Below is what you experienced on our previous tour.

Bordeaux - ITINERARY

Total Immersion in Bordeaux

The Wine and Culinary Tour: World Class Wines and Exquisite French Cuisine

10 Days: Tuesday, September 01, 2020 - Thursday, September 10, 2020
Accommodation: 9 nights:
Night 1: Tuesday, Sept 01:

Hôtel Hilton Garden Inn in Bordeaux, a new (opened in July 2018), modern, comfortable hotel with for French standards very spacious rooms overlooking the Garonne river and with a great fitness center in walking distance to the main train station of Bordeaux.

 
Nights 2 + 3: Wednesday, Sept 02 and Thursday, Sept 03:

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.

 
Nights 4 + 5: Friday, Sept 04 and Saturday, Sept 05:

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

 
Nights 6 + 7 + 8: Sunday, Sept 06 and Monday, Sept 07 and Tuesday, Sept 08:

Hôtel 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.

 
Night 9: Wednesday, Sept 11:

Hôtel Hilton Garden Inn in Bordeaux.

 

DAY 1: Tuesday, September 01

Arrival in Bordeaux, check-in at Hôtel Hilton Garden Inn in Bordeaux.
 

AFTERNOON

Welcome drink and introduction to the Bordeaux wine region in the Hôtel Hilton Garden Inn in Bordeaux city.
 
Arrival at Maison Ginestet in Carignan-de-Bordeaux. Tour of the warehouse, and lecture. vertical tasting of Château Gruaud-Larose, 2ième Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Julien.

This is a fitting introduction to “Bordeaux” and is to make your mouth watering of anticipation what lies ahead of you by looking at all the cases brimming with wines of the many chateaux we are going to visit.

In Bordeaux 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, a prominent wine merchant where millions of 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“. Maison Ginestet belongs to the small circle of ‘great Bordeaux wine houses. They sell and ship 15 million bottles of wine to around 70 countries worldwide. Besides being a “négociant” Maison Ginestet produces every day wine from bought fruit; they also own 350 hectar (825 acres!) in eight appellations around France; and they own three classified Châteaux – among them the second growth Gruaud-Larose – where they produce wines of top quality. 

 
Winery tour and tasting at Château Pape-Clément, Graves, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Cru Classé de Graves.

Planted with vines in the 13th century, the Château Pape-Clement is the oldest continuously operating wine estate in the entire Bordeaux region. Its name is derived from one of the heirs of the winery who later became Pope Clement V. and wrote history by moving the papacy to Avignon. Today Château Pape-Clement belongs to the wine imperium of Bernard Magrez, which now covers about 40 estates in Bordeaux and other parts of France as well as in the rest of the world. Château Pape-Clément is classified for its white and red wine according to the 1953 classification of the Graves. The red usually consists of 55% Cabernet-Sauvignon and 45% Merlot and is a full-bodied, presice wine with an incredible intensity.  Although I am a true German white wine fan I very much enjoy the Pape-Clément white wine. The blend usually is 55 % Sauvignon-Blanc and 45 % Sémillion. This mediun-bodied wine is fresh, clean and minerally. About 20% of the blend is aged in concrete eggs. Winemaker Arnaud Lasisz will give us the tour and will guide us through the tasting.

 

EVENING

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: Wednesday, September 02

 

MORNING

Winery tour and tasting at Château Canon-La-Gaffelière, Appellation Saint-Émilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé B.

Canon-La-Gaffelière belongs to the only 18 Premiers Grands Crus Classés châteaux in Saint-Emilion (4 Premiers Grands Crus Classés A and 14 Premiers Grands Crus Classés B). Château Canon La Gaffelière and La Mondotte –also owned by Count Stephan - were promoted to the extremely competitive circle of Premiers Grands Crus Classés of St. Émilion in the September 6, 2012 blind tasting. 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. In 2011 Stephan von Neipperg switched to ecological viticulture at his Saint-Émilion estates and the mixture of grape varieties cultivated on the Canon-La Gaffelière estate (55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon) is rather untypical in comparison to the rest of the appellation. This identity, strongly influenced by Cabernet, gives the Canon La Gaffelière wines a very complex character.

 

LUNCH

Lunch (beverages on your own) at restaurant La Terrasse Rouge.

This restaurant sits on the roof-top of Château La Dominique, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Grands Crus Classés in Saint-Emilion. This is a fabulous look out point over the sea of vineyards of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol.

