Eat, drink and sleep: Bordeaux (part four)
Author: Philip Moulin
Visiting Bordeaux is not quite the customer-friendly experience that is say, a day spent in the Napa Valley. Let us not forget that this is France, and generally speaking the customer is invariably… err… wrong. So, don’t expect anything to be open on a Sunday, and don’t expect anything to be happening at lunchtime, except for lunch of course. Probably best to avoid visiting in August as well, because most of Bordeaux will be at the beach.
That said, the sheer number of visitors here means that increasingly, châteaux are very well geared up to hosting winery tours and tastings. We could never hope to cover them all, but herewith a list of châteaux that we feel give a perfect flavour for the region – we strongly suggest you contact your own favourite châteaux before you go.
- Ch. Cos d’Estournel, St Estèphe: one of the most high-tech cellars in the world
- Ch. Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac: a very well done tour and a priceless collection of wine-related antiquity in the fascinating museum
- Ch. Margaux, Margaux: quite simply the most splendid of the First Growths
- Ch. Lynch Bages, Pauillac: one of our favourite visits, quintessential wines and a good tour
- Ch. Beychevelle, St Julien: possibly the most photographed château in the Médoc, with a fabulous view down to the Gironde, where once the passing ships would dip their ensigns to the “Amiral de Beychevelle”
- Ch. Giscours, Margaux: a huge country estate, complete with cricket pitch and polo field
- Ch. Gruaud Larose, St Julien: recently renovated tasting rooms and the view from the tower is unrivalled
St Emilion & Pomerol
- Ch. Beau-Séjour Bécot, St Emilion: tricky to find but worth it, for beguiling wines and the maze of cellars carved from the limestone beneath the winery
- Ch. Figeac, St Emilion: of all the châteaux in Bordeaux this is perhaps our favourite. There is something extraordinarily reassuring about Figeac. And the wines are superb.
- Ch. Clinet, Pomerol: a tiny property (as are most in Pomerol), run by the hugely engaging and energetic Ronan Labourd and his wife Monique
- The view from the top of the new tower at Ch. Gruaud Larose
- A tour of the limestone cellars beneath St Emilion – a number of châteaux do good tours but do some research – you want to find one with deep cellars
- A picnic beside the river – head to the Port de Beychevelle, for some peace and solitude beside the Gironde, with a wonderful view, back up the hill, to the gardens of Beychevelle
- Take the car ferry across the Gironde from Lamarque and visit the old citadel of Blaye on the Right Bank
- A day trip to Arcachon: oysters for lunch, followed by a hike up the Dune du Pila, the highest sand dune in Europe
If you missed parts one to three of our guide to Bordeaux, you can read them here.