Total Immersion in Bordeaux
The Wine and Culinary Tour: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Cuisine
10 Days: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 - Friday, September 15, 2017
Accommodation: 9 nights:
|Night 1: Wednesday, Sept 06:|
|Grand Hôtel Français in Bordeaux, a refinded lodging in an 18th century mansion right in the center of old town Bordeaux with highly comfortable rooms, in walking distance to all interesting places.|
|Nights 2 + 3: Thursday, Sept 07; Friday, Sept 08:|
|Au Logis des Remparts in Saint-Emilion, a very charming, well tended historic 3plus star, upscale boutique hotel in the heart of UNESCO world heritage wine town Saint-Emilion with a stunning garden, beautiful views on the vineyards and a gorgeous outdoor pool.|
|Night 4: Saturday, Sept 09:|
|Hôtel Le B D’Arcachon in Arcachon, a 3plus star hotel with well designed, modern, very comfortable rooms at the end of the beach promenade in central Arcachon. The location is a stones throw from the beach and the bars and restaurants in town.|
|Night 5: Sunday, Sept 10:|
|Relais de Margaux in Margaux, a 4 star resort, spa, and golf hotel in a former late 19th century wine château, just in the back yard of famous Château Margaux.|
|Nights 6 + 7: Monday, Sept 11; Tuesday, Sept 12:|
|Hotel Le Vignoble-France et Angleterre, Pauillac, a very well equipped, privately owned 3 star hotel in the heart of the Médoc region, right on the waterfront of the Gironde estuary.|
|Nights 8 + 9: Wednesday, Sept 13; Thursday, Sept 14|
|YNDO Hôtel in Bordeaux. This new, first rate, luxurious 5 star hotel in the center of vibrant Bordeaux is an incredible place with gorgeous designs and exceptional rooms with great layout and exquisite furniture. The team and owner are like your hosts and make your stay an unforgettable experience.|
DAY 1: Wednesday, September 06
Arrival in Bordeaux, check-in at Grand Hôtel Français.
|02.30 pm Welcome drink and introduction to the Bordeaux wine region in the hotel.
|03.30 pm Departure at the hotel and short drive to Pessac.|
|04.00 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé.
This year’s tour of the Bordelais starts with a big bang. We are going to visit one of the most highly regarded Châteaux. The history of this Château is also closely intertwined with American heritage. It was founded in 1533, the same year as the neighboring Château Haut-Brion. In 1607 Château La Mission Haut-Brion was bequeathed to the Congregation of the Mission and became the property of the Roman Catholic Church. Napoleon’s secularization policies made it possible that a family from Louisana purchased the estate in 1815. In 1935 the American Clarence Dillon -also with roots in Louisana- purchased the next door estate Château Haut-Brion and later founded the Domaine Clarence Dillon. In 1983 the Domaine Clarence Dillon purchased Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Today Prince Robert of Luxembourg (great-grandson of Clarence Dillion, grandson of C. Douglas Dillon –US Secretary of the Treasury in the 60s, son of Joan Dillon who married Prince Charles of Luxembourg) is President of Domaine Clarence Dillon. General Manager is Jean-Philippe Delmas, 3rd Delmas generation being responsible for the Domaine Clarence Dillon Châteaux. Château Haut-Brion as well as La Mission Haut-Brion produce red and white wines. At La Mission 98% of the production is red wine, 2 % is white. 6 times Robert Parker awarded La Mission Haut-Brion 100 Parker points. In 2009 Liv-Ex (the world’s most important wine exchange) reviewed the 1855 classification and recommended that Château Haut-Brion should be elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classé, just as Mouton-Rothschild was elevated ito this status in 1973.
|05.45 pm Departure.|
|06.00 pm Arrival at Millésima in Bordeaux. Tour of the warehouse, and lecture.
