurant, and his choice was without doubt La Brasserie Bordelaise.
La Brasserie Bordelaise
Located in the Saint-Pierre district in the heart of the historic town center of Bordeaux, the Brasserie Bordelaise is a true institution. The brasserie is an unmissable home for “real food-lovers and honest drinkers” as one of the locals whispered in my ear. Here you can enjoy a classic blend of the classic and the temporary.
Brasserie Bordelaise has an impressive wine cellar with 750 references. The wine list offers wines from throughout France and around the world, and pride of place is given to the wines of Bordeaux and the South-West. Sommelier Frank recommended us a bottle of Château d’Arche 2020 to accompany our menu. Asking why, he explained it is an all-round wine, for fish as well as meat, full-bodied and with normal acidity. It proved to be a perfect match for our menu, starting out with an assortment of tapas, fresh cuts.
For man dish, I opted for the cassoulet, a portion so generous that I couldn’t even finish it, while my partners enjoyed saucisson and Ventrêche de Porc Noir grillée, respectively. For dessert we had an assortment of sweet pastries.
Our waiter, Ico (from Mali) was friendly and fun, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to our evening.
As the restaurant fills up quickly, we advise you to make a reservation in advance.
Saint-Emilion is a charming medieval village located in the heart of the famous Bordeaux wine area. It is a very unique site where world-famous wineries, fine wine, beautiful architecture and great monuments are a perfect match.
Saint-Emilion is all about wine. There are more than 800 wine estates in the commune.
The legend says that a monk from Brittany fled from Vannes, his hometown, to seek refuge in one of the natural caves in a place called Ascum bas (former name of the village) in the 8th century.
His name was Emilion. Living the life of a hermit he accomplished a few miracles and rapidly became famous in the region and even far beyond its borders. Soon he had many disciples and with their help he evangelized that place and made it become a great religious center. Even after his death his followers carried on his legacy and even called the town after him: Saint-Emilion.
The monastery was reformed in the 12th century. Remains can still be found in the cloister, particularly the entrance of the chapter house to the east. An elegant arcade was built at the end of the 13th century. Tombs which was long ago painted were dug out of the southern and eastern at the end of the 13th and 14th centuries.
Nowadays the extraction is over but there are still 200km of underground galleries under the village and its vineyard standing as a proof of that activity. We recommend a guided tour – which is the only way to experience this astonishing underground attraction.
The easiest way to go to Sain-Emilion from Bordeaux center in by bus 304, departing from Quinconces and ending at Bourg, just outside the town.
Scandinavians Exploring Bordeaux – Part 2, the article continues
A Visit to Chateau Dassault
At Chateau Dessault we were greeted with wine-tasting as well as historical insights by Directeur General Roman Depons and Directrice Commerciale Valérie Befve.
Chateau Dassault was created in the mid-1800s by a member of the Fourcaud family. If the Fourcaud family sounds familiar to you it is because they are best known for creating Chateau Cheval Blanc. At the time of its birth, the estate started out life under the name of Chateau Couperie. That changed in 1955 when the vineyard was purchased by Marcel Dassault (1892-1986).
Not only did Marcel Dassault completely renovate the entire Saint Emilion estate and its vineyards, as well as improve the drainage system, but he also renamed the property as well following the old custom of naming your Bordeaux winery after yourself. He rechristened the estate, Chateau Dassault. The family fortune comes from the airline industry, they are the owners of Dassault aviation. The Dassault family has a wide range of investments that include the French newspaper, Le Figaro.
The Dassault family maintains a strong relationship with Chateau Lafite Rothschild, as their wines are aided in their distribution by Lafite Rothschild.
In 2002, the grandson of Marcel, Laurent Dassault purchased the neighboring estate of Chateau La Fleur. At the time, it was expected that the two vineyards, Chateau La Fleur and Chateau Dassault would merge. But that is not what took place. Instead, Laurent Dassault allowed La Fleur to remain its own vineyard with its unique identity.
In January 2014, the Dassault family added to their holdings in Saint Emilion with the purchase of Chateau Faurie de Souchard from the Sicard family. In late 2016, the Dassault family added to their vineyard holdings in St. Emilion when they bought Chateau Trimoulet.
Recently Chateau Dassault has finished another modernizing of their Right Bank wine-making facilities with a renovation of their vat rooms.
Roman Depons tells us that the particular environment in which the grapes for a wine are grown, give the wine a special character: The main difference between wines is their terroir, the elusive combination of soil, vine stock and planting habits of a particular vineyard. The plots grouped around Chateau Dessault form a compact group which nevertheless presents a wide variety of terroirs.
“Our vineyard is made up of the three traditional grape varieties of the SE appellation which are distributed according to the specific qualities of each plot. At harvest time, the batches of grapes are vinified separately and provide us with a wide range of combinations when blending the wines.
In 2009, Chateau Dessault was one of the first properties to benefit from an optical sorting machine. This innovative investment allows us to define in an extremely precise manner the grape berries that we accept“.
But if a great wine is the fruit of will, it is also the fruit of a lot of work, vintage after vintage, he adds. Thus Chateau Dessault obtained the rank of SE GC Claqsse in 1969. Chateau Dessault expresses itself through precise and fleshy flavors where elegance and aromatic expression remain the dominant characters. They will reveal themselves and be appreciated after aging for 10 to 15 years depending on the vintage.
A proud Roman Depons says that since 2016, the estates have also been involved in integral vinification in 500 liter thermoregulated barrels with the aim of refining and ever more respecting the personality of these different plot origins.
Malo-lactic fermentation is carried out in new barrels and vats, and the wines continue to age in barrels for 14 to 18 months.
Sales director Valérie Befve tells us that the four children of the legendary family patriarch Serge Dassault regularly visit the estates. They are very committed to their wineries. “You don’t have the impression of working for a large corporation, but for a personally run family business,” she says and adds, “That’s extremely pleasant.”
Dassault is the world’s largest private aviation group, producing, among other things, the Rafale and Falcon aircraft. It also includes various other business sectors, including around seventy newspapers, including Le Figaro.
Scandinavians Exploring Bordeaux, the article continues.
There are dozens of hotels to choose from in Bordeaux city – from basic “bed and breakfast” style accommodations to exclusive, top-tier luxury properties. For our stay in Bordeaux we focused on three issues: location, price and convenience.
The three star Hotel Ibis Bordeaux Centre Mériadeck met our required specifications. The hotel is located in the business district of Bordeaux with walking distance (10 minutes) to the city center. The tram stop to the Bordeaux Mérignac Airport is very close to the hotel and the ride takes 30 minutes.
The hotel is decorated in modern style, no luxury, but the rooms are clean and functional. The buffet breakfast is composed of sweet and savory dishes such as eggs, fruit salad and yogurts. We enjoyed the breakfast in the small outdoor area. The restaurant is open for dinner at night and serves regional specialties.
This is the first article in which modern Scandinavians explore destinations outside Scandinavia. The series include, however, also famous Scandinavian explorers, past and present. Leif Erikson was the first known European to spot North America in 986 AD.
You can read the story here.
You can read Scandinavians Exploring Bordeaux – Part 1 – by clicking the link.
Scandinavians Exploring Bordeaux – Part 2, written by Tor Kjolberg
All photos © Tor Kjolberg/Daily Scandinavian