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The Great Estates of Bordeaux

May 20th – 24th, 2019
 

Hosted by James Lawther, MW
 

$3,795 US per person

 

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 famous First Growths of Château Margaux and Château Mouton-Rothschild with a private lunch hosted by super Second Growth Château Pichon-Baron;
  • Sweet indulgence in Sauternes at Château Suduiraut and Château Guiraud, with lunch at Guiraud’s local restaurant, La Chappelle;
  • 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 Classés Château Beau-Séjour Bécot and Château Pavie in St-Émilion, a tasting at Château La Fleur-Pétrus in Pomerol, and a 2-star Michelin dinner at Hostellerie la Plaisance;
  • First-hand experience of the unique Place de Bordeaux and en Primeur system at the major négociant, 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.

Price
US $3,795 (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 US$750 supplement for single travelers for a single occupancy hotel room. 

Deposit at booking: $1,000
120 days from start: $2,000
90 days from start: $795 (plus single supplement if applicable)

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, May 20th


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, May 21st – The Médoc

8.45 am – Depart Hotel
The morning departures get later during the trip, but today we’re raring to get to the Medoc.

Château Margaux, AC Margaux – 1st Growth
One of the finest names in wine, Château Margaux is an elegant and stately property that many visitors flock to see – but few get in. We are privileged to be invited to visit the 250-hectare estate followed by a tasting of among the very best Bordeaux has to offer. You can finally check “Taste Wine at Margaux” off your bucket list after this visit. www.chateau-margaux.com/en/

Château Pichon-Baron, AC Pauillac - 2nd Growth
Perhaps the most majestic château, replete with turrets, flags flying and water features, Pichon-Baron is the epitome of a Médoc estate. The wines at this 2nd Growth can be on a par with the 1st Growths, with Latour, Lafite, and Mouton surrounding the property. We will have privileged access to their dining room for a long, lingering, and decadent Bordelais lunch. www.pichon-longueville.com

Château Mouton-Rothschild, AC Pauillac - 1st Growth
Mouton-Rothschild, famous for the artistic labels that change with each vintage, is the only Medoc chateau to ever see promotion since the Classification of 1855. The Baron’s also created a stunning wine museum with a collection of sculptures, portraits, tapestries, and antiques. 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. www.chateau-mouton-rothschild.com

Tapas Dinner at Les Sources de Caudalie.
After a great day in the Médoc we will return to Les Sources de Caudalie. In the tower tonight there is a tasting of a range of other Medoc wines, both big names and smaller lesser known chateaux. Casual tapas are served with the wines. After a big day filled with great wines and food in the Médoc, tonight is a laid-back evening at Les Sources de Caudalie.

Wednesday, May 22nd – Sauternes & Pessac-Léognan

9:45 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
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
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 at their recently opened La Chappelle restaurant is great fun with a fascinating food and wine pairing and no shortage of fantastic wine. www.chateauguiraud.com

Château Suduiraut, AC Sauternes – 1st Growth
With a history as rich as their wines, a visit to Château Suduiraut is a great way to end the day. The chateau dates back to the 16th century. In 1855 Suduiraut’s wines were classified as a Sauternes Premier Grand Cru Classe. Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc create wine that can live for decades. It’s an experience to see how they make this stunning wine and then taste it. www.suduiraut.com/en/

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, May 23rd - St-Émilion & Pomerol

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

Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, AC St-Émilion Grand Cru – 1er Grand Cru Classé (B)
We start the day at Château Beau-Séjour Bécot, a highly-respected family-run (Bécot family) First Growth in St-Émilion. The 54-acre property has a viticultural history that dates back to Gallo-Roman times and is located on St.-Émilion’s famed limestone plateau.  The wines are rich and powerful but balanced and are capable of aging for 15 years or more. www.beausejour-becot.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 La Fleur-Pétrus, AC Pomerol
Our day of visits on the Right Bank finishes with a visit to Pomerol, an appellation where Merlot dominates and prices are stratospheric. Château La Fleur-Pétrus is one of the finest properties, owned by the Moueix family since 1953. It is just a stone’s throw from their other Pomerol estate, Pétrus. The wines are classically Merlot-driven and balanced out by Cabernet Franc. With production of just 3,700 cases the wines are hard to find from this boutique-style property. La Fleur-Pétrus is not open to the public so you will be among the few who have the opportunity to taste these beautiful wines first-hand. www.moueix.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, May 24th - 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.  

11.00 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: $3,795 US including tax per person based on double occupancy.

There is a $750 US 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.

www.finevintageltd.com

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