In Bordeaux the wine merchants have always played a decisive part in the wine world. The buying and selling of wine, the setting of a price of a bottle of wine from a specific chateau for a specific vintage, the entire conduct of business is described as „La Place de Bordeaux“. The wine trade in Bordeaux goes back many centuries to the time when Aquitaine was English. Since then, set rules that appear mysterious to the outsider have been in place. We will visit a Bordeaux lover’s paradise, the prominent wine merchant “Millésima” where over two million bottles of top Bordeaux wines are stored and waiting to be shipped. A stroll through the vast storage rooms feels like being a kid in a candy store. We will be introduced to the rules, regulations, and peculiarities of the “Place de Bordeaux“. An English speaking expert will talk about the system “en primeur”, the role of the “courtier”, and will guide us through the impressive warehouse.
|07.30 pm Departure and short drive to the restaurant.|
|07.45 pm Dinner and wine at Restaurant L’Estacade in Bordeaux.
The restaurant literally sits on the Garonne river opposite of Bordeaux city center. The view on the illuminated Place de la Bourse is breathtaking and makes you fall in love with Bordeaux right away.
|10.00 pm Back to the hotel.|
DAY 2: Thursday, September 07
|09.00 am Check out of the hotel, drop off luggage at the bus, departure from Bordeaux city and drive to Saint-Emilion.|
|10.00 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Canon La Gaffelière, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé B.
Canon La Gaffelière belongs to one of the 14 Premier Grand Cru Classé B Châteaux in Saint-Emilion. Proprietor Count Stephan von Neipperg is a descendant of a German noble line dating back to the Holy Roman Empire. Members of this dynasty always played important roles in European history and politics, and have been making wine since the 12th century. The family still owns a wine estate in the Württemberg region of Germany, where their roots are. They also founded a winery in Bulgaria and make bold, hearty reds on the shore of the Black Sea. Count Stephan von Neipperg (see picture) will personally introduce us to his vision of sustainable wine making should he not be traveling to Germany or to Bulgaria, where there are other family wineries.
|12.00 pm Departure and drive to the village of Puisseguin Saint-Emilion.|
|12.30 pm Winery and vineyard tour at Château Beauséjour, Appellation Puisseguin Saint-Emilion.
For centuries the beautiful Château Beauséjour and the impressive Château Langais have been in the possession of the Dupuy family. Gérard Dupuy, the current owner, and his partner Claire will show us around. They have done extensive renovations of this old estate. Alain Dupuy, Gérard's father was a pioneer in organic winemaker in Bordeaux. Since 1947 Alain Dupuy has been convinced that the best wines stem from vineyards and cellars that are managed acroecologically, in harmony with the ecosystem. Since 1996 the Château is certified organic by “Ecocert”. Gérard will show us his vineyards and will explain to us his methods of biodynamic vineyard management.
|01.30 pm Wine pairing lunch at Château Beauséjour, Appellation Puisseguin Saint-Emilion.
We will enjoy a wonderful 3 course luncheon matched with the wines of Château Beauséjour in the newly renovated dining area at the château that served as the horse barn in the old days. Gérard Dupuis and his wife Claire will have lunch with us, and will talk about their wines. Gérard’s good friend is an excellent chef who used to run a restaurant in the vicinity of Saint-Emilion and he will prepare the meal. We will experience true, warm French hospitality when meeting the Dupuy family and by sharing this meal with them.
|03.30 pm Departure.|
|04.00 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château Cheval Blanc, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé A.
Château Cheval Blanc is one of the only four (Angelus, Ausonne, Cheval Blanc, Pavie) wine producing estates classified as premier grand cru classé A in the Saint-Emilion appellation. Château Cheval Blanc can trace back its roots to the 18th century. In the mid 19th century it was purchased by the Fourcaud-Laussac family who owned it until 1998. The tremendous success of the Cheval Blanc wines is due to the never ceasing efforts of the Fourcaud-Laussac family to pursue quality. The greatest achievement came in 1880 when Château Cheval Blanc was regarded as equal to the first growth in the Médoc. Subsequently prices for theier wines rose to the level of the wines of Latour, Margaux, Lafite, Haut-Brion. When the Saint-Emilion classification was established in 1954, Cheval Blanc was awarded the Premier Grand Cru Classé A status, which it defended every time the classification was revisited. In 1998 Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère bought the estate. They injected a dynamic new spirit which is epitomized by the construction of a new cellar. The ultra modern, futuristic architecture has now become a landmark in the sea of vineyards surrounding the Château. The vineyard size of about 100 acres has remained unchanged since the early days of the Fourcaud-Laussac family. Estate manager today is Pierre Lurton, a sibling of Henri Lurton, and Bérénice Lurton, whose wine estates we are going to visit later during our tour.
|05.30 pm Departure and short drive to Saint-Emilion.|
|05.45 pm Check in at hotel Au Logis des Remparts in Saint-Emilion.
