Monday, September 2, 2013

My First Night in Bordeaux, Chateau de Bel

Once the crew was suitably refreshed and rejuvenated, we piled back into the Mercedes van and sped off in the lazy afternoon light to Chateau de Bel, another old house located right on the banks of the river. We were met by Anne and Olivier Cazenave, owners of the Chateau. Also, we met Aurelie Dainieras of Chateau Penin. If those Chateaux sound familiar, it's because I've written about their wines before, from Planet Bordeaux virtual tastings.

The tidal bore races up the river, but not in this shot!
More snacks, both sweet and savory, and wine were had on a little dock perched upon the river. Olivier and I discussed surfing the tidal bore as it raced upriver each evening. One day I will return to Bordeaux and do just that. If they let me back in, that is.

Anyways. The dinner was prepped and served inside the house, so we all made our way inside, through doorways that seemed to have been designed for shorter people than modern-sized humans. That really gives you a sense the age of a place.

During the conversation, amid the laughter and smiles, the skies were beginning a slow churn. Eventually this would culminate in a blustery storm overnight. I'm getting ahead of myself though. We return to the house, at night, crowded into a dimly let room full of warmth and the smell of food. Bloggers and vignerons sitting side by side, discussing food and wine. The setting should sound just about perfect because it was. I recall a little of the food, it was beef, salad, and bread. The wines were red, white, and pink. Everything was delicious.

Suddenly my French started improving and my glass seemed to empty itself. Coincidence? Looking back, here's to hoping I didn't make too much of an ass of myself.

Various accounts of the French as arrogant and intolerant jerks seem to mainly stem from people who don't make an attempt at speaking the language. I felt our hosts were delighted that I even tried, and while my accent was solid, my lack of vocabulary was a glaring issue, at least in my mind.

One particularly memorable bottle was Oliviers non-vintage cabernet franc. He blends a few years together and if I recall, sells it around Bordeaux. Unfortunately we do not see it here in the United States. It was an incredibly good bottle of wine. This wine paired quite beautifully with the steaks we were enjoying.

Fast forward back out to that Mercedes van and the trip to our hotel for the night. By now the wind was whipping around like crazy, and every so often a few seconds of rain would beat down from the skies. We tired, jet-lagged bloggers quickly retrieved room keys and retired for what was hoped would be a cozy, restful night. I'm proud of myself for hydrating before bed, as the wakeup call came around 7am. Something about these blogger trips and early mornings. I don't get it!

Beau Carufel


  1. Cool location! Do you ever see these wines at retail shops around Portland?

    1. Dan, I am currently working on bringing one producer (Ducourt Family) to Portland,but a lot of these wines were unfortunately only distributed on the East Coast. Disappointing, yet indicative of the market for Bordeaux out here perhaps.

  2. I do like this wine. It is really special for me. I hope that this wine you've presented here will be as good as I expect it to be.