With Senior Culinary Director Eric Barale
On the Garonne River, the crescent-shaped city of Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage site celebrated for its inimitable food and wine. The famed wine-growing region of Bordeaux is dotted with stately châteaux that could have been plucked from fairytales and offers more vineyards than you could dream of visiting.
According to Senior Culinary Director Eric Barale, the glory and fun is certainly in trying. Born nearby, Barale grew up surrounded by grapes, foie gras, great architecture and a fine eye on gastronomy. “When you arrive to Bordeaux, something comes over you when you head into the countryside,” he explained. “What you may not realize, until maybe you’ve spent some time in the region, is that it’s what we call la douceur de vivre – the sweetness of living.”
Bordeaux Is a Paradise for Wine Lovers
According to Barale, it’s part of the Bordelais lifestyle to enjoy and savor the moment. With the endless vineyards and châteaux to discover, it’s the ultimate paradise for wine lovers, so that helps too. “There are so many excellent wines – expensive and inexpensive alike, so for me a Bordeaux wine par excellence does not exist,” Barale said. “Everybody will find something nice here.”
With so many renowned wines, a few must stand out. He shares that the most unforgettable wine he has ever had from the region was a 1986 Château Pape Clément Pessac Léognan. “This is a typical red Bordeaux with very strong tannin, wild game flavors, as well as notes of fresh tobacco,” Barale noted. “I discovered this wine with one of my best friends, also a French sommelier, during a private degustation many years ago when I was still a teacher.”
Hidden Gems near Bordeaux
Looking to strike off the beaten path while in Bordeaux? Barale recommends you explore the nearby Côtes de Bergerac and Madiran regions. Though these regions have long lived in the shadow of neighboring Bordeaux, they boast excellent wines.
“Bergerac has a terroir similar to Bordeaux, but focuses slightly more on the production of white wine,” he said. “Madiran is located at the foothills of the Pyrenees and is known for its very rich, concentrated and tannic wines. Be adventurous and try some wines you might not normally.”
Explore Bordeaux in One Day
If you happen to arrive in Bordeaux with no plans, worry not – simply follow in the footsteps of Barale. “What I love doing the most in Bordeaux is having a ride through an appellation and stopping at every château for a degustation of their wine,” he said. “Then I enjoy a nice dinner – perhaps ordering one of my favorites, La Lamproie à la Bordelaise – on the bank of the Garonne River.”
Barale reminds us that it’s easy to continue your affair with Bordeaux back on board – between Jacques on Marina and Riviera, Jacques Bistro at the Grand Dining Room on Sirena and the French-inspired dishes at the Grand Dining Room, you have plenty of options to choose from. “Our lovely Marchand de Vin and the Bordelaise sauces call on the typical preparations of the region,” he said. “Plus, you have the great selection of cheeses and wines from Bordeaux bringing the flavors of the countryside on board.”