A Joyful Walk in the Bordeaux Vineyards of Rauzan

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In which the author takes part in a joyful musical wine and food walk through vineyards in the Entre-Deux-Mers zone of the Bordeaux winegrowing region organized by the Caves de Rauzan wine cooperative. A video follows at the bottom of the article. Rauzan’s next “promenade gourmande” takes place on June 12. 

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A small wine doesn’t mean a small time. Wine drinker knows that. Wine travelers knows that better.

So it is in the vineyards of the ordinary—I use that term fondly—Bordeaux produced in the region’s Entre-Deux-Mers zone, lying between the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers. Far removed from the evocative, well-dressed chateaux and labels of Margaux, Latour, Lafite, Haut-Brion and Mouton et al., here we are much closer to the Bordeaux of cafés, easy-going restaurants and French supermarkets. You don’t post a photo of a bottle of these wines, you post a photo the friends you share it with.

Oysters and Entre-Deux-Mers wine in the Rauzan vineyards. GLK
Oysters and Entre-Deux-Mers wine in the Rauzan vineyards. GLK

Each year on the second Sunday of June, you can share some with 2100+ friends as the wine cooperative Les Caves de Rauzan organizes a walk in the vineyards, a day of wine, food, music and viticultural brotherhood on the edges of the small town of Rauzan (population 1100). Rauzan is 30 miles east of Bordeaux and 10 miles south of Saint Emilion.

Les Caves de Rauzan represents more than 400 growers totaling 8649 acres (3500 hectares) in the Entre Deux Mers zone of the Bordeaux winegrowing region. While the individual growers take care of their vineyards, the cooperative takes care of the winemaking. Recent mergers of the cooperatives of Rauzan, Grangeneuve and Nérigean, each with its own site of vinification, have made Les Caves de Rauzan the largest producer of appellation wines in France, primarily AOC Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur and Entre-Deux-Mers.

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The vast majority of the vines in the zone produce red grapes—merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon—blended for the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur. The white grapes—sauvignon blanc, semillon, muscadelle—are blended for the Entre-Deux-Mers. All told, the cooperative produces 176000 hectoliters of wine. That’s the equivalent of about 25 million bottles: 70% red, 15% white, 15% rosé. Eighty percent is sold by wine trading merchants under a wide assortment of labels. The rest is sold directly.

Cellar treasures? No. These are young and relatively low-end wines on the Bordeaux scale. Oak-heads should look elsewhere, though they’ll certainly enjoy themselves at the party in the vines.

All ages are welcome as the event draws hikers, bon-vivants, couples, families and groups of friends or co-workers. The 3.7-mile (6K) walk or “promenade gourmande” takes place in seven musical and appetizing steps from mid-morning and through the afternoon: welcome, aperitif, oysters, foie gras and cold cuts, entrecote (rib steak), cheese and dessert.

Within the ruins of the Chateau de Rauzan, participants are greeted by the Order of Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur Winegrowers (and a jazz trio) and are ceremoniously given a glass and a collar glass holder, turning each person into wine pilgrim of sorts.

The Order of Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur Winegrowers, welcoming committe for the "promenade gourmande" Rauzan. Photo GLK.
The Order of Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur Winegrowers, welcoming committe for the “promenade gourmande” Rauzan. Photo GLK.

Departures every 15 minutes from 10am to 1pm keep the 2100+ participants from bunching up in any one stop. Pilgrims proceed at their own pace, lingering as long as they want at any one station. Nevertheless, a bottleneck inevitably forms at the vine-grilled entrecôte stop where the accumulation of wine and now the steak and marching band help bring the atmosphere to its most joyful pitch.

Watch this video and join the party in the vines.

For more information about this walk in the vineyard see the site of Les Caves de Rauzan.

© 2016, Gary Lee Kraut

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