I am fortunate to have visited many intriguing regions of France–Provence and Burgundy, Normandy and Brittany, the Loire and Champagne, and of course, ile-de-France.
I’ve always wanted to go to Bordeaux. I’m very excited to tour wine-making Chateaux, and sample some regional specialities. There are over 8,000 chateaux and 13,ooo wine-makers.
The first vineyard in the Gironde region dates back 2,000 years (1st century A.D.) However, it was nearly 1,000 years before the region became known for making some of the best wine in the world. The “Golden Age” of Bordeaux was the 18th century–wines were exported all over the world (which was quite a feat for the time with limited modes of transportation).
The past 200 years have not been kind to the region, and in 1956, several strands of mildew and frost were particularly devastating. Half a meter of snow fell on February 21, 1956, effectively destroying many vines. Those vines had to be replaced from outside of the region (and even outside of the country), forever changing the terroir and the wine that would be produced.
And for a bit of history…
One of my classes was studying slavery. I brought some brochures about Louisiana, which of course had information about visiting plantations. I explained to my students that the southeastern part of the United States was where the U.S. slave trade flourished. They quickly responded, “Nantes, Bordeaux.” Apparently, the area in France that benefitted the most from the slave trade was Bordeaux.
I thought for a second. Well, let’s see. Triangle trade–Europeans went to Africa and enslaved people. They then brought those people to the Americas. Bordeaux’s southwest coast location made perfect sense. The ships could easily leave Bordeaux and head to Africa. This made me kind of sick to my stomach! I love how my students teach me things.
And there is not a country in all of Europe–(and also, America) that has not greatly benefitted from the fruits of the evils of slavery.
It doesn’t make Louisiana food any less spicy. So I won’t hold it against the grapes and wine produced in the Bordeaux region.