This hotel is a gem. The rooms are modern and very tastefully decorated. It also has a beautiful garden and quite a big pool. It provides for total peace, tranquility, and fresh air.
|07.30 pm Dinner (beverages on your own) at a restaurant in Saint Emilion.
There are many restaurants in Saint-Emilion and I hope that the weather will permit us to dine outside on the beautiful medieval town square.
|09.00 pm An English speaking guide will meet us at the Tourist Information Center. and will lead us on a walking sightseeing tour through the beautiful town of Saint-Emilion.
By this time it is already night. Our guide will lead us on a nocturnal walking sightseeing tour. Everyone in our group will have a lantern, so that we do not trip walking over the uneven cobblestones. We will also visit the underground monuments and the spectacular monolith church hewn into the rock the town rests on.
|10.15 pm Back at hotel.|
DAY 3: Friday, September 08
|09.00 am Departure.|
|09.30 am Winery tour and tasting at Château La Conseillante, Appellation Pomerol.
The is one of the estates belonging to the upper echelon of Pomerol. The beginnings of Château La Conseillante go back to the mid 18th century. Madame Catherine Conseillan was owner and in charge of the estate and gave it its name. She had no heirs and the estate passed to relatives, was sold and bought a couple times and finally found its masters in the Nicolas family. It was Louis Nicolas, owner of a négociant business in Libourne, who purchased Château La Conseillante in 1871. Since then it has been continuously passed on to the next generation of the family and today the 5th generation is at the helm. In 1971 the estate underwent a thorough renovation and it was here that stainless steel, temperature controlled vats for fermentation were introduced. A second major renovation was completed in 2012 and concrete tanks were installed. This estate is relatively small – but typical for the right bank – compared with the châteaux on the left bank. 30 acres of vineyards belong to the château and 80% is planted with Merlot and the rest predominantly with Cabernet Franc. In 2015 a new director came on board, Marielle Cazaux, who studied enology at Bordeaux and was the director at neighboring Chateau Petit-Village before joining le team at La Conseillante. I personally love the La Conseillante wines; they are elegant, sensuous and harmonious.
|11.30 am Departure.
|11.45 am Winery tour at Château Le Bon Pasteur, Appellation Pomerol.
Pomerol is a tiny winegrowing region, located on the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela. Wine has been produced here since Roman times. Later the Knights of the Order of Malta cultivated the vines. In the Middle Ages, these knights established the Commanderie de Pomerol, which still exists today. Château Le Bon Pasteur was acquired by the Rolland family around 1920. The grandson of the original owner, Michel Rolland, well known around the world as “flying winemaker” and wine consultant, and his wife Dany, also an oenologist, created a model vineyard and produce outstanding wines.
|12.45 pm We will have a fabulous three course gourmet lunch with wine pairing at the Château.
A luncheon at this estate is always a treat, and also a lot of fun. Dany Rolland is a phenomenal hostess. Besides the excellent meal and the great wines, the table decoration is always an eye candy. She goes out of her way to creatively decorate the table with seasonal flowers, leaves, etc.
|03.15 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château Villemaurine, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Grand Cru Classé.
Château Villemaurine can look back on a history that goes back to the 7th century. During this century the Moors set up an entrenchement camp at this site called « Ville Maure », which eventually became « Villemaurine ». In 1874 the « Feret » (Bordeaux’s wine directory) mentioned Château Villemaurine as a « Saint-Emilion First Growth ». In 2007 the château was purchased by Justin Onclin, who immediatley invested heavily and modernized the winemaking facilities. Today Château Villemaurine is member of the exclusive « Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux ». The château sits right on the fringe of the town of Saint-Emilion, thus the terroir of its vineyards is clay and limestone. Due to its situation Château Villemaurine possesses an amazing network of quarries, -just like the ones we saw when we visited the undergound of Saint-Emilion- in which their wines age. The quarries strech over 17 acres four levels deep.
|05.15 pm Back at hotel.
