Thursday, September 28, 2017

Total Immersion in Bordeaux: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Gourmet Cuisine - Bordeaux Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Picture: Tour at the Cooperage Berger & Fils in the Village of Vertheuil, with Simon Grelier, Managing Director - Total Immersion in Bordeaux: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Gourmet Cuisine - Bordeaux Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours, France

Led by Annette Schiller, the Bordeaux Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours took place from September 6 to 15, 2017. The group comprised 6 wine lovers from the United States, including Annette and Christian Schiller. This posting provides an overview. Future postings will focus on specific events of the tour. See the list of postings at the end of the article.

Annette Schiller: Our way of traveling allows wine lovers to fully experience authentic Bordeaux. "Bordeaux" embodies not only "wine": The interplay of wine and food is very important. Therefore our tour has a strong culinary component, with exquisite wine pairing lunches and dinners at the Châteaux playing a daily part of our journey through the Bordeaux wine region. Drawing on our love and deep knowledge of the region and close personal ties to many of the Château owners/ managers/ winemakers, our small group visits many of the hidden gems that other tours pass by, but which are essential to feel what Bordeaux is all about. In a nutshell: this is an on ground wine class on Bordeaux!

Picture: Annette Schiller in Bordeaux Before the Tour

Day 1: Wednesday, September 06

Arrival in Bordeaux, check-in at Grand Hôtel Français, a refinded lodging in an 18th century mansion right in the center of old town Bordeaux. The Grand Hôtel Français is in walking distance to all interesting places in Bordeaux City, with highly comfortable rooms. This hotel is part of the Best Western group.

02.30 pm Welcome coffee, meet and greet, and introduction to the Bordeaux wine region in the hotel.

04.00 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Grand Cru Classé de Grave.

This year’s tour of the Bordelais started with a big bang. We visited one of the most highly regarded Châteaux. The history of this Château is also closely intertwined with American heritage.

Harvest had just started and we were able to watch the arrival of the Merlot grapes at the winery. Barbara Wiesler-Appert was our host.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion 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 be elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classé, just as Mouton-Rothschild was elevated to this status in 1973.


07.30 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.

Day 2: Thursday, September 07

09.30 pm Visit of the Wine Merchant House Maison Ginestet in Carignan-de-Bordeaux.

Laurent Dupin from Maison Ginestet was our host.

We enjoyed a presentation by Laurent Dupin about how the Place de Bordeaux and the en primeur system work, toured Maison Ginestet and finished the visit with a tasting.

Wine maker Doug Fabbioli from Fabbioli Cellars in Virginia sells the wine he produces during the course of the year to the consumers who show up at his winery and by the wine directly from him. Wine maker Ernst Loosen from Dr. Loosen in the Mosel Valley in Germany, whose wines are available all over the world, works, I assume, with wholesalers in Germany as well as with importers from all over the world, who buy the wine from him during the course of the year. The wines of both Doug Fabbioli and Ernst Loosen are sold after the wines have been bottled and are ready to be consumed.

The way the system works for the premium Bordeaux wines is different. And it is unique in the world. The wines are sold well before they are bottled (en primeur system) and the wines are sold and distributed to the world through the 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 visited a Bordeaux lover’s paradise, a prominent wine merchant where millions of bottles of top Bordeaux wines are stored and waiting to be shipped. The stroll through the vast storage rooms feeled like being a kid in a candy store.

11.30 pm Departure and drive to the village of Puisseguin Saint-Emilion.

12.30 pm Winery tour at Château Beauséjour, Appellation Puisseguin Saint-Emilion.

Owner/ Winemaker Gérard Dupuy and his partner Claire were our hosts.

Ever heard of Gerard Dupuy and his Château Beausejour in AOC Puisseguin-St.Emilion? Probably not. Unless, perhaps, you are into organic wines. Château Beausejour is not one of the 300 or so winemakers in Bordeaux that produce a premium Bordeaux which sells en primeur for 50 to 500 Euros per bottle. No, Château Beausejour is one of the other 18.000 producers or so that are not in the limelight and that make so called petites Bordeaux wines. These producers have to struggle against the competition of wines from all over the world, including the New World. In my view, many of these petites Bordeaux producers offer very good value for the price.