 

AFTERNOON

Winery tour and tasting at Château Gazin, Appellation Pomerol.

This is our first visit to the famous Pomerol wine region. 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.
Winemaking on the Château Gazin property dates back to 1772. In 1917 the current owner family, the de Bailliencouts purchased the estate and today it is the 5th generation of the de Bailliencourts, one of the oldest families in France, managing the Château. Château Gazin is quite unique in the Right Bank: the vineyard is a single block of 66 acres – a very large estate for Pomerol standards - on the highest elevation in Pomerol (40.5 meters) which they share with their neighbor Château Petrus. The Gazin vineyards are planted with 90% Merlot, 6% Cabernet-Sauvignon, and 4% Cabernet-Franc. The clay-gravelly subsoil of the Pomerol plateau is the essence of the terroir of Château Gazin.

 
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.

 

EVENING

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.

The rest of the late afternoon and the early evening is free for you to take a first look at this beautiful, medieval village of Saint-Émilion. Dinner is on you own.

 

DAY 3: Thursday, September 03

 

MORNING

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 (see picture at left), who studied enology at Bordeaux and was the director at neighboring Chateau Petit-Village before joining the team at La Conseillante. I personally love the La Conseillante wines; they are elegant, sensuous and harmonious.

 
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.

 

LUNCH

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.

 

AFTERNOON

Winery tour and tasting at Château Troplong-Mondot, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé B.

Château Troplong-Mondot is one of the most beautiful properties of the appellation. The handsome castle was built in 1745 and it was once part of a sizeable estate that included
what today are the Château Pavie vineyards. Since the late 1920s Château Troplong-Mondot was in the hands of the Valette family. In the 1980s it was Christine Valette who managed the estate and brought the quality up to the Premier-Grand-Cru Classé level. Christine Valette passed away in 2014 and in 2017 the property was sold to the French Insurance Company SOCR. They hired Aymeric de Gironde – then managing director at Cos d’Estournet – to become managing director and started a complete change in the vineyards, in harvesting ideology, and in vinification techniques. The château with 92 acres under vine is one of the largest estates in the Saint-Émilion appellation and sits on the highest point -300 feet- of the plateau east of the village of Saint-Émilion. The soil consists of a deep limestone deposit under layers of thick clay soil.

 

EARLY EVENING

Back at hotel.

The rest of the afternoon and the early evening 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.

 

EVENING

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.

 

DAY 4: Friday, September 04

 

MORNING

We will drive through the rolling hills of the “Entre deux Mer” wine region to the Sauternes region.
 
Winery tour and tasting at Château de Fargues, Appellation Sauternes.

The story of Château de Fargues began in 1306 when a nephew of Pope Clement V, Cardinal Raymond Guilheim de Fargues bought the property and built a fortress with solid walls and rough stones not at all resembling what we imagine of a “Château”.    For more than 500 years, the estate is in the same hands since it had been acquired through marriage by the Lur-Saluces family, a powerful aristocratic family of Southern France, who also owned Château  Coutet and Château d’Yquem, among others, until the end of the 20th century. Château de Fargues is a very large estate of mixed farming with 425 acres of land: 250 acres of woods, a system of artificial ponds, a breeding area, cattle pastures, about 65 acres of arable crops and 62 acres under vine.  However, producing a “Sauternes” only started in the late thirties of the 20th century when the father of the current owner Marquis Bertrand de Lur-Saluces converted 25 acres of vineyards from red varieties to Semillion and Sauvignon-Blanc. Alexandre de Lur- Saluces continued the work of his father and today 42 acres are planted with white varieties. The vineyards are farmed with respect to the soil; there is no use of herbicides, as fertilizer the cow manure is used instead. Our host will be Prince Eudes d’Orléans, 3rd in line of the throne, should a monarchy be reinstituted in France, who is the Managing Director at Château de Fargues.

 
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.

 

LUNCH

Wine pairing lunch at Château Climens.

We will learn that an ultra sweet Sauternes wine can be wonderful with a meal. Bérénice will teach us to match Sauternes with the an exquisite multi course meal prepared by the fabulous resident chef.

 

AFTERNOON

Winery tour and tasting at Château Bouscaut, Appellation Pessac-Léognan, Cru Classé de Graves.

