We wanted to get out of Bordeaux to see at least one vineyard but wine tasting and driving don’t mix so renting a car was out. And we aren’t the type of travelers that enjoy large tours on a schedule. So, tram or train?
We decided on the tram after finding a cute little chateau not too far out. An easy tram ride to the outskirts of Bordeaux and we arrived in Blanquefort, a ‘commune’ of the Bordeaux metropolitan area.
We read that historic Blanquefort “has ruins of a small medieval fortress and a park, Parc de Majolan, built in the 19th century with a maze-like grotto”. Ruins and gardens usually peak our interest and we admit we can easily be sidetracked from our intended destination but maybe not today. Today, it was already well over 30°C/90°F when we exited the tram so we stayed with our original plan to walk the 1.2 kilometers to Château Saint Ahon. And a very warm walk it was!
At Château Saint Ahon we were warmly greeted by Lea, the host of the wine and gift shop prominently situated next to the winery and the château. Here you register for a wine tasting and a self guided tour of the gardens and property. Big black clouds threatened rain as we strolled the pathways spotting ducks, goats, horses, dogs, a stream, flowers and of course, acres of grape vines. The shop offered a selection of wine created on the estate, a variety of gourmet treats and other local products, making it easy for us to pull together a picnic to enjoy along with our wine tastings.
As we dined on our banquet in the shade we were entertained by a large truck/semitrailer masterfully hiding a complex bottling assembly line. This mobile bottling truck is known as a “Million Dollar Truck” because within it is all the equipment needed to sterilize, fill, cork and pack many different sizes of wine bottles and they can fill and cork several hundred cases of wine per hour. This onsite process allows wineries to label their wine “estate bottled”.
It was an amazing and efficient process to watch!
Château Saint Ahon, like so many buildings in France, was destroyed during the French Revolution, rebuilt during Napoleon’s time and restored in 1875. Château Saint Ahon is one of the last remaining wineries in Blanquefort and it is listed as a “Remarkable Monument”. Unfortunately the beautiful chateau is private property so tours are not offered.
Château Saint Ahon’s two mascots are their dog ‘Bidule’ and their donkey ‘Mirabel’. We mention Mirabel because their exquisite rosé wine is named after Mirabel. We tasted all three of their current wines and each was excellent.
To top off this lovely adventure a brass band boarded the tram back to Bordeaux at the same time we did. They played and sang to the passengers all the way back to Bordeaux. You have to love that!
— Ted & Julia