For centuries Château Beauséjour and Château Langais have been in the possession of the Dupuy family. Since 1947 Gérard’s father Alain 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”.

01.30 pm Wine pairing lunch at Château Beauséjour, Appellation Puisseguin Saint-Emilion, with Claire and Gérard Dupuy.

We enjoyed a wonderful 3 course luncheon with the wines of Château Beauséjour.

We took the coffee at Château Langlais, where Claire and Gérard live. It is right around the corner from Château Beauséjour where Gérad’s mother still lives.

04.00 pm Winery tour and tasting at Château Cheval Blanc, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé A.

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 Cr 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 epitomizes by the construction of a new cellar. The ultra modern 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 visited later during our tour.

05.45 pm Check-in at hotel Au Logis des Remparts in Saint-Emilion.

Au Logis des Remparts in Saint-Emilion is a very charming, well tended historic 3 + star, very 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.

09.00 pm Nocturnal walking sightseeing tour through the romantic, spectacular medieval town of Saint-Emilion.

A guide lead us on a nocturnal walking sightseeing tour through the romantic, spectacular medieval town of Saint-Emilion perched on the edge of a plateau. We also visited the underground monuments and the unique monolith church hewn into the rock the town rests on. Saint-Emilion is a UNESCO world heritage site!

Day 3: Friday, September 08

09.30 am Winery tour and tasting at Château La Conseillante, Appellation Pomerol.

General Manager/ Winemaker Marielle Cazaux was our host.

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 the team at La Conseillante.

11.30 am Departure and short drive to Pomerol.

11.45 am Winery tour at Château Le Bon Pasteur, Appellation Pomerol.

Dany Rolland and General Manager/ Winemaker  Benoît Prevot were our hosts.

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, a highly regarded oenologist in her own right created a model vineyard and produce outstanding wines.

12.45 pm Three course gourmet lunch with wine pairing at Château Le Bon Pasteur, with Dany Rolland and Benoît Prevot.

Dany Rolland is a phenomenal hostess. She joined us with General Manager/ Winemaker Benoît Prevot us for the luncheon.

02.45 pm Departure and drive to Moulon, Entre-deux-Mers.

03.30 pm Tasting at Château La Mothe du Barry in Moulon, Appellation Entre-deux-Mers.

Owner/ Winemaker Joël Duffau and his wife were our hosts.

In 1985 Joël Duffau established his own wine producing estate in Moulon, the cradle of this winemaking and cooper family. Jöel represents the ninth generation of the Duffau family. He gathered experience outside of Bordeaux – Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rioja, California – before he settled in Moulon. He is in the process of converting to organic winemaking to better focus on the specific terroir of the Entre- deux- Mers region. We tasted wines that do not break the bank, but are delicious to drink.

05.30 pm Short drive back to the village of Saint-Emilion.

The rest of the day was free for us to enjoy Saint-Emilion. There are many wine shops, restaurants, wine bars, and a wonderful “maison du vin” to visit.

Day 4: Saturday, September 09

08.50 am Check out of the hotel and departure from Saint-Emilion. We drove through the rolling hills of the “Entre Deux Mers” wine region to the Sauternes region.

10.30 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Climens, Appellation Barsac-Sauterne,
Première Grand Cru Classé.

Alexandra Lemahieu was our host.

Château Climens was first mentioned in 1547. Since then only five families called 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.

12.15 pm Three course lunch at 1-michelin starred restaurant Claude Darroze

The restaurant is an ancient stage coach stop in the center of a typical French very laid back country village in the heart of vineyard country Sauternes and Graves. The cuisine of Claude Darroze concentrates on the traditions of France’s South-West region with a sophisticated twist, and every single bite is a culinary delight.

Sébastien Putcrabey and David Delieuvin are running the kitchen, under the supervision of Jean-Charles Darroze, who came to our table to welcome us.

02.45 pm Winery tour at Château de Chantegrive, Appellation Grave.

