Jane Anson’s guide to Bordeaux châteaux to visit

Bordeaux châteaux to visit
Touring the estate at Château Carbonnieux

Bordeaux remains a favourite destination for wine-touring holidays. But with 6,500 estates here, where do you start? Selecting châteaux that are near to each other but show differing approaches can be a fun and rewarding way to plan your trip, as with every visit you put a new piece of the puzzle into place. Each pair of cha?teaux described here can be visited in one day, allowing for a long, slow lunch in between, or a walk through the nearby countryside.


White vs red

Carbonnieux & Haut-Bailly

Although Bordeaux is 90% red wine, there are many brilliant white wines to discover in the region, and splitting your day between both is a fascinating reminder that for much of the 20th century, Bordeaux made more white than red. You will find examples of white wines all over Bordeaux, and you could easily do this pairing in several appellations (try Château Thieuley/Château de Reignac in Entre-Deux-Mers, or Château Chantegrive/Château de Portets in Graves) – but for Bordeaux’s best-known whites, head to Pessac-Léognan.

Morning

Château Carbonnieux, Pessac-Léognan CCG

Owned by brothers Eric and Philibert Perrin (no relation to the Château de Beaucastel Perrins in the Rhône), this wonderful estate is pretty much split down the middle into the production of red and white wine, with 50ha of red and 42ha of white – more of the latter than any other Pessac-Léognan estate. The resulting white is a brilliant wine full of creamy concentration, made with the two best-known local varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. It’s an excellent estate to visit: the property dates back to the 13th century, and for a long time was owned by Benedictine monks known for their exceptional white wines. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson visited and left his mark by planting an American pecan tree, which still stands today.

There are a range of tours available here, from the ‘Classic’ €10 tour with a tasting of two wines, to the ‘Prestigious’ tour for €20, with a tasting of three wines and a food platter. A food and wine matching workshop is also on offer, pairing five cheeses and three wines for €22. Open Monday to Friday all year, plus Saturdays from May to October.

Afternoon

Château Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan CCG

Only red wine is made at this 30ha American-owned estate, and it is easily some of the best in the whole of Bordeaux. It’s just along the road from Carbonnieux, so making a visit between the two properties is easy and enjoyable on foot or by bike if you are staying in the area. The wine is classically graceful, full of softly curling woodsmoke, tobacco and rich black fruits – the tasting here is a must. The Haut-Bailly estate’s history can be traced back to at least 1461, and the current château is from the 19th century, standing in contrast to the sleek modern cellars. It boasts a well-stocked boutique that sells books, picnic gear and a ton of interesting gifts. For special occasions, you can arrange private dining with the on-site chef. A new winery is currently under construction.

A number of different visits are on offer, ranging from €20 for one hour, to €50 for the 90-minute ‘Collector’s’ session. All include a tour and tasting.


Cutting edge vs low tech

Montrose & Pontet-Canet

These are two of Bordeaux’s most celebrated and iconic names, both producing incredible wines but reaching their goals by entirely different routes. A day spent visiting one and then the other is eye-opening.

Morning

Château Montrose, St Estèphe 2CC

Head up to St-Estèphe, where you’ll find Château Montrose along the banks of the Garonne river, the far end of its vineyards practically grazing the fishermen’s huts along the river. One of the most impressive châteaux to visit in Bordeaux, this 90ha estate is at the cutting edge of vineyard technology with a stunning 10,000m2 cellar and luxurious design touches at every turn. It is also one of the greenest châteaux in…


Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/jane-ansons-guide-bordeaux-chateaux-visit-429396/

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