Château Bouscaut belongs to the 16 estates classified in the 1953 classification of Graves. As with Château Pape-Clément, Bouscaut is classified for its red and white wine. The history of Château Bouscaut goes back to the 16th century. Today it has 135 acres of vineyards in the commune of Cadaujac which makes it the largest estate in the commune. This big vineyard is essentially one large parcel with an average age of 40 years for the vines. 117.5 acres are planted with red grapes : Cabernet-Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (42%), Malbec (7%), and Petit Verdot (1%). 17.5 acres are designated for the whites : 55% Sauvignon-Blanc and 45% Sémillion. In 1979 Lucien Lurton bought Château Bouscaut and today it is his daughter Sophie -Bérénice’ older sister- who is managing the estate.

 

EVENING

Check in at Grand Hôtel Français in Bordeaux.

This charming hotel is located right in the city center. Everything is easily accessible by walking.

 
Evening on your own.

The evening is free for you to discover the vibrant city of Bordeaux. It is fascinating to wander through the narrow streets lined with restaurants and wine bars always full to the brim with hungry and thirsty folks.

 

DAY 5: Saturday, September 05

MORNING

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.

 

LUNCH

Winepairing lunch at Château Beauséjour.

Following the winery tour we will enjoy a wine pairing lunch at the château.
We will have a wonderful 3 course luncheon matched with the wines of Château Beauséjour. We will experience true French hospitality when sharing our meal with the owner and winemaker. Coffee will be served at the medieval fairy tale Château Langlais - just across the street - where Claire and Gérard live.

 

 

AFTERNOON

Winery visit and tasting at Château Bel-Air-La-Royère, Appellation Blaye-Côtes de Bordeaux.

Château Bel Air La Royère is a brilliant small producer belonging to the so called “petits-châteaux” in the Bordelais. The wines are different in style, character and identity from most other Bordeaux wines. This stems from old Malbec vines of that old high quality low yield clone. In 2003 Xavier and Corinne Loriaud bought the small, rundown Château on the Right Bank of the Gironde estuary in the back yard of Blaye just opposite Pauillac. The château came with a vineyard of 70 year old Malbec vines. The Loriauds did not rip out the vines like so many others, instead they focused on this traditional old Bordeaux grape varietal. With Argentina's great Malbec qualities, and in times of a drastic climate change the grape variety has been attracting renewed attention. Corinne Chevrier-Loriaud, a winemaker in her own rights surrounded herself with women following the departure of her husband in 2009, who went into politics to become a deputy in the Department of the Gironde. To build up and secure her new existence she boldly reduced the vineyard size from 50 to 30 acres and ambitiously continued her work since 2009. Today she belongs to the original and distinctive Bordeaux of a new generation, which has been receiving a tremendous response in the French press.  

 
Drive back to Bordeaux city.

We take a boat ride across the Gironde. We catch the ferry in the historic quaint little town of Blaye to go from the right bank to the left bank. It is impressive to actually see and feel the Gironde, this huge body of water so important for the micro-climate of the famous Médoc wine area.

 

EVENING

Back in the city of Bordeaux.

The rest of the day is free to enjoy the city of Bordeaux on your own. Dinner is on your own. I will check the cultural event schedule closer to the date to give you some recommendations should someone be interested in visiting a concert, opera, etc.

 

DAY 6: Sunday, September 06

 

MORNING

Drive to the western shore 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.

 
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.

 

LUNCH

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.

 

AFTERNOON

Winery visit and blending workshop at Château La Tour de Bessan, Appellation Margaux, Cru Bourgeois.

Here we will taste and evaluate the main red grape varieties of Bordeaux and learn how to blend the wines to make the perfect cuvée for which the Bordeaux wines are famous.

The origins of this property can be found in a 13th century tower situated in Soussans. Today there are only ruins left of this old fortified site. Wine was made at this site for centuries and the vineyards changed hands many times. In 1972 Lucien Lurton bought the tower and vineyards. He invested heavily into vineyards and cellars and brought the Château back on track. Lucien Lorton has since handed over the 11 estates he gradually acquired to his 10 children, including Château La Tour de Bessan to his daughter Marie-Laure in 1992. Marie-Laure Lurton has a winemaking degree and further developed the estate and focused on making top quality wines. She converted to eco friendly vineyard practices and was certified “Terra Vitis” in 2003. In 1999 she renovated an old building dating back to 1934 and constructed a beautiful contemporary building which displays the Château’s dynamic spirit.

 

EARLY EVENING

Arrival and check-in at Hôtel Le Vignobles France et Angleterre in Pauillac.

This hotel is right in the center of the famous Left Bank wine region of Médoc and sits on the banks of the Gironde estuary.

