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Bordeaux Wine Tour


THE GREAT ESTATES OF BORDEAUX

 
October 24th – 28th, 2016
 

Hosted by James Lawther, MW


$3,995 CAD per person


Join us on a spectacular trip to visit to the greatest wine estates in the world. Dine at two Michelin restaurants, stay at a 5-star Hotel set amongst the vineyards just a stone’s throw from Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, and experience private visits and phenomenal tastings with the owners and winemakers. James Lawther, a Master of Wine who has published books on the region, will be your host.

Included in the itinerary are:
Château Mouton-Rothschild: A 1st Growth with a stunning art museum and legendary wines.
Château Pichon-Baron: Lunch at a super 2nd Growth in Pauillac.
Château Lagrange: Stunning 3rd Growth chateau in St. Julien in the Medoc.

Château Haut Brion: A rare opportunity to visit the only 1st Growth in Pessac-Leognan.
Château Guiraud: Lunch at an icon sweet wine chateau in Sauternes.
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey: Further indulge your sweet tooth at this historic estate.

Château Canon: Explore the ancient cellars below St-Émilion at this property, owned by Chanel.
Château Pavie: Lunch at this trailblazing St-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé A.
Château La Pointe: A rising star in Pomerol.

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte: Regularly rated in the Top 100 wines of the world by Wine Spectator. Parker has given it the magic 100 points. We visit the vineyards, beautiful cellars, and barrel cooperage with the winemaker. Our hotel 5 star hotel Les Sources de Caudalie is 100 meters away.

Millésima:  Lunch at a leading Bordeaux négociant to learn about the Primeur system

Two Michelin restaurants: Decadent dinners at Les Sources de Caudalie and in St-Émilion.
Visit and dinner in Bordeaux city
Visit of St-Émilion – world heritage site

It’s a wine and food lover’s dream for $3,995 CAD per person based on double occupancy.

Your Guide: James Lawther, Master of Wine

James Lawther, Master of Wine, has lived in Bordeaux for the last 20 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. After passing the Master of Wine exam he moved with his family to Bordeaux. He is the major local writer with a book published on the region. He also contributes to Decanter and is one of a handful of people to seriously score the wines. I can confidently say that James Lawther knows more about Bordeaux than anyone I have ever met, including the French.       

The Program

Each day includes visits and tastings at some of the most famous wineries in Bordeaux, whose wines often sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars per bottle in restaurants. We are well received by the chateaux who provide insight into their appellation, viticulture, winemaking, and their own nuances. Lunches are a lingering affair with the châteaux owners, paired with their superb wines.

Dinners are an experience in gastronomic excellence, and include the 2-star Les Sources de Caudalie at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte and another at Hostellerie de Plaisance in St.-Émilion, a 1-star Michelin.

Accommodation is at the 5-star Les Sources de Caudalie set among the vineyards of Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte. It’s the best place to stay in the region.

Why Take a Tour of Bordeaux With Fine Vintage?

Such iconic Bordeaux chateaux are not typically open to visitors. Fortunately we have long-established connections with these châteaux and are thus able to provide unparalleled access to the greatest names in the world of wine. Typically we taste over 75 wines in the 5 days.  

Price: The cost per person is $3,995 CAD.

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

There is a $900 supplement if you are traveling alone. This is to cover the cost of the single occupancy hotel room.

  • Deposit at booking: $500
  • 120 days from start: $2000
  • 90 days from start: $1,495

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 James@finevintageltd.com

The Itinerary

Monday, October 24th

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

The 5-star Les Source de Caudalie is a favourite place to stay because of the amenities it provides. Surrounded by vineyards, the hotel also offers 2 excellent restaurants, a swimming pool and, of course, its world-class spa.  

Officially the check-in is after 3.30 pm. You are welcome to contact the hotel and request your room be ready earlier if that works with your travel plans. There is always the Spa, the hotel pool and the restaurant if you arrive earlier. Book the Spa early. If you arrive a few days earlier to explore the city of Bordeaux you may wish to consider staying at The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux right in the heart of the city. 

2.00 pm – In the Tower above the lobby at Les Source de Caudalie, meet James Lawther and the group for a Champagne reception, introductions, an overview of the program, and a short talk about the region and its wines to give you the lay of the land.

4.00 pm Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte
We kick off our first visit just 100 metres from the hotel at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Léognan 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 sporting goods stores and purchased one of the top chateau in Bordeaux. Smith is one of my favorite wineries in Bordeaux with a gorgeous underground cellar, and they make white wines that rank in Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of the world and the reds score well into the 90’s by Parker. The 2009 scored 100 points. They are also one of the few wineries in Bordeaux to make their own barrels on site.

That evening we will have a 7:00 pm dinner at the 2-star Michelin restaurant where we are staying just 100 meters from the winery. The food is fantastic with 4 courses, and some great vintages of Smith and a Sauternes that will send you off to bed all happy.

Tuesday, October 25thThe Médoc

8:30 am
Depart Hotel
The morning departures get progressively later during the trip, but today we’re raring to get to the Medoc to visit Chateaux Mouton-Rothschild, Pichon-Baron, and Château Lagrange.

