Bordeaux Wine Tour
VISIT THE GREAT ESTATES OF BORDEAUX
July 7th – July 10th, 2014
Hosted by James Lawther, MW
JUST $1,995 Canadian dollars
Join us on a once in a lifetime trip to visit some of the greatest estates in the world. Experience private visits and tastings at the top chateaux, have long lunches with the owners of Grands Crus, and dinner at one of the best restaurants in all of France.
This is a different price from our usual Bordeaux tour because the accommodation is not included. You are free to choose your own hotel in the city center of Bordeaux, according to your own budget. This allows us to offer an exceptional price to take you inside the very greatest estates, and enjoy 3 excellent dinners and 3 outstanding lunches, one of them at a 2 star Michelin. Given that some of the wines cost several hundred dollars a bottle this is unbeatable value.
James Lawther MW will be your host. He lives in Bordeaux, has published books on the region, and writes for Decanter and a host of other publications. You won’t find a better guide to Bordeaux.
The visits include:
James Lawther gives a pre-tour tasting and seminar on Bordeaux
Negociant Millésima: Enjoy a superb lunch at a leading Bordeaux négociant
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte: Stunning reds and whites at this outstanding property in Pessac Leognan
Dinner at a top restaurant in Bordeaux with a selection of excellent Grands Crus wines
Château Pichon Baron: A gorgeous 2nd Growth in the morning
Château Léoville-Barton: Lunch with Proprietor Anthony Barton at this star property in St-Julien
Château Mouton-Rothschild: An iconic 1st growth for extensive tasting, tour and wine museum visit.
Domaine de Chevalier: The benchmark for white wine in Pessac.
Château Climens: One of the best lunches you’ll ever have at 1st growth Sauternes.
Château d’Yquem: Say no more.
Château Pavie: Tour and tasting at this “A” ranked St.Emilion.
Château Angélus: The other new “A” ranked St.Emilion.
Château Cheval Blanc: Three “A” ranked St. Emilion in one day? Wow!
Visit of the medieval village of St. Emilion
It’s a wine and food lover’s dream for only $1,995 including tax per person. Flights to France and hotel accommodation in Bordeaux is not included. We take 20 people maximum. It’s fun, educational and the food and wine are out of this world.
Your Guide: James Lawther MW
James Lawther has lived in Bordeaux for the last 15 years. In the 1980s James worked at Steven Spurrier’s famous Cave de la Madeleine wine shop in Paris and then went on to work vintages in Burgundy, Australia and Bordeaux. He passed the Master of Wine exam in 1993, and then moved with his family to Bordeaux. He writes for Decanter, has a book published on Bordeaux, and rates the wines for buyers. I can confidently say that James Lawther knows more about Bordeaux than most of the French. He’s also a good guy, who’s always game for a glass of wine and a laugh.
Why Take a Tour of Bordeaux With Fine Vintage?
The chateaux we visit on this tour are not typically open to visitors. We are able to open the doors. We have long-established relationships through our buying and journalism activities, and the owners and winemakers are kind enough to give us a warm welcome, open their best wines, host lunches and dinners, and show our group things that people don’t normally see, taste or hear. As such, we are able to provide unparalleled access to the greatest names in the world of wine, and everything is done for you.
Price: The cost per person is CAD$1,995 including tax.
This price includes all chateaux visits and tastings, all meals except on Tuesday evening, superb wines at all meals, and local transport in the region during the tour. Flights and accommodation are not included.
All visits are confirmed.
Monday July 7th - An Introduction to Bordeaux
Seminar and tasting of Bordeaux, Millesima negociant, Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte, dinner
10:00 am: Meet James Lawther and the group in the lobby of The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux in the heart of the city center. After some brief introductions there will be a 90 minute seminar and tasting of Bordeaux wines. This will give you the background knowledge to help maximize your enjoyment of the week’s visits.
