Bordeaux: city of hats and hairdressers

Judging of the Concours Mondial takes place at a leisurely pace: yesterday 50 wines, today 48 – about what you’d expect to do at an SA wine show before the rooibos tea and Chelsea buns. Which could explain the schoolboy howlers some local shows dish up. The relaxed schedule leaves loads of time free for sightseeing, although yesterday’s scheduled visit to Planet Bordeaux – a Disney-like realization of the wine experience – arranged by the show organizers, had me jumping on a tram in the opposite direction.

hat Bordeaux: city of hats and hairdressers

First stop was a barbecue steak house and a kilo of Charolais beef and a bottle of Château le Bosq 2001. Thereafter it was a walking tour of the town which is a pleasure as cars are banned from the inner city. Bordeaux is the anti-supermarket experience as there are shops dedicated to the most unusual endeavors: one sells just macaroons in any flavor you can think of, including foie gras. There are several hat shops and hairdressers galore. I’ve included a shot of Falbalas St. Julien as I was quite taken by the name, but the one below has the best chapeaux.

hat1 Bordeaux: city of hats and hairdressers

The mark-up on wine in restaurants seems quite modest – around 25% – judging by my admittedly limited sample. For dinner, assorted cheeses plus a plate of white truffles and ceps on toast and a bottle of Rabaud Promis Sauternes 1989 for €60. Fabulous.

The collapse of the tourist guide cottage industry following the revelation that publications like Lonely Planet are sometimes compiled by impoverished sex-maniac freelance hacks who Google the internet – visiting the (web) sites rather than seeing the sights – started me thinking about those SA restaurant guides that pay R150 per entry (and that includes the meal). While on the subject, what precautions do wine guides take to ensure tasting notes are not a rehash of magazine tastings or producer handouts? Yet another killer argument against sighted tastings for wine guides, I would have thought.