Château de Cérons
Just to the north of Sauternes and Barsac, on the left bank of the Garonne, there lies a little village named Cérons. Today this town and its associated appellation, Cérons, is all but forgotten even by those who regularly turn to Bordeaux for their drinking. Sweet-toothed visitors pass the cool limestone walls and shuttered houses en route for Château Climens or Château d’Yquem, never stopping to think of the wines of Cérons, never pondering for a moment what used to be, or even why there is such a similarity between the name of Cérons the village, and Ciron the river, which locals would describe with conviction as the lifeblood of these sweet wine appellations. The two are, of course, intrinsically related.
Although today the Ciron flows into the Garonne between Preignac and Barsac, this was not always the case. During the 17th century the river meandered northwards, along the alluvial plain of gravel and sand that lay alongside the Garonne. Eventually the Ciron gave up its struggle for independence, draining into its larger companion at Cérons. The village was thus named for the river that once flowed straight through it, and there was even a small port built where the waters of the Garonne and the Ciron once joined.
There was a problem though. The Ciron (pictured above some way upstream, near the hamlet of Jean du Bosc) was prone to flooding, making travel through the region very difficult, and putting the numerous mills located nearby temporarily out of action. Each time this occurred the supply of bread to the citizens of Bordeaux would dry up, so it was a serious issue. Eventually, an engineer named Ferry proposed the cutting of a channel from the body of the Ciron at the Moulin du Pont, an attractive watermill that still stands today, between Barsac and Preignac, and into the Garonne. Work commenced in the early 18th century, and it was completed in 1750. As a result the flooding stopped, but in addition the Ciron flowed through Cérons no more.