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, to act as consultant oenologist entrusted with the mission of taking the quality of Chantegrive wines even further.

04.30 pm Departure and drive to Arcachon, the famous oyster town at the Atlantic coast.

05.30 pm Check in at Hôtel Le B D’Arcachon.

Hôtel Le B D’Arcachon in Arcachon is a 3 + star hotel with well designed, modern, very comfortable rooms at the beach promenade in central Arcachon.

The location is a stones throw from the beach and the bars and restaurants in town.

Day 5: Sunday, September 10

10.30 am Boat trip from Arcachon to Cap Ferret.

We took the ferry to the other side of the Bay d’Arcachon to arrive in Cap Ferret, the little oyster farm town 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 was waiting for us in Cap Ferret.

11.00 am Arrival in Grand-Piquey, where we visited the Earl Ostrea Chanca oyster farm of Ralph Doerfler, including oyster tasting.

Oyster farmer Ralph Doerfler was our host.

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 showed us how he raises his oysters and guided us through the oyster tasting.

12.45 pm Lunch at Pinasse Café, Cap Ferret, with a gorgeous view over the bay, the oyster farms and the village of Arcachon and the Dunes de Pilat, the largest in Europe, in the distance.

During lunch we could watch the water to recede and the oyster banks to emerge. Some of us walked to the oyster banks after lunch to take a closer look.

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.

Relais de Margaux in Margaux is a 4 star resort, spa, and golf hotel in a former late-19thcentury wine château right in the back yard of the famous Château Margaux.

This hotel complex sits right in the backyard of Château Margaux. Its vast lawns sprawls up to the wall that surrounds the château grounds. Time to relax, to enjoy the spa, or to take a dip in the large indoor pool. There is a very nice restaurant on the premises as well as a wine bar with excellent classified Bordeaux wines at a very decent price point.

Day 6: Monday, September 11

09.30 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Brane-Cantenac, Appellation Margaux, 2ième Grand Cru Classé.

Owner Henri Lurton was our host.

This estate was founded in the 18th century and was bought by the great-grandfather of the current owner, Henri Lurton, in 1925. The Lurton family is part of the grand wine dynasties in Bordeaux and plays an important role in the Bordelais (we already visited Château Climens, which belongs to Henri’s sister). The branched out family has wine producing properties in many different appellations in the Bordeaux region. Henri Lurton 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.

11.45 am Winery tour at Château Kirwan, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé.

Owner Natalie Schyler-Thierry was our host.

Château Kirwan exists since the late 17th century. In 1710 Sir John Collingwood, a wine merchant, bought the property and established it as working vineyard. His daughter married an Irishman, Mark Kirwan and hence the name was born. Thomas Jefferson visited the châteaux in 1780 and had the highest praises for its wines. After Mark Kirwans’s death Camille Godard, a botanist and later the Mayor of Bordeaux, purchased the estate. His interest in the wines of Château Kirwan was somewhat limited, and at the turn of the century it was sold at auction, and acquired by the négociant firm Schroder & Schyler. Since 1950 Jean-Henry Schyler has invested heavily in the châteaux, and the vineyards, built a new barrel cellar, and brought Château Kirwan back to its former glory.

Today the château is managed by the next generation Yann, Natalie and Sophie Schyler.

01.00 pm Lunch pique-nique style with matching Kirwan wines at the château, with Natalie Schyler-Thierry.

03.15 pm Visit and tasting at Château Poujeaux, Appellation Moulis-en-Médoc, Cru Bourgeois.

Winemaker Christophe Labenne, from the family that used to own the estate, was our host

Château Poujeaux is a leading Cru Bourgois property that consistently produces wines of Grad Cru Classé quality. It exists since the 16th century and in medieval times it was a manor that belonged to Latour Saint-Mambert which later became Château Latour. In the 19th century it became its independent wine producing entity.

In 2008 Philippe Cuvelier and his son Matthieu took over the estate and hired consultant oenologist Stéphane Derenoncourt to bring the wines to an even higher quality level. Stéphane Drenoncourt is also consultant at Boxwood winery in Middleburg, Virginia.

