A 72 Hour Bordeaux Wine Lovers Get­away

With a rich his­tory of pro­duc­ing some of the world’s nest wines since the 8th Cen­tury, this re­gion of France makes for a fas­ci­nat­ing jour­ney of the senses.

LuxeGetaways - - Travel Gear Traveling With Wine - By Tri­cia Conover

Bordeaux has al­ways been a mecca for wine con­nois­seurs. Bri­tish Roy­alty, Amer­ica’s Found­ing Fa­thers and wine col­lec­tors around the globe have all ap­pre­ci­ated the fi­nesse of the wines of Bordeaux. In the last few years, this fa­mous wine re­gion has pol­ished and up­dated its cities and vil­lages to wel­come the wine tourists. Though many vis­i­tors fly or drive in from Paris, Bordeaux is also now a river cruise stop cater­ing to wine lovers – pro­vid­ing great op­tions when ex­plor­ing this re­gion. To bet­ter un­der­stand the re­gion, Bordeaux is sliced down the cen­ter by the Gironde Es­tu­ary, which splits apart into the Dor­dogne River and River Garonne. As you will soon see, there are great dif­fer­ences based on the lo­ca­tion of the winer­ies within the re­gion – this is sim­pli­fied as “Right Bank” and “Left Bank.”

Find­ing the right itin­er­ary for Bordeaux re­quires an “exam” to de­ter­mine your wine pref­er­ences. Do you drink mostly Caber­net Sauvi­gnon-dom­i­nated blends? Then the left bank is your place. Do you love the Sauvi­gnon Blanc / Sémil­lon Bordeaux whites and the finest dessert wines in the world? Then fo­cus on the Graves and Sauternes sub-re­gions. Do you love the vel­vet sen­sa­tions of Mer­lot-dom­i­nated red blends? The Right Bank is your des­ti­na­tion.

Love all wines equally, and want to truly taste all that this re­gion has to of­fer? We have com­piled a com­plete 72-hour itin­er­ary to cater to your ev­ery wine de­sire. So book a lo­cal driver, sit back and taste your way through the vines and vine­yards of some of the world’s most cher­ished Bordeaux winer­ies.

DAY 1: WINE MU­SEUM – LEFT BANK PAUIL­LAC – HAUT ME­DOC

Fol­low­ing your ar­rival in Bordeaux City Cen­ter, start the morn­ing with a visit to La Cité du Vin. The lo­cals are very proud of their new wine mu­seum and restau­rant venue that opened last year, and for good rea­son. The mu­seum of­fers a vir­tual and in­ter­ac­tive view of the his­tory of wine, and the world’s premier wine re­gions. Make reser­va­tions for lunch with in­ter­na­tional wine se­lec­tions at Cité du Vin’s, Le 7 Restau­rant for a panoramic view of the city.

In the af­ter­noon, be­gin your Left Bank ex­plo­ration at Château Mouton Roth­schild, a Premier Cru Classé 1st Growth win­ery lo­cated in Pauil­lac. In 1855, Em­peror Napoleon III or­dered a Wine Clas­si­fi­ca­tion for the Paris Ex­po­si­tion, rank­ing each from 1st to 5th Growth, with 1st be­ing the best. Château Mouton Roth­schild is one of only five châteaux ex­clu­sively ranked 1st Growth. Fa­mous Artists such as Pi­casso, Cha­gall, Warhol and Dali have been com­mis­sioned since 1945 to cre­ate the front la­bel for each vin­tage. The Château Mouton Roth­schild’s “Mu­seum of Wine in Art” is a des­ti­na­tion in it­self, as it con­tains ex­cep­tional rare art, glass­ware and tapestries from mul­ti­ple cul­tures – meld­ing the di­a­logue be­tween art and wine. Take full ad­van­tage of this op­por­tu­nity and fol­low the mu­seum tour with a tast­ing of their most re­cent re­leases, which hap­pen to be some of the most ex­pen­sive wines in the world.

For your next vine­yard ex­pe­ri­ence, visit Château Paloumey in Haut Me­doc. Château Paloumey is a fam­ily-owned Cru Bour­geois win­ery that is not old enough to have been ranked by the 1855 Clas­si­fi­ca­tion. How­ever, their su­pe­rior wines are sev­eral of the real wine bar­gains of the Left Bank. Ar­range lunch with a wine tast­ing on the vine­yard ter­race in ad­vance, and ex­pe­ri­ence the ex­cep­tional hos­pi­tal­ity of this wel­com­ing fam­ily. A lovely hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence from start to fin­ish! Re­turn to Bordeaux for a din­ner at Le Pres­soir d’Ar­gent, Gor­don Ram­say’s Miche­lin star rated restau­rant at the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Bordeaux – Le Grand Ho­tel. Try the Sole d’Ar­ca­chon with caviar and oys­ter vo­lute – a de­li­cious spe­cialty.

