A stroll around the Côtes de Bourg

Bourg © T. Joly
Situated near Bordeaux, on the right bank of the Dordogne and the Gironde, the AOC Côtes de Bourg produces excellent red and white wines. In addition, this region boasts a rich heritage and pleasant landscapes.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
570 km from Paris on autoroutes A6b and A10 till exit 39a, then on N10 and D669 till Bourg.
- By train
TGV from Paris Montparnasse to Bordeaux, then TER from Bordeaux to Saint André de Cubzac and Trans Gironde bus from Saint André de Cubzac to Bourg.
- By plane
Flights from several French and European cities to Bordeaux-Mérgnac airport.
- Hotels
La Closerie des Vignes, in Saint-Ciers de Canesse
Les Trois Lis, in Bourg
- Bed and Breakafast
La Castel de Camillac, in Bourg
Le Petit Brésil in Bourg
Le Clos de Maris, in Bourg
Châteaux Les Tours Seguy, in Saint-Ciers de Canesse
Château Mercier, in Saint-Trojan
Château Les Eyguems, in Tauriac.
L’Hippocampe Bleu, in Bourg
La Plaisance, in Bourg
La Closerie des Vignes, in Saint-Ciers de Canesse
Les Places, à LansacL’Etrier d’Argent, in Pugnac
Popote de l’Antiquaire, in Pugnac
La Filadière, in Gauriac
Le Pierr’eau, in Gauriac
Getting around
It is necessary to have a car to get to the wineries.
Bourg-sur-Gironde Tourist Office
Tel : 0557683176
Do you know what is the “Petite Suisse Girondine” ?.. It’s the region (area) where are produced the Cötes de Bourg wines, an AOC located about thirty km away from Bordeaux on the right bank of the Dordogne and the Gironde, opposite Médoc. There are two reasons for this nickname. The weather that never gets too harsh thanks to the body of water of the Gironde - Europe’s largest estuary – formed by the junction of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.

Côtes de Bourg vineyard © T.Joly
 Renowned red wines
The landscape made up of rolling hills covered with vineyards, farmland and woods spotted with villages, hamlets and chateaux of wine estates.
Covering almost 3 800 ha, the vineyard is known and renowned for its medium-body and quite tannic reds with red fruits aromas that are made from merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec. These four grape varieties actually account for more than 90% of the planted surface. However, some estates also produce excellent crisp, fresh and fruity white wines from Sauvignon blanc, sauvignon gris, colombard, Semillon and muscadelle grapes varieties. Make sure to taste one during your stay in the region, you won’t be disappointed.
Since long favouring low yields ensuring quality, the Côtes de Bourg winemakers decided in 2009 to keep their independence and not join the new Côtes de Bprdeaux appellation as did, for instance, their counterparts of Côtes de Blaye.

Maison du Vin © T.Joly
 Open doors day in May
Most of the wineries are open to visitors for cellar tours and wine tasting and also participate in an open door day usually held in May. A few of them even offer the possibility to take part in the grape harvest. Besides, they present their wine alternatively during free wine tasting held at the Maison du Vin des Côtes de Bourg. Set up in a wealthy 19th residence overlooking the Dordogne river, it’s the showcase of the wines of the appellation and it provides information about the grape varieties, the soils and the characteristics of the terroir. It also has a shop selling about 150 different wines at cellar price, organizes introductory wine tasting courses as well as art exhibitions and welcomes tourists for tasting included in weekend and day stay packages sold by the tourist office to discover the town of Bourg-sur-Gironde.

Bourg © T.Joly
 Fortified town
Built on a rocky outcrop, it is worth a few hours visit as it keeps ramparts, fortified gates, old houses, steep picturesque streets connecting the harbour and the upper town as well as a castle with astonishing underground galleries that also houses a carriage museum. These monuments testify to its glorious and wealthy past. As its full name reminds of, originally it wasn’t situated along the Dordogne. The Bec d’Ambes, the island standing at the confluence of this river with the Garonne was then smaller and Bourg occupied a strategic position on the banks of the Gironde. Travellers coming from the North boarded there to cross the estuary and go to Bordeaux while ships came there to load building stones, salt and wine that were exported, notably to England. In 1650, young King Louis XIV even stayed in town for more than a month.

Pair-non-Pair cave © T.Joly
 A rich heritage
In partnership with the fifteen municipalities of the region and the tourist office, the winemakers also contributed to the creation of footpaths, mountain bike and horse trails crisscrossing the appellation as well as discovery itineraries which you can follow at your own pace thanks to a map, an explanatory guide book and an audio guide. Available in French and in English at the tourist office, they lead you to the most interesting historic, natural and architectural places in Bourg and the surroundings. At Prignac-et-Marcamps you will find former quarries and the prehistoric cave of Pair-non-Pair whose walls are decorated with 30 000 years old parietal engravings depicting horses, ibex, mammoths and deer. At Bayon-sur-Gironde, Lansac and Tauriac stand 12th century Romanesque churches, at Villeneuve a 15th century castle. Near Lansac, on the top of a hill offering a panoramic view over the vineyards and the estuary, the 19th century windmill of Grand Puy has been restored and produces flour again.

Bank of the Gironde © T.Joly
 Fishing in the Gironde
As to the banks of the Gironde, they are lined with wealthy residences, troglodytic dwellings and locals still go fishing for shad, sea lamprey and pink shrimps with square fishing nets called haveneau and carrelet. In addition to these itineraries, nine “Windows onto the estuary” have been set up on sites of special interest. Having diverse shapes such as an orientation table, a viewing platform, a stele, a compass rose or a ziggurat, they provide information about geography, history, fauna, flora, sailing, seaborne transportation and so on. And if you want to sail on the estuary, at some period of the year, the tourist office offers cruises on the Dordogne and the Gironde that can be supplemented with a winemaker-led tasting of Côtes de Bourg wines.

August 19, 2011
Thierry Joly 

[ Wines ]

During our visit we particularly enjoyed wines from the following wineries :
Château Martinat
Château Genibon
Château Mercier
Château Fougas
Château Haut Launay
Château Grand Launay
Château de la Grave
Château La Croix-Davids
Château Les Tours Seguy
Château de la Brunette
Château Montfollet
Château Puy Descazeau
Château Laroche
- Information
Maison du Vin des Côtes de Bourg
1 place de l’Eperon, 33170 Bourg-sur-Gironde.
Tel : 0557948020