05.45 pm Arrival and check-in at Hotel/Restaurant Le Vignoble-France et Angleterre in Pauillac.

Hotel Le Vignoble-France et Angleterre in Pauillac is a very well equipped, privately owned 3 star hotel in the heart of the Médoc region, right on the waterfront of the Gironde estuary.

Day 7: Tuesday, September 12

08.30 am Departure and drive to Vertheuil. Along the route we passed the famous Châteaux Mouton Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild as well as Cos d’Estournel. At the latter, they were ready to harvest.

09.00 am Guided Tour at the cooperage Berger & Fils in the village of Vertheuil.

Simon Grelier, Managing Director, was our host.

We witnessed the fascinating art of making a “real” barrique. Berger & Fils is one of the top notch cooperages in Franc. Only the top gun châteaux order their barrels here. It is a small enterprise, and everyone working there strives to make the best and perfect barrique for the wine to ferment and mature to perfection.

11.15 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Lafon-Rochet, Appellation Saint-Estèphe, 4ième Grand Cru Classé.

Anaïs Maillet, Chef de culture et responsable qualité, joined us at the tasting.

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.

01.15 pm Lunch menu with wine at the restaurant Le Saint Seurin in Saint-Estèphe, an unassuming, very traditional French village restaurant.

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 Château.

05.15 pm Winery tour and barrel tasting at Château Le Reysse, Vignobles Paeffgen, Appellation Médoc.

Owner/ Winemaker Stefan Paeffgen was our host.

The Medoc 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, 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 great 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 Dinner with the Paeffgen family.

Following the tour we enjoyed a supper with charcuterie, cheese, baguette at Château Le Reysse with Stefan and Heike Paeffgen and their 3 children.

Day 8: Wednesday, September 13

09.00 am Winery tour and tasting at Château Léoville-Poyferré, Appellation Saint-Julien, 2ième Grand Cru Classé.

Anne Cuvelier was our host. Didier Cuvelier joined us for the tasting.At the end we were introduced to Sarah Cuvelier, who will take over from Didier Cuvelier next year.

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 has managed the estate. Under his leadership, constant improvements have been undertaken, including a state of the art optical sorting machine in the cellar and the wines have become one of the most sought after in the Médoc.

11.15 am Cellar tour and tasting at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Appellation Pauillac, 2ième Grand Cru Classé.

Nicolas Santier, responsable du développement réceptif et tourisme, was our host. During the tour, we met Jean-Rene Matignon, Technical Director.

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 had a private Lunch at Château Pichon-Longueville-Baron, with Nicolas Santier

We were greeted with a Champagne followed by an excellent gourmet meal matched by the fabulous Pichon-Longueville-Baron wines.

02.00 pm Winery tour, and tasting at Château Beychevelle, Appellation Saint-Julien, 4ième Grand Cru Classé.

General Manager Philippe Blanc joined us for the tasting.

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.

05.00 pm Check in at 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.

Annette and I went out for dinner in a typical brasserie.

Day 9: Thursday, September 14

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.

11.45 am Winery 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 Lunch at Château Malartic-Lagravière.

06.00 pm Departure from the hotel.

06.30 pm Winery tour of Château Haut-Bailly, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan,
Grand Cru Classé.

Diana Paulin was our host.

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.

7.30 pm Winepairing Dinner in the Private Quarters of Château Haut-Bailly

Diana Paulin joined us for the dinner.

We enjoyed a four course wine pairing gourmet dinner in the beautiful private quarters of the château. We started with Champagne in the living room. We then proceed to the dining room were served a meal – worthy of a Michelin-star - prepared by Chef Jean-Charles Poinsot.

After dinner had the opportunity to tour the kitchen to personally thank the chef for his inspirational menu. This exclusive dinner celebration in the private living quarters of the owner was the perfect finale of our wine and gourmet tour.

10.00 pm Back at hotel in Bordeaux.

Day 10: Friday, September 15

09.00 am Breakfast at the hotel.

This was our last activity together. After breakfast the tour ended.

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