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 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

Château Pichon-Baron, AC Pauillac - 2nd Growth
Just a few minutes from Mouton, in the commune of Pauillac, we visit Pichon-Baron, perhaps the most majestic château, replete with turrets, flags flying and water features that are 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 accompanied by the wonderful wines of the estate. www.pichon-longueville.com

Château Lagrange, AC St. Julien - 3rd Growth
This historic château and spectacular gardens have been owned by Suntory since 1983, who completely modernized the cellars and took quality to new heights. There are more than 100 individual parcels. Their second label, Les Fiefs de Lagrange, is also excellent and will often contain a higher percentage of Petit Verdot than the Grand Vin. We will taste each of these labels as well as their unique Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend, Les Arums de Bordeaux. www.chateau-lagrange.com  

Bordeaux City and Brasserie Bordelaise
After a great day in the Médoc we will head back south towards the hotel and stop off in the city centre for a brief visit to the Grand Theatre and then down to the banks of the river where all the merchant houses used to be. From there, we will have dinner at the Brasserie Bordelaise at 7:00 p.m. This is a traditional Brasserie where we have a set 3 course menu including their delicious steak frites. We aim to be home by 10.00 pm. www.brasserie-bordelaise.fr

Wednesday, October 26thSauternes & Pessac-Léognan

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

Château Haut-Brion, AC Pessac-Léognan – 1st Growth
What a way to start the day! Our first stop is Château Haut-Brion in Pessac, the only 1st growth outside of the Médoc. It is a fascinating property because the city of Bordeaux has now surrounded the vineyards. The property 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 wines. At that stage, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. www.haut-brion.com

Château Guiraud, AC Sauternes – 1st Growth in Sauternes
As a 1st Growth in Sauternes Guiraud is one of the top producers of the famed sweet wines of this appellation. Like all these great sweet wines they can age for decades and decades, and we will try some older wines. They also have a nursery where they cultivate their own vine stock. Lunch is great fun here, with a lovely food and wine pairing and no shortage of fantastic wine. www.chateauguiraud.com

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, AC Sauternes – 1st Growth
As decadent as our lunch at Château Guiraud will be make sure to save room for more sweet pleasures at Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. The history of this little estate dates back hundreds of years; the front gates and walls have been in place since the 13th century. Eric Larramona, the Managing Director and trained oenologist, will take us to the enclosed vineyard that was part of the original classification. www.chateau-lafaurie-peyraguey.com

6:00 pm – Free evening
We’ll be back at the hotel by about 6 pm. It’s been a full day so you will be ready for some r & r and a free evening. You can stay and relax at the hotel and enjoy dinner at their casual bistro or tapas bar (or perhaps a repeat of Monday’s Michelin-star dinner is in order). If you wish to return to Bordeaux for dinner the bus will take you to the city centre and return from a set pick up location in the city at 10 pm.

Thursday, October 27th - St-Émilion & Pomerol

10:00 am – Depart Hotel
Depart for the chateaux of the Right Bank.

Château Canon, 1st Growth, AC St-Émilion Grand Cru Classé
We start our morning with a visit and tasting at Château Canon, AC St-Émilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé. This is classic Merlot-based St-Emilion from the limestone plateau near the edge of town. By torchlight, we walk through the excavated underground cellars that were dug in Roman times. The Wertheimer family, who owns the fashion brand Chanel has invested considerably in winery and vineyard improvements since 1996.  And it’s paying dividends: the recent vintages are 1st class. www.chateaucanon.com/

Château Pavie, AC St-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé A
I admire the work of Gerard Perse who shakes up the sleepyhead traditionalists in the region. He spent over $50 million renovating this incredible chateau. After the tour we have a very luxurious lunch in their sumptuous dining room complete with a tasting of different vintages of Pavie and Monbousquet. The property is now ranked as one of the 4 Premier Grand Cru Classés A. Parker loves them and has often given them perfect scores. In my opinion these are absolutely first class wines. Henrique da Costa, the son-in-law of the owner Gerard Perse will welcome us. www.vignoblesperse.com/en/chateau-pavie/home

Château La Pointe, AC Pomerol
This 23 hectare estate is large by Pomerol standards and is unique in that it combines an assortment of clay, gravel, and sandy soils. This gives the winemaking team led by our guide, Eric Monneret, a palate of styles to choose from to create their grand vin. Merlot driven with the support of Cabernet Franc, Château La Pointe is a Sleeping Beauty that has woken to its true potential. www.chateaulapointe.com

Visit of St-Émilion
After these fantastic visits we’ll head into the historic old town of St-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most beautiful wine village in the world.  You will have about one hour free time to wander the steep cobblestone streets that wind their way through the medieval village. This is a great spot to buy wine as most château do not sell when you visit.

Dinner at Hostellerie de Plaisance
Refreshed from our town visit, at 7:30 pm we will have our final dinner in St.-Émilion at a 1 star Michelin restaurant – Le Grand Chef Relais. This beautiful property is owned by Gerard Perse of the famed Château Pavie. We will celebrate our last evening together with a 4-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, October 28th - The Négociants of Bordeaux

You can either check out of the hotel or you can contact them yourself and arrange to stay additional day(s).

10:00 am – Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte
After a slow start and a delicious breakfast a return visit to Smith-Haut-Lafitte will introduce you to the winemaker, and visit the barrel making area. It’s fascinating to watch the barrels being made. Or you can sleep in and catch us at 11:30am.

11:30 am – Depart for Millésima
If you are checking out then we’ll put your bags on the bus. To wrap up the tour we will visit one of the leading Bordeaux négociants, Millésima. This company is one of the top traders of all the great wines in Bordeaux. We will visit the massive warehouses where they store thousands of cases and learn about the role of a négociant in the wine business of Bordeaux. We will have a 3-course menu 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 4:30 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: $3,995 CAD per person, based on double occupancy.

There is a $900 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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