Côtes de Bourg
Looking over the Gironde estuary, the Médoc vineyards and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, the port of Bourg has always been of strategic importance. Today it is famed more for its wines than for its cargos although there are several Roman ruins which attest to its rich history. With almost four thousand hectares under vine, this is a large appellation with around 200 growers.
Although it received its appellation status in 1936, the Côtes de Bourg declined to join the grouping of the Côtes de Bordeaux in 2008, believing that it had a strong enough identity to go it alone. This decision must have been called into question when, in 2015, the Côtes de Bourg was in the middle of a row over pesticides and was obliged to plant hedgerows to protect the population from vineyard treatments.
The wines of the Côtes de Bourg have always had a good reputation with a couple of well-known estates. One of the delightful journeys in Bordeaux is to take the 20 minute or so ferry ride from Bourg across the estuary to Lamarque in the Haut-Médoc on the opposite bank. The soils here are quite varied from sandy alluvial to clay limestone and the region benefits from the mild influence of the estuary and its maritime climate. Although there is a smattering of white wine made here (using Colombard and Ugni Blanc grapes among the other well-known white varieties, showing its proximity to the border with Cognac), this is again, red wine country. Merlot is the predominate grape but there is more Malbec grown here than in other Bordeaux appellations. The wines are spicy and fruity with good tannic structure.