Our France river cruise aboard the Uniworld River Royale continues!
Sweet dessert wines have a distinctly sweet taste and are not for every palate. You either love them or you don’t — there’s no in between. Our group was off to discover the region’s sweet wines on Day 6 of our Bordeaux France river cruise after docking Cadillac.
France river cruise
Cadillac (That’s pronounced Cad-eee-yack), France, is located in the Gironde department and sits across the Garonne river from Sauternes. The area is known for its sweet dessert wines under the Cadillac AOC designation. Unlike the other wines of the region, grapes used for Sauternes are happily afflicted by noble rot, a fungus that causes a raisin-like decay as the grapes’ water content evaporates. This phenomenon contributes to the distinct flavor. We were off to learn more…
Chateau La Tour Blanche
First up, our group headed out to La Tour Blanche, a chateau that produces a sweet white wine ranked as Premier Cru Classé (French, “First Growth”) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The winery, with construction that dates back to the 18th century, is located in Bommes about 40 kilometers south of Bordeaux and is part of the Sauternes appellation. In Sauternes, the three traditional grape varieties are Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle and the proportions at La Tour Blanche are 83% Sémillon, 12% Sauvignon and 5% Muscadelle.
One of the first things we learned as we toured the estate is that it’s actually property of the French state and also a wine school, the La Tour Blanche School of Viticulture and Oenology. But rest assured that the students’ vines and facilities are kept completely separate and that no students work on the production of the Premier Cru Classé wines.
After getting a behind-the-scenes look at the cellar and vathouse, we were off to taste the sweet wines. Keeping an open mind, Tom and I tried both options, the Tour Blanche and Les Charmilles de Tour Blanche, but decided they weren’t really for us. I’d say about half of our group really enjoyed the sweet wines and the other half didn’t really care for them as much. Only 45,000 bottles of the Tour Blanche are produced each year.
Lunch at Chateau d’Arche
A highlight of the day was the artisan lunch Uniworld arranged for the group at Chateau d’Arche. The Chateau d’Arche is available for weddings and is a stunning property that would please even the most discerning clientele. Stretching nearly 100 acres over the Sauternes appellation, the chateau boasts a 17th century manor house at its center which was transformed into a luxury hotel. And we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
The wine-pairing lunch took place inside the chateau in a beautiful space and we learned about the savory side of sweet wine pairings over smoked salmon and a delicious poultry dish. A peach melba finished off that meal and we sauntered back to the bus in the afternoon sun.
We then had the afternoon to ourselves before the Captain’s Gala Dinner that evening. Another beautiful day on our France river cruise!