Sylvie Cazes, from the left bank to the right bank and the Cité du Vin

Sylvie Cazes is a redoubtable figure in the Bordeaux wine world. The first woman to hold the post of President of the highly prestigious Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, she’s  also owner of Chateau Chauvin, a grand cru classé estate in Saint-Emilion, director of luxury wine tourism agency Bordeaux Saveurs, owner of the Chapon Fin restaurant and President of the Foundation for the Culture and Civilisations of Wine and of the Friends of the Cité du Vin.

If anyone knows the wine and the region intimately, it’s Sylvie.

Sylvie Cazes  

We asked her for a few pointers:

 

What do you think are the main attractions of the region?

In a word: diversity.  There is a hugely rich diversity here - the region has so much to offer.  Within a relatively small perimeter you have Bordeaux - the largest city in the world classed by UNESCO (1,810 hectares of Bordeaux are listed a UNESCO World Heritage site), the vineyards  of St Emilion - the first vineyards in the world to be awarded the title of ‘Cultural Landscape’ by UNESCO  and of course the citadel of Blaye.  Then there’s Arcachon and the coast, another of the region’s treasures…. There’s so much here.

 

Where would you recommend locally to visitors?  What are your ‘must sees’?

It’s impossible to narrow it down.  There is something for everyone - going back to the diversity of the region - there’s a huge range of chateaux to visit, restaurants to try, places to see.  Something for all tastes, budgets and ages.

Where do you take your visitors when they come to town? 

I love the tiny alleys around Place St Pierre, so we go there. And to little Place du Chapelet, a hidden gem, tucked away in downtown Bordeaux.  And then of course there’s the Bassin - a visit to the seaside is a must.

 

If you had to choose a favourite wine region outside of Bordeaux, where would it be?

I am very fond of Burgundy which I find charming.  Having said that, all the vineyards all over the world have their charms - as the Cité du Vin showcases so well.

 

What about the local gastronomy?  What would you recommend? Is there anything you’d suggest to take home?

Much of the local produce is fresh and seasonal, so to take home would have to be the classic Cannelés or perhaps some wonderful local caviar d’Aquitaine.

To have sur place,  I would suggest first of all the duck as we are famous for our foie gras and some of the less well known duck produce such as the “grattons”, both of which go wonderfully with our wines. 

The local charcuterie is also perfect served with a glass of wine or two from one of the chateaux - I love the traditional jambon sec and the peppery grenier médocain which comes from the Médoc region.

Fish: the seasonal, local delicacy, Lamprey eel, cooked à la Bordelaise  is wonderful and is unusual as a fish dish that marries brilliantly with a robust Claret.  Then, of course, there’s the other local fish speciality, another seasonal dish for which Bordeaux is renown, the Alose.