The rest of the day is free for you to explore the narrow cobble stone streets of the spectacular medieval town of Saint-Emilion - a UNESCO world heritage site - perched on the edge of a plateau. There are also many wine shops and a fantastic “Maison du Vin” that provides for an excellent overview of Saint-Emilion wines. Dinner on your own.
DAY 4: Saturday, September 09
|09.00 am Check out of the hotel, and departure from the Saint-Emilion region.
|We will drive through the rolling hills of the “Entre deux Mer” wine region to Barsac in the Sauternes region.|
|10.30 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Climens, Appellation Barsac-Sauterne, Premier Grand Cru Classé.
Château Climens was first mentioned in 1547. Since then only five families called Château Climens their home, with the Lurton family being the last owner when Lucien Lurton bought the estate in 1971. In 1992 Bérénice Lurton, Lucien Lurton’s youngest daughter took over the reins at Château Climens. The estate sits on the highest point in the Barsac appellation and is surrounded by 75 acres of vineyard. The vineyard is entirely planted with Semillion - unusual for a Sauterne – which gives the Climens wines its racy complexity and freshness. Work in the vineyard is based on biodynamic principles and in 2011 Château Climens received the biodyvin certification.
|12.00 pm Wine pairing lunch at Château Climens.
We will learn that an ultra sweet Sauterne can be wonderful with a meal. Bérénice will teach us to match Sauterne wines with the exquisite multi course meal prepared by 1-Michelin star chef Claude Darroze, who’s restaurant is in Langon, not far from Château Climens.
|02.00 pm Departure and short drive to Podensac.
|02.30 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château de Chantegrive, Grave.
Marie-Hélène Lévêque will show us her winery. Château de Chantegrive is a large estate with 220 acres under vine on an exceptional terroir of gravel terraces. It produces both red and white Grave wines which are highly regarded by wine critics world-wide. Château de Chantegrive is member of the ‘Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux’, the Association of Premium Châteaux of about 140 members. This is a relatively young estate compared with the history of most wine estates in the region. Henri & Françoise Lévêque loved wine and were strong believers of the potential of the terroir in the Grave region, which convinced them to sell their superb stamp collection to acquire their first two hectares in 1966. 50 years later and some 220 acres further, their children have taken over. Marie Hélène Lévêque carries on the work of her parents with a dynamic passion alongside her mother, brothers, and sisters. In 2006 the Lévêque family called upon the services of Hubert de Boüard, owner of the famous Château Angelus, which we visited earlier during our tour, to act as consultant oenologist entrusted with the mission of taking the quality of Chantegrive wines even further.
|04.15 pm Departure and drive to Arcachon.|
|06.00 pm Check in at Hôtel Le B D’Arcachon, at the Eastern side of the Bassin d' Arcachon.
This hotel is situated right at the waterfront of Arcachon. The evening is free for you to explore on your own what the beautiful oyster town Arcachon has to offer. Enjoy the breeze of the sea, or the oyster and wine bars in town.
DAY 5: Sunday, September 10
|10.15 am Check out of hotel.
We can now comprehend how close the Bordeaux wine region is to the Atlantic Ocean and how this proximity to the Gulf Stream and huge body of water influences the climate and thus the terroir.
|10.30 am We take the ferry to the other side of the Basin d' Arcachon to Cap Ferret.
Cap Ferret, the oyster farm town, sits on the tip of the strip of land that shelters the Bassin d’Arcachon from the open waters of the Atlantic. Our bus and driver is waiting for us in Cap Ferret.
|11.15 am Arrival in Grand-Piquey, where we visit the Earl Ostrea Chanca oyster farm.
Ralph Doerfler loved the weekend family outings to visit his grandparents at their cabana on the Arcachon Bay when he was a child. It was then that he fell in love with the sandy beaches of the bay, the life style away from the hustle and bustle of Bordeaux city, and the smell and taste of oysters. Growing up he decided to study and learn everything there is to know about oysters. Ralph will show us how he raises his oysters. You can ask him any question and he will explain the entire circle of oyster farming. He will chuck the oysters and will let us taste. Delicious! These oysters are the freshest you can get. They come right out of water in front of your eyes.
|12.45 pm Departure and short drive back to Cap Ferret.|
|01.00 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at Pinasse Café.