 

DAY 7: Monday, September 07

 

MORNING

Winery tour and tasting at Château Desmirail, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé.

This is another Château owned by a member of the Lurton family (the fourth on this tour). Lucien Lurton acquired this property in 1980 and passed it on to his son Denis –a lawyer by profession- in 1992. Before that the château changed hands several times: the château belonged to the Desmirail family until just before the 1855 classification, when it was purchased by Monsieur Sipière, the estate manager at Château Margaux. It was under his ownership that Desmirail was classified as a Troisième Grand Cru Classé. In the early 20s century the property was owned by Robert de Mendelssohn, the nephew of the famous German composer. Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War it came into the ownership of Château Palmer until 1980. Château Desmirail today belongs to one of the „under the radar“ châteaux. I like to show you excellent Bordeaux wines that do not break your wallet like some which are hyped in the international media. Unique to Château Desmirail, they have three vat rooms especially designed to recall various time periods in the history of Desmirail, making the visit even more interesting. 

 
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.

 

LUNCH

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.

 
Winery tour and tasting at Château Lafite-Rothchild, Appellation Pauillac, 1ière Grand Cru Classé.

The Lafite estate is one of the oldest in the Médoc, its first reference as a place comes from the Abbey at Vertheuil (where we pass by tomorrow morning) which was founded during the 11th century. There was a succession of multiple owners, the most important one was Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur (we will hear the name „Ségur“ quite often in the Médoc, it was a very powerful family and during their tenure the reputation and prices of Médoc wines rocketed). In 1855 Napoleon III ordered the classification of the Left Bank and Château Lafite topped the merchant's listing. There were several categories and the estates were ranked in each category. Lafite came out as first growth and among them as number one. In 1866 Baron James Mayer de Rothschild purchased the estate. Some consider this purchase a rivalry with his cousins, who had already purchased Château Brane-Mouton, later to be named Château Mouton-Rothschild. Lafite eventually became Château Lafite-Rothschild. Difficult years followed: Phyloxera, two world wars, recessions, etc. In 1945 it was Baron Élie Robert de Rothschild who was instrumental in putting Lafite-Rothschild back on track. Next generation Eric de Rothschild and Baroness Philippine of Mouton-Rothschild put aside the rivalry between the two estates and Eric focused instead on modernization, renovation, and vineyard management. Eric appointed Charles Chevallier (with whom we enjoyed a fantastic tasting of older Lafite vintages in Germany) as technical director and estate manager. Charles is due much of the credit for Lafite's renaissance in the 1980s, the estate having endured a string of difficult vintages in the 1960s and 1970s before his arrival. With the changes he made the stage was set for the production of a number of excellent wines through the 1990s and the opening years of the 21st century. In November 2015 Charles decided to step down from his position and to give the baton to Eric Kohler. Château Lafite-Rothschild is a very large estate with 280 acres under vine. These are planted with 70% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet-Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The vineyards lie on both sides of the D2, the main artery through the Médoc. The vineyards to the north of Château Lafite-Rothschild run right up to the drainage channel carved out by Dutch engineers a few centuries ago, which ist he border between the Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe appellation. There even is a parcel on the „wrong“ side of the appellation just next tot he vineyards of Lafon-Rochet, which we will visit later today. I quote the „winedoctor“ Chris Kissack: „The grand vin is Château Lafite-Rothschild, which is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (the blend varies considerably, from 57% up to a figure close to 90%, with one or two vintages over 90%, but 81-90% covers most recent vintages), the remainder usually (but not always) comprised of the other three main grapes. The total production of the estate is close to 540,000 bottles per annum, depending on the vintage of course, and with the strict selection typical of modern Bordeaux the grand vin might account for only 40% of this output. The second wine is Carruades de Lafite, which has up to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, and a greater proportion of Merlot, and this accounts for much of the remaining production. In order to combat fraud in the wine marketplace, from the 2009 vintage for the grand vin, and from the 2010 vintage for the second wine, Château Lafite-Rothschild has introduced Prooftag’s ‘Bubble Seal’ tag to the bottle and capsule.“ Since 2018 manager is Saskia de Rothschild, the 6th generation of Rothschild’s at this property.

 

EVENING

Back at hotel in Pauillac. Evening on your own.

 

DAY 8: Tuesday, September 08

 

MORNING

Drive to the village of Vertheuil.

Along the route we will again pass the famous Châteaux Lafite Rothschild as well as Cos d’Estournel.