Armed with some knowledge of Bordeaux wines, we go and visit Millésima, a major merchant that trades all of the top wines of Bordeaux. We will visit the massive warehouses where thousands of cases of crus classes are stored, and learn about the role of a négociant in the wine business of Bordeaux, and the primeur system. Millesima is one of the largest players. We will have a fantastic lunch with a variety of wines from Millesima’s cellars. www.millesima.com
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, AC Pessac Leognan
The first chateau we visit on our tour Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte. Run by the Cathiard family, Smith is one of the leading château in Pessac-Léognan. Their wines rank in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of the world and the reds score well into the 90’s by Parker, including a 100-point score for the 2009. They are also one of the few wineries in Bordeaux to make their own barrels on site and we will visit the cooperage. It’s a gorgeous estate that is fast becoming recognized as one of the very top wines of Bordeaux. http://www.smith-haut-lafitte.com/en/
We then return to Bordeaux and have a short visit of the city on our way to dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city, where there’ll be no shortage of bottles of great wine. This is a big difference between our tours and others. We really do go 1st class.
Tuesday July 8th - The Médoc
9:00 a.m. The tour group meets in the lobby of the elegant and centrally located Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux, 2 – 5 Place de la Comédie. Please note that the departure time is 9:15 am sharp, so don’t be late! www.ghbordeaux.com
Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron, AC Paulliac, 2nd growth
We leave Bordeaux city center and drive north, entering the Medoc through the appellation of Margaux. We pass by a host of famous chateaux on the way up to Pauillac where we visit one of the most architecturally stunning properties in the region. The majestic chateau, replete with turrets, flags flying and water features epitomizes the Medoc. The wines at this 2nd growth can be on a par with the 1st growths, with Latour, Lafite and Mouton surrounding the property. We enjoy a tour and tasting. www.pichon-longueville.com
Chateau Leoville-Barton, AC St Julien, 2nd growth
Just a few minutes south of Pichon Baron you find one of the wines most sought-after by true Bordeaux lovers, not only for quality reasons, but out of respect for the owner of the estate, Anthony Barton. We will have lunch with him and hear first-hand about different vintages of his wines. Yes, the wines have had 100 point scores and yes, the cellars are beautiful. But most of all the atmosphere at this family property brings an understanding of the fantastic hospitality that the Proprietors effortlessly offer. www.leoville-barton.com
Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, AC Pauillac, 1st growth
We end our second day with a visit to the First Growth Chateau Mouton-Rothschild. Famous for the artistic labels that change with each vintage, Mouton is the only Médoc chateau to ever see promotion since the Classification of 1855. The Baron’s patronage to the arts carries through the Château itself with a collection of sculptures, portraits, tapestries, and antiques that would rival any world-class museum of art. The beautiful estate yields a background of Zen-like calm as we taste wines from 3 of the Rothschild estates: Château d’Armailhac, Château Clerc-Milon, and of course, a bottle of the Baron’s finest, Mouton. www.bpdr.com
At each visit we look at a different aspect of the vineyard or the winemaking. So without even knowing it, as you sip these fabulous wines, you are developing a serious knowledge about dozens of aspects of wine.
Following our tour of Mouton, we will drive back to Bordeaux and drop you off at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux at around 6:30pm. We’ve had two big days so it’s a free night on your own.
Wednesday, July 9th - Pessac-Léognan & Sauternes
9:30 am: As with the previous day, please meet the group at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux lobby for a 9:45 am departure.
