We couldn’t leave Bordeaux without a true tour of the Châteaus!
Our hotel organized the whole thing – got a driver, planned the itinerary; all we had to do was show up.
Our driver (Roman? Roni? Man, I suck at names) picked us up in the lobby at 10am sharp. Then we were whisked off, out of the city and into the Médoc, the wine-growing region just north of Bordeaux that specializes in reds. Be still my heart.
First stop: Chateau La Tour Carnet
Once we got there, Roman escorted us inside to our wine host. Naturally I can’t remember her name either.
She took us on a nice tour of the grounds: in and around the castle, the wine cellar and winemaking area, and then back to the main house for a tasting.
The castle had a moat! Complete with swans and all.
HOW IS THIS PLACE EVEN REAL?
Our wine host gave us a bit of history about the castle while we walked the perimeter, but of course I can’t remember it now. It used to be much bigger, bla bla, French Revolution, revolt, peasants destroyed all the symbols of aristocracy, bla bla.
Mostly what I remember is the reflection of the sun off all the white stone BURNING my eyeballs. Cause I’m the idiot that doesn’t bring sunglasses.
But soon enough we were inside.
And old. But in a fake sense. Everything was a replica, recently renovated.
There are two bedrooms that you can actually rent out. So, if you ever wondered what it was like to stay in a French chateau, give this place a call and try it out.
So many Game of Thrones feels.
Back on the first floor, and off to the side of the castle’s main entrance, was the cellar. They had wine from every vintage, going back to the early 19th century. Of course I went straight for my birth year.
And a random garage filled with vintage cars, cause apparently the owner of the estate is a walking cliche.
I don’t have any pictures of the tasting, but you aren’t missing much. Maybe it’s cause we’ve been spoiled with so many spectacular tasting experiences in Napa, but this one was really underwhelming. Sure, the tour of the castle was distinctive. The grounds were gorgeous. But the wine itself… meh. We got two teensy pours – one red, one white. Neither very drinkable. Oh well.
It was time for a quick lunch intermission. Yay, food!
Roman drove us to this adorable place called Le Bon Temps, in one of the tiny neighboring villages in the Médoc.
Our waiter didn’t speak a lick of English, so we did a lot of pointing and smiling.
Worked well enough, and I got away with a delicious plate of lamb.
After lunch, Roman took us on a mini tour of Chateau Margaux.
This is apparently the “Cream of the Crop,” one of the most renowned wine estates in France. It wasn’t open, but we still got to take a little peak of the property.
People were free to walk around the perimeter, but there were actually armed guards standing watch over the grapevines. That’s how valuable this wine is. Cuh-razyyyy. $$$
Our next appointment was right across the way: Chateau Palmer.
Our sommelier at Eleven Madison Park had recommended this place to us when we’d eaten there in May.
Glad we took him up on the rec, cause it was lovely.
Unlike the first chateau, this appointment was a group venture. I think there were maybe 10 of us total? I liked that a lot better, cause it didn’t feel like we were under a wine host’s microscope the whole time.
Have you ever seen someone with such grace!? Hah.
All the grapes are picked by hand, sorted by hand, and then put in either stainless steel (like these) or in oak to ferment. Oh, and the vines are all certified organic. No pesticides here!
These cellars always smell so good. I don’t know how to describe it… oak barrel-y?
That little plot of plants is the estate garden. Full of ripe tomatoes and greens.
Jumping doggy shrubs!
We weren’t allowed inside the chateau, but were instead taken to a side room with an entirely different aesthetic. Clean lines, modern; a complete departure from the antiquity of the chateau.
That’s where they had the tasting.
Wine, wine, whiney whine wine.
They were pretty good, but both tasted very young. Bitter, harsh, and full of tannins. (Look at me pretending I know wine terminology.) We only had one more chateau to go after this one. I think we had both reached our wall at this point. Wine is totally awesome, but running around from one chateau to the other to the other all day was exhausting.
I’m exhausted just writing about it.