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The next day, we anchor near Lamarque, in the heart of the Medoc wine region. The soil is a good mix of gravel, sand and clay perfect for red grape varieties, producing high quality full bodied reds, what we Brits used to call claret. On my way to Pauillac my ride takes me past many famous wineries but I’m saving my tasting for the famous Chateau Margaux in the opposite direction. Instead I content myself with a coffee and croissant on the delightful promenade facing the river and watch the sailors disembark in the marina. Another 20kms later, I’m in the town of Margaux and make my way to the Chateau. It’s an attractive 18th century Neo-Classical villa in extensive gardens but I’m disappointed to find that visits are by appointment only. That night we dock in the heart of Bordeaux, sailing past the city’s newest tourist attraction the Cite du Vin. It rises upwards like a giant inflatable toy, its circular tower all gold striped, resting on a shiny metallic base. The inspiration for the shape of the building is said to be a humble carafe, coupled with the swirl of wine in a tasting glass and it’s half museum, half theme park. Interactivity is the key and a special iphone-like device guides you through every aspect of the history and actuality of wine making across the world. Best of all, on the top floor, you can choose a glass of wine, whilst enjoying a stunning view of the city. I get on my bike and cycle out of Bordeaux on a disused railway line, totally empty of traffic. There are no vineyards here, just trees and swamp, and it makes a nice change in the landscape. Pictures: top right
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