Enjoy the restaurant which sits right on the water and provides for gorgeous views over the bay, the oyster farms and the village of Arcachon and the Dunes de Pilat, the largest in Europe, in the distance.
After lunch you have time to wet your feet in the water, or simply indulge in the view with a nice glass of wine.
|04.00 pm Departure from Cap Ferret and drive to Margaux, Médoc.
|05.15 pm Arrival and check-in at hotel Relais de Margaux in Margaux.
This hotel complex sits right in the backyard of Château Margaux. Its vast lawns sprawl up to the wall that surrounds the château grounds. Time to relax, to enjoy the spa, or to try the nice lap pool. Dinner is on your own. The hotel has a very nice restaurant and a fabulous wine bar with a fantastic list of top Bordeaux wines for very reasonable prices.
DAY 6: Monday, September 11
|09:00 am Check out of the hotel and departure.|
|09.15 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Palmer, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé.
Wine has been produced at this estate since 1748. In 1814 the vineyard was purchased by a General Charles Palmer (1777-1851), who served under Wellington in the British army against Napoleon. His lavish life style forced him to sell his property in Margaux in 1843, but despite this short period he left his mark; the property, vineyards and wine remain Château Palmer to this day. The Château changed hands multiple times until it was acquired in 1938 by a syndicate of four very prominent Bordeux families, the Sichel, Ginestet, Miailhe and Mähler-Besse families, forming the Société Civile du Château Palmer in the process. In the meantime the Ginestet and Miailhe families have pulled out. The heirs of the Sichel and Mähler-Besse families remain shareholders of the consortium. Today, the vines of Château Palmer cover a surface of 52 hectares located in Margaux and Cantenac, made up of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. The Palmer wines have consistently been rated as “super-second” Margaux and a recent tasting confirmed this.
|10.45 am Drive to Sankt-Julien.
|11.15 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Beychevelle, Appellation Saint-Julien, 4ième Grand Cru Classé.
This historic château is one of the largest properties in Bordeaux with 750 acres of land of which 250 acres are under vine. The château was constructed in 1565 by Bishop François of Foix-Candale and is well-known as the “Versailles of the Médoc” with its beautiful architecture, exquisite interior, and magnificent park. A sequence of illustrious, noble proprietors enlarged the buildings and made the garden into one of the most spectacular in the Bordelais. In 1875 Château Beychevelle was purchased by Armand Heine, the cousin of the famous German poet Heinrich Heine, who is best known outside of Germany for his lyric poetry which was set to music by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. Since 1986 the property belongs to the Grands Millésimes de France. Manager has since been Aymar de Bailleux. A huge renovation project was underway for several years and finished in 2016. The new cellars are surrounded by glass walls. The historical Château and the ultra-modern new cellar stand side by side in the beautiful park – the same synthesis of old and new that is reflected in the estate’s philosophy of excellent, terroir-focused winemaking.
|12.30 pm Following the tour we will enjoy a private gourmet luncheon at Château Beychevelle.
Lunch will be served in the beautiful historic dining room. We will enjoy a delicious three course menu perfectly matched by the wines of Château Beychevelle.
|02.45 pm Departure and drive to Pauillac.|
|03.30 pm Winery tour, museum tour, and tasting at Château Mouton-Rothschild, Appellation Pauillac, 1ière Grand Cru Classé.
Château Mouton-Rothschild -as we know it today- came into existence in 1853, when Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild - from the English line of the Rothschild family - purchased the estate - which was then called Château Brane-Mouton - and renamed it using his name. It was when his great-grandson Philippe de Rothschild took control over the estate in the 1920s that winemaking and wine selling changed drastically. In 1924 he was the first one in Bordeaux to bottle all his wines at the Château. The custom of having an artist design the labels started with this first bottled vintage. Since then each vintage features an original piece of art commissioned from the Rothschild’s circle of friends. Baron Philippe also introduced the idea of a “second label” which is now the “Mouton Cadet”. The vineyards total 200 acres. In terms of red grapes, 80% is Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. There is also Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, for the estate's white wine, which can only be labeled as Appellation Bordeaux Controlée, and not as 1ière grand cru classé, since there is no such thing as a white classified wine allowed in the Médoc. Last year we happened to come right during harvest time and we were able to see the winery in full swing working mood (picture to the left).
|05.00 pm Departure and drive to the village of Pauillac.|
|05.15 pm Arrival and check-in at Hotel/Restaurant Le Vignoble-France et Angleterre in Pauillac.
