The Bordeaux Wine Festival takes place this weekend (June 28-August 1). It was created eight years ago and takes place every two years. Its popularity has been growing and in 2010 it attracted half a million visitors from France and around the world. Each year a city is honored and this year Hong Kong is the guest of honor. Thanks to a tasting pass, visitors can enjoy samples of a host of different wines at the festival. Some 80 regional appellations are represented giving an opportunity for both connoisseurs, amateurs and people just learning about wine to sample and discover. New in 2012 is the Grand Cru Passport, enabling pass holders to taste prestigious vintages selected by the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés in 1855.
With 113,000 hectares the Bordeaux wine producing area is the largest producer of fine wines in the world. It produces mainly red wine (80%) but also a fair amount of dry white (17%) and " sweet " desert wines (3%) and even some sparkling.
The Bordeaux wine region is traversed by the rivers Garonne and Gironde . On the left bank of the Gironde the soil tends to be gravelly which is propice to growing Cabernet Sauvignon. Here you find the sub regions of the Medoc, Pessac Leognam, Graves, Barsac and Sauternes.
The soil in the right right bank tend to be clay and favored by Merlot and Cabernet franc grape varieties. Here you find the sub regions of Bourg and Blaye, St. Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac and Entre-Deux Mers.
In the center of this fertile wine growing region is Bordeaux, a city rich in history with an elegant 18th century architectural ensemble that has been classified as Unesco World Heritage site. Three other sites in Bordeaux figure on the list of Unesco Cultural Heritage --St. Andre cathedral, St. Michel Basilica and St. Sernin Basilica - all three religious stops on the Pilgrimage road to St. James de Compotella.
Place des Quinconques (largest square in Europe), the newly renovated Promenade along the Garonne and the lovely Grand Theatre (Opera House) make Bordeaux a "must" destination complete with an array of restaurants, wine bars, and shopping galore with prices more advantageous than in Paris.