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City life BORDEAUX

Bordeaux had long been France’s Sleeping Beauty, snoozing in its southwestern corner. But after years of sprucing up, the wine capital of the world is wide-awake and ready for a close-up.
La Grosse Cloche

Here in front of me at Le Boutique Hôtel, in his crisp black and white uniform, Rémi is pouring three mystery French reds into glasses. “First,” he says, waving his hands around like a sorcerer, “you need to take in the aromas, to smell the bouquet.” He raises a glass to his nose, swirling the garnet-coloured wine and taking audible sniffs. “What do you think?” he asks, urging me to take a sip. I’m no expert; any conclusions I come to are very much aided by his encouraging nods and suggestions. But, with every sip of the heady reds I begin to taste what he’s preaching. There are hints of plum and cherry, and somewhere woodiness, blackberry, cinnamon. I quickly become just as engrossed as he is. He places the glass down and beams with pride. “C’est magnifique, non?”

It’s difficult not to get as enthused as Remi about wine in this city; it is, after all, soaked into its very fabric. Wine has been produced in Bordeaux since the first century when the Romans arrived, and the local obsession has never stopped. Throughout Bordeaux’s rich history, wine has remained a constant mark of the city’s wealth and success. And as the world’s largest exporter, things don’t seem to be changing — the region corks more than 750 million bottles every year. The English have played a part in it all, too. Centuries ago, they became hooked on Bordeaux’s wines and have been in a long-distance relationship with the city ever since.

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About National Geographic Traveller (UK)

From ancient villages to stories from the locals, we uncover some of the Aegean Sea’s most gleaming pearls as we island-hop across the paradise idylls of Greece’s Cyclades. Elsewhere, we discover authentic Maori culture in New Zealand; wind our way along the Volga in Russia; and spend a long weekend in Tunis. Our urban highlights this issue include Istanbul, Lisbon, Mumbai and Bordeaux while our photo story introduces the freedivers of Jeju Island in South Korea.