The hotels sits right at the waterfront of the Gironde estuary. The rest of the afternoon is free. Time to visit the “Maison du Vin” not far from the hotel on the other side of the street, to stroll along the banks of the Gironde, to explore the sleepy village of Pauillac, or simply relax! Dinner is on your own.
DAY 7: Tuesday, September 12
|08.30 am Departure and drive to Vertheuil.|
|Along the route we will pass the famous Châteaux Lafite Rothschild as well as Cos d’Estournel.|
|09.00 am Arrival in the village of Vertheuil.
We will visit the cooperage Berger & Fils and witness the fascinating art of making a “real” barrique. Berger & Fils is one of the top notch cooperages in France. It is a small family enterprise, founded by the father of the current owner and everyone working there strives to make the best and perfect barrique for the wine to ferment and mature to perfection.
|11.00 am Departure and drive to Saint-Estèphe.|
|11.15 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Lafon-Rochet, Appellation Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé.
This Château features some of the finest vineyards in the world. It is situated in the small appellation Saint-Estèphe and is sandwiched between two prominent neighbors: Cos-d’Estournel on the other side of the street and Lafite-Rothschild, separated only by a small dirt track, and visible across the vineyard that belongs to Lafon-Rochet. Since the 16th century this Château makes excellent wines and had been in the hands of the Lafon family for almost 300 years. In 1895 the phylloxera disaster forced the family to sell Château Lafon-Rochet. A period of a rapid succession of several disinterested owners followed until Guy Tesseron (who also bought Château Pontet-Canet) acquired the Château in the 1960s. He and then his son Michel brought Lafon-Rochet back to its former glory. The new generation is now at the helm and Basile Tesseron is energetically pursuing quality control. He recently made major investments, renovated the cellar and installed konkav shaped temperature controlled concret vats for fermentation (see picture).
|01.00 pm Departure.|
|01.15 pm Lunch menu (beverages on your own) at the restaurant Le Peyrat in Saint-Estèphe right on the banks of the Gironde.
It cannot get more French! Experience the true French everyday "savoir-vivre". This unassuming, very typical French restaurant is always packed for lunch, because it is the favorite hangout for the winemakers of the neighboring chateaux. Last time we bumped into the winemakers of Sociando-Mallet (see picture), who offered us to try their gorgeous 2005 Sociando-Mallet which they had brought to accompany their lunch.
|02.45 pm Departure.|
|03.00 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château Montrose, Appellation Saint-Estèphe, 2ième Grand Cru Classé.
Château Montrose is the youngest of all classified growth. The property however existed before it became a wine producing estate in 1815. The then owner pursued quality with a vengeance and after only 40 years of making wine the château made it into the 1855 classification and finished as second growth, an amazing success! In 1861 Château Montrose had 235 acres of vineyards, which remained unchanged until today. The Château can look back on three family owners, all of them were very ambitious, and worked hard to constantly improve quality. One of them -Mathieu Dollfus- was a visionary entrepreneur, and he managed to stop the devastating phylloxera by installing a windmill that bumped up water from an underground well to flood the vineyards, thus saving the vines. The windmill is now the hallmark of the Château. Current owners –since 2006- are the brothers Martin and Thomas Bouygues. They hired top people – Jean Bernard Delmas, previously at Haut-Brion, and Hervé Berland, who spent four decades at Mouton-Rothschild, to bring quality up even further. They undertook an extensive renovation project and converted the estate into one of the most environmentally conscious and energy efficient Châteaux.
|04.30 pm Departure.|
|05.00 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château Le Reysse, Vignobles Paeffgen, Appellation Médoc Controlée.
