I still remember it to this day. The first time I visited Bordeaux was with my Dad, and we headed into the centre of Saint Émilion on our first day to have a look around. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? A couple of visitors centres and local caves later and we had an impression that we might, just might, have paid a bit over the odds for some bottles. Skip forward 24 hours, we met JB of 20h33 for the first time, and he (trying not to laugh) informed us we’d paid nearly double. As a penny pinching northerner, there are few worse feelings!
Our big problem was that Saint Émilion, the stunning village in the centre of one of the most famous wine regions in the world, is a tourist trap. Plain and simple. Now you can’t begrudge the vendors who are there, they’ve got the opportunity to make a couple of quid, and it’s also an expensive place to have your shop. All in all, the prices will be higher. But that didn’t make me feel better at the time.
Now when I visit wine areas I’ve got a sixth sense as to where I can get value, and where I’m going to get rinsed. Last week’s trip down to Italy and back saw me spend a day in Troyes (southern Champagne) and one in Beaune (the centre of Burgundy). I’d never visited either, and am glad I experienced both. Where would I return to? Troyes, absolute no brainer. For all its historical charm, very pleasant people, and undoubtedly great wines, Beaune was a tourist trap. Everything was €10 more expensive than it needed to be, and that just makes me (being me) enjoy it a bit less.
Tourist traps are what they are. The reason tourists flock there in the first place is that there are some great things to see, do, and experience. But for me, once you’ve done, seen, and experienced what you need, it’s time to get the hell out of dodge and find the place down the road. They’re out there too, you know!