The Great Estates of Bordeaux


New tour dates will be available shortly.  Please contact David@FineVintageLtd.com if you are interested in this destination and future tour dates.

Join us on a spectacular trip visiting some of the greatest wine estates in Bordeaux. Experience private visits with tastings of exceptional wines, dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant and stay at a luxury 5-star hotel set in the historical vineyards of Pessac-Léognan. Your host, James Lawther MW, lives in the region and is an acknowledged authority on Bordeaux.

Each day includes visits and tastings at some of the most famous names in Bordeaux, châteaux that have a long and notable history and whose wines are revered around the world. We will have an insight into each property dealing with viticulture, winemaking and the untranslatable word “terroir.”

Included in the itinerary are:

  • Great Growths of the Médoc with visits to the Super-Second stars Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château Pichon-Baron with a private lunch hosted by Château Léoville-Barton
  • Sweet indulgence in Sauternes at Château Coutet with lunch at Château Guiraud
  • Distinguished estates in Pessac-Léognan with visits to Château Haut-Brion and Château Smith Haut Lafitte
  • Top-rated Right Bank with visits to 1er Grand Cru Classé Château Canon and Château Pavie in St-Emilion and Château La Conseillante in Pomerol
  • First-hand experience of the unique Place de Bordeaux and en Primeur system at the major negociant, Millésima

Your Host
James Lawther MW
is an independent wine writer who has been based in Bordeaux for the last 20 years. In the 1980s James retailed wine at Steven Spurrier’s famous Caves de la Madeleine wine shop in Paris and lectured at the Académie du Vin. Having passed the Master of Wine exam and with vintage experience in Australia, Burgundy and Bordeaux he then continued as a wine writer and for some years has been a contributing editor to Decanter magazine. On the subject of Bordeaux he is the author of two books: The Heart of Bordeaux and The Finest Wines of Bordeaux.

Why Take a Tour of Bordeaux With Fine Vintage?
We have the experience and knowledge to offer a rich and rewarding insight into the Bordeaux wine region. Our long-established connections to the châteaux open doors that are often closed to visitors enabling visits to iconic châteaux. And we do it in style with luxury accommodation and French cuisine of the highest order.

US $3375 (including tax)

The price includes accommodation at Les Sources de Caudalie, all meals except on Wednesday evening, superb wines at all meals, all châteaux visits and tastings, and local transport. Flights are not included. 

There is a $700 supplement for single travelers for a single occupancy hotel room. 

Deposit at booking: $1,000
120 days from start: $1,000
90 days from start: $1,375

To Join the Tour: Simply click on the Book Now icon at the top-right of this page and you will be prompted to enter your details. Should you have any questions please contact David@finevintageltd.com  

The Itinerary

Monday, September 17th

Our hotel for the entire duration is the luxury Les Sources de Caudalie located about 25 minutes by taxi from the airport or train station. www.sources-caudalie.com

The 5-star Les Sources de Caudalie is a favourite place to stay because of the amenities it provides. Surrounded by vineyards, the hotel also offers three excellent restaurants, swimming pools, fitness center and, of course, its world-class, grape-based, Vinothérapie Spa.

2.00 pm – Meet James Lawther in the Tasting Tower above the lobby at Les Sources de Caudalie for a Champagne reception, a review of the itinerary, and some introductions. James will also give a general overview of Bordeaux, some basic facts, and an idea of what to expect on the tour.

Château Smith Haut Lafitte, AC Pessac-Léognan – Cru Classé de Graves
We then kick off our program of winery visits just 100 metres from the hotel at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, with a tour and tasting.

Smith Haut Lafitte is one of the leading chateaux in Pessac-Léognan. It’s a stunning property run by the Cathiard family who sold a chain of sports goods stores to purchase the estate. Smith is one of my favorite wineries in Bordeaux with an amazing underground cellar and its own cooperage. The white wines rank in The Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of the world and the critics regularly score the reds well into the 90’s.

In the evening we will have a 7.00 pm dinner at the hotel’s La Table du Lavoir bistro. The food is fantastic and accompanied by some great vintages of Smith as well as a Sauternes.

Tuesday, September 18thThe Médoc

8.15 amDepart Hotel
The morning departures get later during the trip, but today we’re raring to get to the Medoc.

Château Rauzan-Ségla, AC Margaux – 2nd Growth (1855)
This leading estate on the edge of the village of Margaux has been turned upside down since it was purchased by the Wertheimer family, owners of Chanel, in 1994. We’ll visit the modern winery and taste the wines which are the purest expression of Margaux, fragrant, supple and balanced. The second label, Ségla, is also a great buy. www.chateaurauzansegla.com

Château Léoville-Barton, AC St.-Julien – 2nd Growth (1855)
Twenty minutes’ drive north of Margaux and you find one of the most sought-after wines in Bordeaux, not only for quality reasons, but out of respect for the owner, Anthony Barton. We have lunch with Anthony’s daughter, Lilian, and other members of the Barton family and hear first-hand about the amazing history of the estate. Yes, the wines have had 100-point scores and yes, the cellars are beautiful but most of all, the atmosphere at this family property and the fantastic hospitality will be a treasured memory. www.leoville-barton.com

Château Pichon-Baron, AC Pauillac - 2nd Growth (1855)
Perhaps the most majestic château, replete with turrets and water features, Pichon-Baron is the epitome of a Médoc estate. The wines at this 2nd Growth Pauillac property are close to the quality level of neighboring 1st Growths Latour, Lafite, and Mouton. We will have privileged access to their cellars followed by a tasting. www.pichon-longueville.com

Tapas Dinner at Les Sources de Caudalie.
After a great day in the Médoc we return to Les Sources de Caudalie for dinner. It’s a laid-back event with a tasting of a range of other Médoc wines with tapas served alongside.