Domaine de Chevalier, AC Pessac Leognan
We start the day with a visit to Domaine de Chevalier in Pessac Leognan. Every time I leave this estate I think that they give the best tour of anywhere I’ve ever visited. The chateau is beautiful, but it’s the explanation and insights that are so fascinating. Domaine de Chevalier white is, to me, the best in the region and is capable of long-term aging. The Cabernet-dominated reds are superb too. www.domainedechevalier.com
Chateau Climens, AC Sauternes, 1st growth
After experiencing some of the finest reds and whites in the region we head to Sauternes to discover the honeyed dessert wines of this classic benchmark region. The unique terroir, the role of botrytis, and the special winemaking techniques create such spectacular wines they are considered by most as the best sweet wines in the world. We visit 2 of the very top Sauternes properties, starting with a tour, tasting and lunch with older vintages of the nectar at Climens in Barsac, a sub-appellation of Sauternes. It’s an experience. www.chateau-climens.com
Chateau Yquem, AC Sauternes, 1st growth
We like to stick with the theme of 1st Growths to finish the day, so we go to what some consider to be the very best winery in the world, Château d’Yquem. Quite simply, Yquem is the gold standard in sweet wines. It’s in another galaxy. In 1855 it was given the very highest ranking of all the wines of the region, including the reds.
They spare no expense in production, sometimes passing through the vineyards 13 times to harvest only the perfect grapes. In some vintages they don’t make any wine at all. What better way than to end a day with a tour and tasting of this outstanding property. www.yquem.fr/
After the Yquem visit we head back to the center of Bordeaux for a little R & R. We meet up at 7:30 pm for casual fun dinner at a Bordeaux Brasserie for another taste of the region.
Thursday, July 10th: St-Émilion
9:00 am: Today is all about the Right Bank, and the appellations of St-Émilion and Pomerol, about 1 hour drive away. Please be sure to be at the Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux for a 9:15 am departure.
Chateau Pavie, AC St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe “A”
We drive to St. Emilion’s Château Pavie, owned by Gerard Perse and run by a friend Henrique daCosta. Pavie had been closed for 2 years while they renovated the cellars. They have recently been re-opened and are stunning, replete with fine art, classical music piped into the barrel room, and gorgeous archways. We have a tasting of Chateau Pavie, and some of the other Perse estates such as Ch Monbousquet, a personal favorite. Pavie is now one of the 4 “A” ranked chateaux on the right bank, along with Angelus and Cheval Blanc which we visit in the afternoon. You’ll have to come back on another tour to do Ausone…;) www.vignoblesperse.com
Lunch at 2 star Michelin: Hostellerie de Plaisance
Just a few minutes away we will have what might be the best lunch of your life at Hostellerie de Plaisance, a 2-star Michelin (and well on its way to a 3-star ranking). Plaisance is a shrine to gastronomy in St Emilion, overlooking the square from up high. We will have a multi-course course tasting menu paired with a stunning flight of wines from around France. www.hostellerie-plaisance.com
Chateau Angelus, St Emilion Grand Cru Classe “A”
After lunch we go a few minutes’ drive to Château Angélus for a tour, and tasting. Angélus was recently promoted with Pavie to Premier Grand Cru Classés A status. That’s to say it is amongst the 4 best wines of St.Emilion. Here we have a tour and tasting. It’s a beautiful estate. www.angelus.com
Chateau Cheval Blanc, AC St Emilion Grand Cru Classe A
We end the day at Chateau Cheval Blanc, an estate that many would put on a par with Petrus and certainly one of the very greatest wineries in the entire world. The price of these wines, which sell in the thousands of dollars, illustrate that wine lovers are prepared to pay a staggering amount to taste these wines. The newly renovated cellars are something to see. We enjoy a final tour and tasting www.chateau-cheval-blanc.com
Visit of the medieval town of St. Emilion
After Cheval Blanc we’ll head into the historic old town of St-Émilion, a world heritage site and the most beautiful wine village in the world. Steep cobblestone streets wind their way through the village. There is time to shop for wine and gifts, and have a farewell glass of Champagne to cap it all off.
We head back to the city of Bordeaux, arriving around 7 pm. The tour officially ends, but my guess is that it will continue on somewhere in Bordeaux…
Price: $1,995 Canadian dollars including tax per person. Space is limited to 20.
It will be a great trip with lots of fine wine, great food, amazing chateaux, a nice amount of wine education and many, many laughs. It’s the perfect length. By Thursday evening, you’re done. And every minute is special.
This tour sells out every year so don’t delay.
Featured wine tasting holiday to Bordeaux, France:
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