ST. GERMAIN du PUCH – Our press troup visiting Bordeaux is still anchored in the city at the heart of the world’s best-known wine region but the highlight of the day was a great lunch at a small cafe in this little town outside Bordeaux.

The first full day started with a short class on Bordeaux basics and ended with another fabulous dinner and one of the best parties alonge the Garone River at the Fete du Vin!

The highlight though was spending much of the day with Martin Fuego who manages tourism and some marketing for Chateau Lestrille in Saint Germain du Puch.

See photos from Thursday in Bordeaux here..

We visited his small village and the family winery and boutique gift shop at mid day. We tasked his great white wines and reds over a memorable lunch at L’Atmosphere in the center of town. It was the conversation about wine and food and the French wine industry that made it the highlight of the visit thus far.

We learned about Martin’s in-laws who have produced grapes for five generations at Chateau Lestrille. Martin’s wine Estelle has taken over for her father in recent years as winemaker to become the fifth generation.

Fuego told us how his estate, and others in Bordeaux, want to produce more white wines because of demand. He read the French menu for us and we feated on lamb, local pizza, a beautiful tuna tartar and scallops. It was a relaxed way to learn about French food, wine and culture that you can’t experience without being here.

Fuego acknowledges that getting more people ‘here’ is one of the big challenges for Bordeaux. The world’s best-known wine region is a latecomer to wine tourism. They are taking big steps, especially in the city of Bordeaux, but have a long ways to go to rival the Wine Disney World that is Napa.

We also talked at length about the challenges though. Martin and his wife have opened the small boutique, pictured at right, to welcome visitors/. He believes visitors who find the small French villages are reluctant to come up to a winery or even a tasting room if it doesn’t have the appearance of a normal shop. They carry plenty of wine accessories, some French milled soaps, and some food products as well.

Martin returned to Bordeaux with us to give us a walking tour of the cities shopping, restaurants, history and culture in the early evening. We dined at the festival at one of the restaurant’s booths. I hope to be able to post a full photo ablum that illustrates that and more of the day Friday or Saturday. Typical of most small European hotels, ours is nice but internet access is a bit spotty.

We then rushed off at 11 p.m. to the Bordeaux Sweet Wine Cocktail class complete with DJ. It might been one of the coolest parties in the world for a Thursday night. We slid under a rope line, just like the celebs – ha, and learned to make a sweet wine, peppers, champagne, mango cocktail. And it was pretty tasty.

The video below is a little rough considering, but it might show a small fraction of the fun

And just as we had shaken the cocktail and started sipping the nightly firewords lit up the Garone River and Bordeaux’s incredibly beautiful river front area.

Not a bad first full day in France.

On a negative note- still no luggage. The kind front desk staff tracked my luggage to the Bordeaux airport but they did not deliver it. Staff members for the CIVB, the local wine organization, are going to try to retrieve it for me Friday morning. While shopping for jeans and a pullover this morning I was reminded in the most humbling of ways that european men and boys tend to be tall and skinny. Enough said!

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