Wednesday, September 19thSauternes & Pessac-Léognan

9:30 am – Depart Hotel
Board our luxury coach for a day visiting the great estates of Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes.

Château Haut-Brion, AC Pessac-Léognan – 1st Growth (1855)
Our first stop is Château Haut-Brion, the only 1st Growth (1855) outside of the Médoc. It is a fascinating property because the city of Bordeaux has now surrounded the vineyards. The château has been closed to visitors for some time but is finally re-opened and we will visit the stunning cellars, including the barrel ageing room. After the visit, you’ll have a tasting of their much-coveted wine. www.haut-brion.com

Château Guiraud, AC Sauternes – 1st Growth (1855)
The most dynamic château in Sauternes, Guiraud is a motivating force in this sweet wine appellation. Organically run and environmentally friendly, there’s a nursery for cultivating vine stock as well as a new restaurant and the wines maintain a special character with a pinch more Sauvignon Blanc in the blend than is usual. Lunch is great fun with a fascinating food and wine pairing and no shortage of fantastic wine. www.chateauguiraud.com

Château Coutet, AC Barsac – 1st Growth (1855)
As wonderful as lunch at Château Guiraud will be make sure you save room for more sweet elixir at Château Coutet. This is one of just two estates in Barsac (across the Ciron stream from Sauternes) to earn the title of 1st Growth in 1855. It is the largest classed growth in Barsac whose style is delicate but still rich in tropical fruit, honey, and spicy oak flavours. We will explore Sauternes as it ages with barrel samples and a taste of older vintages.  www.chateaucoutet.com

Free Evening
We return to Les Sources de Caudalie at around 6.30 pm. For those that wish to spend the evening in Bordeaux, the bus will take you there and depart the city centre at 10.00 pm. You are also welcome to spend the evening relaxing at Les Sources de Caudalie with a dinner at one of the three restaurants. 

Thursday, September 20th - St-Émilion & Pomerol

10.00 am – Depart Hotel
Depart for the chateaux of the Right Bank.

Château La Conseillante, AC Pomerol
Pomerol is the smallest of the Right Bank appellations and produces Bordeaux’s most expensive wines, Petrus and Le Pin. Up there in the top rank is the family owned (since 1871) Chateau La Conseillante. Like all Pomerol estates it’s a tiny property but the winemaker will be there to guide us around the new winery and give us her inside knowledge at the tasting. www.la-conseillante.com

Château Pavie, AC St-Émilion Grand Cru - 1er Grand Cru Classé (A)
I admire the work of owner Gérard Perse who has shaken up the sleepyhead traditionalists in the region. He has certainly put Pavie on the map, up-grading it to 1er Grand Cru Classé (A) and has just spent a fortune building a new winery. After the tour we have a luxurious lunch in the sumptuous dining room complete with a tasting of Pavie and sister estate Monbousquet. www.vignoblesperse.com/en/chateau-pavie/home

Château Canon, AC St-Émilion Grand Cru - 1er Grand Cru Classé (B)
Next up is a visit and tasting at another 1er Grand Cru Classé, Chateau Canon. This is classic Merlot-based St-Emilion from the limestone plateau near the edge of the town. We explore the excavated underground cellars and visit the renovated winery before tasting. The Wertheimer family, owners of Chanel, have invested heavily in the property since 1996 and it’s paying dividends. The 2015 and 2016 are amongst the greatest vintages here. http://www.chateaucanon.com/  

Visit to St-Émilion
We’ll then head into the historic town of St-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site and perhaps the most beautiful wine village in the world.  Steep cobblestone streets wind their way through the medieval center. This is a great spot to buy wine as most châteaux do not sell when you visit.  

Dinner at Hostellerie de Plaisance
Refreshed from our town visit, at 7.00 pm we regroup for a Champagne reception followed by our final dinner in St.-Émilion at the 2-star Michelin restaurant – La Table de Plaisance. This beautiful hotel is also owned by Gérard Perse and we will celebrate our last evening together with a 3-course menu paired with a stunning flight of wines. The outdoor terrace will capture your heart and the impeccable service and exquisite food are second to none. www.hostelleriedeplaisance.com

Friday, September 21st - The Négociants of Bordeaux
You can either check out of the hotel or arrange to stay additional day(s).

10.00 am – Château Smith Haut Lafitte
After a slow start and a delicious breakfast there’s a voluntary return to Smith Haut Lafitte to meet the winemaker and see the cooper in action - it’s fascinating to watch the barrels being made. Or you can sleep in, have a swim, and catch us after the visit.  

11.30 am – Depart for Millésima
If you are checking out we’ll put your bags on the bus. To wrap up the tour we visit a leading Bordeaux négociant, Millésima, a top trader of Bordeaux wines. We visit the massive warehouses where thousands of cases are stored and learn about the role of a négociant in Bordeaux. There is also an excellent wine shop for any last-minute purchases. The visit will be followed by a 3-course lunch at a nearby bistro along with a tasting of several excellent wines. www.millesima.com 

The Tour Winds Down
The bus will then go first to the train station arriving at approximately 4.00 pm, then back to the hotel by 4.45 pm, and then on to the airport by 5.30 pm. Leave yourself some extra time for unexpected traffic delays when booking trains and planes.

Price: $3375 US including tax per person based on double occupancy.

There is a $700 per person single supplement.

Space is limited to 20.

It will be a great trip with lots of fine wine, great food, amazing chateaux, a luxury hotel, a nice amount of wine education and many, many laughs.


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