Travels in Wine / Bordeaux

Travels in Bordeaux: looking for little nuggets of joy!


David Marsh David Marsh / 21 March 2019

Day three dawned bright again and found us fighting our way through the morning rush hour to Sovex Grands Châteaux, in reality a warehouse a stone's throw from the Bordeaux Rocade (outer ring-road) and less glamorous than the name might suggest.

Home from home! The functional HQ of our next port of call just off the ring road
Home from home! The functional HQ of our next port of call just off the ring road

The job in hand was another run through petits châteaux to try and find the gems. However, this was an even bigger task than on the first evening with over 60 clarets with a handful of dry and sweet whites thrown in for good measure.

Tim and Maria Mercier from Sovex with the wines lined up behind
Tim and Maria Mercier from Sovex with the wines lined up behind

Tim tasted through all the wines and from the clarets the hit rate was not great, primarily because 2017 was a challenging vintage for entry-level Bordeaux. He asked for samples of only three of the wines to be sent to Stevenage for retasting. Luckily, I had a couple of work calls to make so could gracefully bow out of tasting all the wines. The ones I did try, again showed just how difficult it is to taste such a large number of wines and the efforts and expertise that go into selecting wines for members to enjoy.

Despite the low hit rate we were taken to a very nice restaurant for lunch in a refurbished building just by the main bridge across the river into Bordeaux. Tim had certainly earned his refreshing beer and no doubt worked up an appetite!

Château Ad Francos

Our next visit was to Château Ad Francos (in the Francs appellation, as the Latin name suggests) where we started with a really interesting tour of the building – there seemed to be some part of it built in each of the last 10 centuries.

The chai (or cellar) was built above ground but because the walls are so thick and built above a spring the temperature and humidity are still ideal.

Château Ad Francos, Bordeaux
The table is laid for staff Christmas dinner at Château Ad Francos, Bordeaux

The table laid for the staff Christmas celebration dinner. The chef was our guide on the architectural tour – he didn't seem at all stressed despite being in the middle of preparing a five course meal for 30!

Tasting at Ad Francos
Tasting at Ad Francos

Tim discussing his views on the wines with the winemaker from Ad Francos and Christina from their agents. As well as tasting the château wines we also sampled other wines that Christina's company represents.

French dinner with vegetables
French vegetables with dinner

The recommended restaurant that evening was Le Chien de Pavlov (get it?!). The wine list was short and organic only, we chose a St Emilion. Probably not one of the best wine lists we were to see. I can certainly recommend the food, however, which was in a slightly more rustic style than the previous two evenings. I had a chunky pâté to start and then a delicious and tender dish of pork tenderloin. The pork was accompanied by the traditional array of vegetables served in France: two sprouts – well, it was almost Christmas!

Where to go next?

Travels in Bordeaux: the home stretch

Back to Blaye, Bourg & Blending

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