The Médoc sits north of St.-Estèphe, downstream on the Gironde estuary and embraces Pauillac and Saint-Julien to the west. Château Le Reysse was run by Patrick Chaumont, the second generation owner, for several decades. In 2010 Château Le Reysse was bought by Stefan Paeffgen (see picture), who holds a Doctorate in agricultural science and who in another life worked in the agriculture industry in his home country Germany and in Scandinavia. He always had a passion for the wines of the Médoc and at age 46, he was at a crossroad and made the decision to go back to practical agriculture. He searched for a winery and finally found this beautiful spot in Bégadan. He now owns four smaller win estates. Stefan and Heike Paeffgen, who also is an agricultural scientist, are very much in tune with nature and farm the vineyards ecologically. Château Le Reysse is the family's home. Stefan makes stunning wines and his wine of Château Clos du Moulin was awarded the Cru Bourgois classification.
|06.30 pm Following the tour we will enjoy a supper with charcuterie, cheese, baguette at Château Le Reysse.
Hopefully the weather will allow us to sit outside in the romantic garden.
|08.30 pm Back at the hotel in Pauillac.
Beautiful sunset over Pauillac.
DAY 8: Wednesday, September 13
|08.45 am Check out of hotel.
|09.00 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Léoville- Poyferré, Appellation Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé.
The Léoville Poyferré estate exists as its own domain since 1840, when the big Léoville property was divided into three smaller entities. The current owner, the Cuvelier family bought Château Léoville Poyferré in 1920. At that time the Cuvelier family was already established in the wine business as important wine merchants in northern France. Since 1979 Didier Cuvelier, who will be our guide, has managed the estate. Under his leadership, constant improvements have been undertaken, including a state of the art optical sorting machine in the cellar (see picture to the left) and the wines have become one of the most sought after in the Médoc.
|10.45 pm Departure from Pauillac.
|11.00 am Cellar tour and tasting at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Appellation Pauillac, 2ième Grand Cru Classé.
The history of this estate can be traced back to the late 16-hundreds and matches the history of its twin estate across the street, Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse de Lalande, until the Pichon estate became divided in 1850 due to inheritance circumstances under the Napoleonic laws. Château Pichon-Baron (for short) stayed in the de Pichon-Longueville family until 1933 when the last surviving family member sold it to Jean Bouteiller, member of a family well-known in the Bordeaux wine scene. His heirs did not manage to keep the quality of the wines and in 1987 the estate was bought by AXA Millésimes, whose goal was to enable great wines from vineyards with a glorious past to achieve their full potential. Total reconstruction of the fermenting room and cellars, and renovation of the château itself, began in 1988. Excellent terroir across from the 1st growth Latour property, stretching south bordering the Léoville estates in Saint-Julien gives the wines elegance, balance, and finesse. The elegance of the wines in combination with the beautiful, graceful Château, which is one of the most stunning ones in the Médoc, make this estate very special.
|12.15 pm Following the tour we will have a private lunch at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron.
We will be greeted in the beautiful salon with a Champagne and then move to the dining room where we will enjoy an excellent gourmet meal matched with the fabulous Pichon-Longueville-Baron wines.
|02.15 pm Departure and drive to Margaux.|
|02.45 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château Brane-Cantenac, Appellation Margaux, 2ième Grand Cru Classé.
This estate was founded in the 18th century and was bought by the great-grandfather of Henri Lurton, the current owner. The Lurton family belongs to the great wine dynasties in Bordeaux and plays an important role in the Bordelais. The branched out family has wine producing properties in many different appellations in the Bordeaux region. Henri Lurton (he is the pourer in the picture) is oenologist and totally dedicated to producing the best possible wines while at the same time caring about respecting the environment. He built a state-of-the-art cellar according to environmental aspects that houses the fermentation tanks while the barrique cellar remains in the oldest part of the estate.
|04.30 pm Departure and drive to the city of Bordeaux.|
|05.15 pm Check in at YNDO Hôtel in Bordeaux.
Enjoy this beautiful new hotel in the center of the city of Bordeaux. The rest of the day is free for you to discover the beautiful city. Dinner is on your own.
DAY 9: Thursday, September 14
|09.00 am Departure|
|09.30 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé.