 
Visit of the cooperage Berger & Fils.

We will witness the fascinating art of making a barrique. We will see every step in making a barrel. Someone of the staff will have the staves ready and will show us the entire process, from forming the barrel, to the toasting, to labeling of the lid of the finished barrel. 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.

 
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).

 

LUNCH

Lunch menu and wine 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.

 

AFTERNOON

Winery tour and tasting at Château Le Crock, Appellation Saint-Estèphe, Cru Bourgeois

Château Le Crock has 80 acres of vineyards on an exceptional terroir composed of gravel, surface sand, and clay in the subsoil. The benefits of these typicalities are the ability to keep heat, drain soils and provide a natural reserve of water. The proximity of the Gironde acts as a thermal regulator, thus avoiding excess temperature. The vineyards are planted with the traditional varieties of the Médoc: Cabernet-sauvignon (53%), Merlot (33%), Cabernet-franc (9%), and Petit-Verdot (5%), which express at best the originality of the Saint-Estèphe terroir. Owner is the Cuvelier family. The Cuveliers were a prominent wine merchant family in Lille, in northern France when they settled in the Bordelais by acquiring Château Le Crock in 1903. Some years later they also purchased Château Léoville-Poyferré, a second growth in Saint-Julien which we will visit on our last day of the tour.

 
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.

 

EVENING

Following the tour we will enjoy supper with the Paeffgen family of charcuterie, cheese, baguette, wine.

Hopefully the weather will allow us to sit outside in the romantic garden.

 

DAY 9: Wednesday, September 09

 

MORNING

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

Château Léoville Poyferré has a long history going back to 1638. It was part of the large Léoville estate that was with 500 acres the largest wine estate in Bordeaux at the time oft he French Revolution. In 1840 as result of family politics the estate was divided into three smaller entities and hence Château Léoville Poyferré
exists as its own domain since 1840. The current owner, the Cuvelier family bought Château Léoville Poyferré in 1920. At that time the Cuvelier family was already established in the Bordelais as owners of Château Le Crock in Saint-Estèphe. Starting in 1979 Didier Cuvelier 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. In fact Léoville Poyferré has been one of the most consistent producers of high quality wines since 2000. The gravelly sandy soil provides ideal conditions for the vines, resulting in elegant, finesse and fruit-intensive wines. Didier retired last year and his cousin Sara took over. The equipe and overall ideology stayed the same.

 
Winery tour and tasting at Château Kirwan, Appellation Margaux, 3ième Grand Cru Classé.

Châteaux 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 Châteaux 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, and brought Châteaux Kirwan back to its former glory. Today the châteaux is managed by the next generation Yann, Natalie and Sophie Schyler. Just two years they constructed a brand new barrel cellar by building a roof over an inner courtyard that separated two ancient buildings.

 

LUNCH

Picnic style lunch at Château Kirwan.

We will enjoy a light luncheon at the château accompagnied by the Kirwan 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.

 

AFTERNOON

Check in at Hôtel Hilton Garden Inn in Bordeaux city.

Time to relax or do last minute shopping before we head out to our last winery visit and farewell dinner.

 

EVENING

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 effo rts 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.

 
Following the winery tour 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.

 
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.

 

DAY 10: Thursday, September 10

 

Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

This is our last activity together. After breakfast the tour ends.

 

 

 

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BORDEAUX 2020: September 01 – September 17

Wine Tour

Bordeaux 2020


Taste first-class wines, enjoy exquisite wine pairing lunches and dinners at world-famous Châteaux, witness the art of making a barrique, visit an oyster farmer, get the full Bordeaux experience.

10 day immersion: September 01 – 10, 2020

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Burgundy & Champagne 2020


Travel from Lyon to Paris, visit 15+ Wine Domaines, 3 Champagne Houses, discover historical gems such as Fontenay Abbey, Hospice de Beaune, experience French hospitality and genuine Burgundian cuisine.

11 day immersion: October 08 – October 18, 2020

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Follow the Rhône river from Lyon to Avignon visiting famous “GSM” wine estates, delve into medieval history in the former Christian capital Avignon, understand the impressionist painters love of the region, do a sidekick to the Bandol region in Provence.

10 day immersion: June 08 – June 17, 2020

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Germany South & Alsace 2020


Discover Germany's stunning Pinot-Noirs, compare the different wine styles of Germany and Alsace, indulge in beautiful, medieval wine villages, enjoy culinary highlights in both Germany and Alsace.

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