Sip and Sleep
WHEN IN BORDEAUX, a château stay is a must. More intimate than hotels, these family-run estates offer an in-depth experience among the vines—not to mention a chance to
sample the newest vintages.
Perched on a hilltop in the heart of the Sauternes region, this 400-year-old estate recently reopened under the auspices of Swiss entrepreneur Silvio Denz with 13 rooms and suites and a gourmet restaurant. The house grand crus are especially palatable thanks to Denz’s house collection of Lalique glassware. lafaurie peyragueylalique.com NAPA VALLEY THIS IS NOT. Though Bordeaux’s Borde legendary châteaux are increasingly rolling ro out the welcome mat for visitors, many of o the region’s most highly regarded labels only open their doors for a select few. Enter Mary M Dardenne, whose Decanter Tours (decantertours.com) (decan holds the key to tastings at elusive elus wineries like Châteaux Latour and Lafite Rothschild. Here, she takes us inside Bordeaux’s Borde best.
How d do you decipher the different crus? There are huge contrasts in Bordeaux. Most visitors don’t realize that only five percent of the thousands of properties in the region are classified as premium châteaux. The rest are attainable, affordable, and accessible. Visitors
LES SOURCES DE CAUDALIE
This countryside château set among the cru vineyards of the Smith Haut Lafitte wine estate is a beloved retreat as much for its Caudalie spa (where you can soak in a grapeinfused barrel bath) as for its Michelin two-star La Grand’Vigne (featuring one of Bordeaux’s most extensive wine lists). sources-caudalie.com
THE CHARTREUSE AT COS D’ESTOURNEL
The private residence of Cos d’Estournel is Bordeaux’s most exclusive rental property. Designed by Jacques Garcia, it comes with six bedrooms, two suites, a private hammam, a gym, indoor and outdoor pools, and, of course, the best selection of Cos d’Estournel vintages. estournel.com often remark that they are surprised at the diversity in Bordeaux—not only of the soils and grape varieties, but also of the wine styles, types of people, and châteaux.
What’s the best strategy for experiencing that large diversity?
We try to plan a mix of bling châteaux—like Pavie or Mouton [Rothschild]—and familyowned châteaux. We also suggest visits [that] are exceptional and surprising, like Lamothe Bergeron, a château that most people may not have heard of but that offers a unique tour.
How do we get into the grand crus?
We have access to all the most famous wineries, but I would caution a word of advice: Plan at least six months in advance. Most of the top properties are not in the tourism business and
This welcoming 17thcentury charterhouse near Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac has 28 simple rooms overlooking its famous vineyards. Chef Julien Lefebvre runs the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where the contemporary cuisine is designed to be enjoyed with the region’s most famous grand crus. relaischateaux.com
Sunset at Château LaFaurie-Peyraguey
generally only offer one or two visits per day.
Which winery is a must-see right now? Château Sigalas Rabaud, the smallest first classified growth in Sauternes. It has a new terrace where you can enjoy an aperitif with views over the vines, and you’ll likely be welcomed personally by a member of the family—perhaps even the Count of Sigalas himself.
What are the best châteaux for a meal?
In the Medoc, I like to have lunch at
Château Pichon Longueville Baron; it’s very exclusive and just what one expects of a château experience. We also offer a picnic on Saturdays at Château La Croizille in Saint-Émilion for a more informal experience. The château is located on a hillside with plunging views, and we have a picnic table amongst the vines.