DAY 2: GRAVES – SAUTERNES

First Growth rated, Château Haut Brion is the old­est (and small­est) of the First Growths, and is the first visit on the Graves itin­er­ary. Rarely seen to­day, here you will ac­tu­ally be able to wit­ness the oak bar­rels be­ing fired and tem­pered af­ter be­gin­ning the ex­pe­ri­ence with the view­ing of a his­toric film overview of the Château. You will also have an op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a tour and tast­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence what Thomas Jef­fer­son re­ferred to as his fa­vorite “OBrion.” Château Haut-Bailly is an­other clas­si­fied growth, and it fea­tures a ter­race wine tast­ing in a mag­nif­i­cent vine­yard set­ting. A pri­vate lunch is also an op­tion in their beau­ti­fully ap­pointed din­ing room. In­ter­ested in shar­ing your ex­pe­ri­ence with your friends and fam­ily back home? The Château Haut-Bailly staff un­der­stands the new wave in wine tourism trends and they ac­com­mo­date in­ter­na­tional wine ship­ping to sim­plify the process for you. The next stop is Sauternes – home to the most cel­e­brated dessert wines in the world. In this re­gion, mist and warmth cre­ate the per­fect cli­matic con­di­tions to pro­duce the “noble rot” that con­cen­trates the sugar in the grapes, and pro­duces the hon­eyed, apri­cot-scented and nutty sweet fla­vors as­so­ci­ated with the sweet Sauternes wines. Château d’Yquem is the most renowned wine of the re­gion, and a beau­ti­ful set­ting wor­thy of a visit.

Château Guiraud is just min­utes away, and is a Premier Grand Cru Château that is com­pletely or­ganic. They also pro­duce ex­cep­tional Sauternes, and the staff presents an en­ter­tain­ing and ed­u­ca­tional Sauternes story – the story of liq­uid gold.

To close the day, ar­range a pri­vate din­ner at the din­ing room of Château La La­gune, a 3rd Growth es­tate. Their chef, Cather­ine Ste­wart, al­ways se­lects a menu that re­flects a unique twist on tra­di­tional French cui­sine. Dur­ing my last visit, she fea­tured Braised Lamb Shoul­der with Honey Caramelized Car­rots; and for the dessert course, Red Wine Poached Pear with Vanilla Cus­tard and Madeleines. Wine­maker, Car­o­line Frey, over­sees the wine pair­ing to per­fec­tion – mak­ing this a must-try ex­pe­ri­ence.

mag­nif­i­cent vine­yard

set­ting

sexy vel­vet tex­ture

DAY 3: ST. EMIL­ION AND POMEROL - RIGHT BANK

Be­gin the Right Bank ex­plo­ration with a tour of

Château An­gelus – one of only four St. Emil­ion Premier Grand Cru Classé “A” winer­ies. As you ar­rive, your na­tional an­them might even be heard play­ing from their re­mark­able bell tower. A unique fea­ture here is the newly ren­o­vated tast­ing rooms and cel­lars. The sig­na­ture Château An­gelus wines have aro­mas of truf­fled black cherry and tobacco with sexy vel­vet tex­tures. Wine crit­ics of­ten award these wines with 94-98 points.

Pro­ceed next to Château Gazin in Pomerol, a neigh­bor to Pomerol’s most fa­mous and ex­pen­sive win­ery, Château Petrus (not open to the pub­lic). Château Gazin (like many Right Bank wines) is 90% Mer­lot, and is a mag­nif­i­cent ex­am­ple of a premier wine that shows “an iron fist in a vel­vet glove” tex­ture. The charm­ing own­ers/broth­ers Ni­co­las and Christophe de Bail­lien­court of­fer a ca­sual and per­son­al­ized tast­ing and vine­yard tour. Have lunch on the pa­tio of Miche­lin star rated

Hostel­lerie de Plai­sance, which of­fers a panoramic view of the moss-cov­ered walls of the me­dieval town of St. Emil­ion, a UNESCO World Her­itage site. The Chef and Som­me­liers here make sure that the small­est de­tails of cui­sine and ser­vice are grace­fully ex­e­cuted with pre­ci­sion. The Lob­ster cooked “à la chem­inée” with sea­weed but­ter is cer­tainly a tasty op­tion. Con­sider check­ing into the ho­tel for the evening to take full ad­van­tage of this el­e­gant sanc­tu­ary.

If you can­not de­cide among all of the Right Bank wines, con­sider vis­it­ing one of St. Emil­ion’s finest wine shops, Ets Martin. Ask Benoit Gaillard to pour you sev­eral sam­ples of his se­lected wines.

Con­sider en­joy­ing your fi­nal meal on this ad­ven­ture at Château An­gelus’ Lo­gis de la Cadene, one of the old­est restau­rants in St. Emil­ion. Sit on the pa­tio un­der a canopy of vines sip­ping the re­gions finest wines. And to fin­ish of your tast­ing tour of Bour­deaux, be sure to sam­ple a spe­cialty of the house, the Coin­treau Souf­flé with blood or­ange sor­bet.

Tip: For a real treat, ask to see the stash of

the world’s most highly prized wines in their un­der­ground

cel­lar.

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chateau Paloumey

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Chateau Haut Bailly

© Can Stock Photo / oleg­gawriloff

Pho­tog­ra­phy: GrapeS­tone Con­cepts

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Lo­gis de la Cadene

With so much more yet to dis­cover, we hope that your 72-hour Bordeaux Wine Get­away will set the stage for a fu­ture, and even more in-depth ex­plo­ration of the world’s most fa­mous wine re­gion.

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