The noble Bosq family started growing grapes here as early as 1365. The property was purchased in the 18th century by Scotsman George Smith, who gave the estate its present name. He also built the manor house and exported his – by now famous – wine to England on his own ships. Current owners are Florence and Daniel Cathiard. Both Florence and Daniel were professional skiers belonging to the French Olympic ski team in the mid 60s (with triple gold medal legend at the 1968 Winter Olympics Jean-Claude Killy). After their career in sports, Daniel built a supermarket and sporting goods store imperium and Florence an advertising agency. In 1990 they bought Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte with the wealth generated by the sale of all their assets. Daniel and Florence Cathiard invested heavily, restored buildings, replaced vats, constructed a new barrel cellar, converted vineyard practices to sustainable farming and paid detailed attention to hand picking, sorting, and practices in the cellar. They brought the quality of Smith-Haut-Lafitte wines to the level for which they were once renowned.
|11.15 am Departure.|
|11.30 am Cellar tour and tasting at Château Malartic-Lagravière, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé.
Château Malartic-Lagravière came into existence when Count Hippolyte de Maurès de Malartic, an illustrious servant to the Kings of France, bought the Domaine Lagravière. Malartic-Lagravière was always recognized for its outstanding terroir and the wines always had an excellent reputation. In the Graves classification of 1953 Château Malartic-Lagravière was one of the only six wine producing estates being awarded with the Cru Classé status for both, its red and white wines. Throughout the centuries the château changed hands several times, and one could witness some ups and downs. I quote Chris Kissack: “If we are to single out one figure responsible for the revitalisation of Château Malartic-Lagravière it is Alfred-Alexandre Bonnie”. The bonnie family purchased the château in 1966 and undertook major renovations, in particular in the cellar, to bring the château up to modern wine making technics. Today Jean-Jacques Bonnie -Alexandre’s son- and his wife Séverine are the ones in charge of the property.
|01.00 pm Picnic lunch at Château Malartic-Lagravière.
We will enjoy a light luncheon at the château accompagnied by their wines. If weather permits we will have a picnic under the trees in the park. The French cannot just have a quick meal. Even this "picnic" lunch is elegant and very tasty.
|02.30 pm Departure, and return to Bordeaux. Time on your own to enjoy the city of Bordeaux.|
|06.00 pm Departure from the hotel.|
|06.30 pm Winery tour at Château Haut-Bailly, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé.
At Château Haut-Bailly wine has been produced for more than five centuries. Like many Bordeaux estates, the property changed owners multiple times over the centuries. However, three owner families put their mark on the estate. In 1630 it was bought by the Le Bailly family which eventually gave the estate its name. In those days the château had about 80 acres under vine, roughly the same as today. There were many ups and downs during the centuries and by the 1950s the estate was in a sorry state. A wine merchant from Belgium, Daniel Sanders, bought the château in 1955 and started intensive renovations. His efforts proofed him right and Château Haut-Bailly was one of the 16 wine producers awarded with the Grand Cru Classé certification in the 1959 classification of the Graves estates. In 1998, Elisabeth and Robert G. Wilmers – he is an American banker, she is French – bought Château Haut-Bailly and spared no expenses to invest in the vineyards, winery, and the château to give the estate the possibility to keep producing top quality wines. Château Haut-Bailly is managed by Véronique Sanders, fourth generation of the Sanders family. Véronique Sanders and Robert G. Wilmers work hand in hand sharing the goal to produce top notch wines of outstanding character.
|07.15 pm We will enjoy a four course wine pairing gourmet dinner in the beautiful private quarters of Château.
We will start with Champagne either outside on the terrace or in the living room depending on the weather. If the weather is cold the ancient fire place will be burning to heat up the old castle walls. We will then proceed to the dining room and will be served a meal – worthy of a Michelin-star - prepared by the private chef. This exclusive dinner celebration in the private living quarters of the owner will be the perfect finale of our wine and gourmet tour.
|09.30 pm After dinner fun in the kitchen.
After dinner we will have the opportunity to tour the kitchen to personally thank the chef for his inspirational menu.
|10.00 pm Back at hotel in Bordeaux.|
DAY 10: Friday, September 15
|09:00 am Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
This is our last activity together. After breakfast the tour ends.