Recommendations: Bordeaux's Wine Country
There are over 8,000 chateaus in Bordeaux, each producing there own wine, so it can be a bit intimidating to figure out where to stay and what do. With that said, it might be worth doing a little research before hand if you are only a white wine drinker as much of certain regions mostly produce red.
|The wine country of Bordeaux|
- Lay of the Land: The first thing to understand are the different areas within Bordeaux, and there are a lot. My recommendation would be to spend about 2 - 4 days in the wine country exploring different regions each day. The one's we visited were Medoc, Fronsac and Saint Emilion and I would recommend them all.
|The small village of Fronsac|
Where to Stay: I would stay in two different locations while country side so you can experience different regions and locations. For instance, Medoc is more in the north so it might be worth finding a chateaux up there for two nights and then staying for two in Saint Emilion for two as well. That said, we stayed just north of Fronsac for three and one night in Saint Emilion which was also perfect so there is a lot of optionality. Below are a few recommendations:
|The vineyards at Chateau de la Dauphine|
- Manior D' Astree: This quaint B&B in the middle of the country side, was our home for three of the nights. It was a perfect location not only because you were amongst the vines but it also allowed for easy access to the north and south regions. Our French host had fresh croissants every morning and there is a beautiful pool to relax by with the host's dogs after a day of wine tasting. It was a great value for the price we paid.
|The Manior D' Astree|
|Our host's two dogs|
|Breakfast at the B&B|
- Chateau de la Riviere: We didn't stay here but it was one of our favorite chateau's we visited and it also happened to be a B&B. What looked like cinderella's castle, this medieval chateau was set atop a hillside with beautiful views, a pool, and red, white and rose wine.
|In front of the Chateau de la Riviere|
- Chateau Lynch Bages: In the north part of Medoc, Chateau Lynch Bages is one of the nicer chateaus that also is home to a B&B, a phenomenal restaurant (so I have been told) and a little town square with a cafe and boulangerie. We didn't stay in the region but this place would be worth looking into if you wanted to.
|Wine tasting at Chateau Lynch Bages|
- Hostellerie de Plaisance: Staying in or near Saint Emilion is a must and nothing seemed to be better than this five star hotel. Set atop the medieval village, it provided perfect views of the of the town below and vineyards afar. And don't forget about the Michelin star restaurant.
|The view from the hotel's terrace|
|Grand Barrail - where we stayed close to Saint Emilion|
What to Do:
- Bordovino Tours: When you are still getting the lay of the land, using Bordovino is not a bad route to go to explore some of the region. We did a private full day tour to Medoc on our first day. Not only did we visit chateau's in the area, but we also learned a lot about the history of the Bordeaux wine region. Our energetic guides pointed out famous chateaus we would have missed and also did a wine blending class amongst the vineyards. They have a number of tours to choose from so feel free to go wild.
|Wine blending in the vineyards|
- Set Up Appointments at Chateaus: Half the fun is driving across the beautiful landscape and stumbling across little villages and magnificent chateaus yourself. Along the way, be sure to set up appts with more well known chateaus to do a private tours and tastings. It's easiest to just have wherever you are staying book appointments at the best chateaus closest to you.
|One of the random chateaus we stopped by|
- Exploring Saint Emilion: Whether you stay in this area or not, a stop at this Unesco World Heritage Site is very much worth your time. The village is perfectly intact and is surrounded by some of the most famous vines in the world. It is a rather small village so it's easy to meander around and is known for it's gastronomic restaurants.
|Overlooking Saint Emilion|
- Bordeaux: We spent a few hours here on our last morning - it's beautiful and probably deserves at least a whole day in itself.
|Samantha in Bordeaux|
|Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux|
Where to Eat:
- Chateau de la Dauphine: Located in Fronsac, this 300 year old chateau is located in a tiny village with beautiful grounds. They set up a lovely lunch for us next to the chateau after our private tour.
|The spread at the Chateau de la Dauphine|
- Logis De Cadene: As I mentioned, Saint Emilion is known for it's gastronomic restaurants. The first night, we ate at this family owned restaurant and did the tasting menu.. Keep an eye out for the truffle risotto.
|One of many courses|
|The signature truffle risotto|
- Hostellerie de Plaisance: Yes, the five star hotel also boasts a Michelin star restaurant. Get ready to get your fancy on along with your appetite. You also may need to be a little adventurous at this one as the chef's menu contained escarole and veal sweet bread. Oh and be sure to have a drink on the patio before dinner as it offers the best view of Saint Emilion.
|Our first course here|
|One of the seafood dishes|
|One of the desserts|
- The Intermarche: If you look this up you will see many of them and that's because it's the super market. Depending on where you stay, there is a good chance there will be no where near by to eat dinner and after a full day of wine tasting, you may not want to drive. Sure you can drop some money on a cab but sometimes preparing your own dinner can be just as a good or better.
|The meal we made the first night|
|Not complete without some wine and cheese|
- Rent A Car: If you are going to be chateau hopping or staying in different locations, renting a car is almost a necessity. Sure you are doing wine tastings but doing 2 - 3 tastings over the course of 3 - 4 hours will not have you in the same condition as your average college party.
- Getting a cab: There will be some nights where you will want to go out after drinking a few glasses of wine. Getting a cab is possible if you book it in advance (depending on where you are staying) or having your hotel call one. They are a bit pricey though.
|One of the barrel rroms at at Chateau|