Harvesting in Cotes Bourg wine appellation
For the third consecutive year, I accompanied a group of tourists who had come from the four corners of the world to share an authentic moment of our culture – a day harvesting.
These grape picking and wine discovery days are organised by the wine syndicates – this one by the wine syndicate of Côtes de Bourg. This year, 18 people left the Tourist Office in Bordeaux composing 3 Japanese, 2 people from Hong Kong, 1 New Zealander, 1 American, 2 people from Martinique, 1 from Trinidad and Tobago, 6 Parisians and 2 from Bordeaux.
After about an hour on the road, our brave team of tourists arrived at Château Mercier on the slopes of Côtes de Bourg. After being kitted out with buckets and secateurs they were off to work among the rows of vines to harvest the precious merlot grapes. But their work didn’t stop there because this year they also had to take the stems off the grapes they had picked by hand – so I think maybe they regretted having been so efficient in the quantities they picked !
So to finish, they crushed the grapes by foot before sharing a well-earned meal around a laden table. After the meal, the keenest of the group learned about what happens after that – the vinification and the ageing of the juice – and then it was time to get back to Bordeaux.
To go further : What is "Côtes de Bourg"? Where is it?
The wine appellation lays on the right bank of the Dordogne and Garonne rivers, about 35 km north of Bordeaux. The appellation Côtes de Bourg extends over 15 villages.
Historians place the wine-producing vocation of Bourg around the 2nd century, namely the Roman period and from the Middle Ages, Bourg was an important wine port, ideally located on the edge of the estuary for its river trade.
We find the appellations " Côtes de Bourg ", " Bourg " and " Bourgeais " since 1920's, which makes it one of the oldest of the Bordeaux wine region.
On September 11, 1936, the appellation was approved for red wines and in May 1945 for white wines.
Most of the wine produced is red : about 3950 hectares of red vines against about 30 hectares of white vines. I can only advise you to try the dry white wines from Bourg and even more perhaps those that have been aged on lees! Yummy!
For the reds, you will find the traditional Bordeaux grape varieties with a dominant of Merlot but what makes the Côtes de Bourg wines so special is the wide use of MALBEC in the blend which is known for giving a special spicy side to the local wines.
Today, about 400 winegrowers produce Côtes de Bourg wines. Here, we talk about small family vineyards with an average surface of about 10 hectares.
The very hilly landscape has earned it the nickname "LA PETITE SUISSE GIRONDINE". This denomination let you guess the topography in hillsides parallel to the Gironde estuary. Moreover, the french word "Côtes" can be translated by "slopes".