Chateaux open on Sundays
It can still be frustratingly difficult to know which properties are open on a Sunday, particularly during the winter. I will list here the ones I know about, and would be very happy to hear about any others.
Chateau Bellevue Gazin, Cotes de Bordeaux Blaye
This Cotes de Bordeaux property, in the village of Plessac near Blaye, is owned by Parisians Anne-Sophie and Alain Lancereau. Alain was formerly a management consultant while Anne Sophie was a sculptor and has worked in art galleries in Paris, London and Vancouver. They bought the property in 2003 and have completely renovated it, organising wine tastings combined with visits to the local Roman romains, and offering five rooms as a chambre d'hotes (a tip by the way - chateaux with bed and breakfast are the most likely to be open on Sundays). Excellent wine also, rightly praised by Stephen Brook in his latest Bordeaux book. Open year round seven days a week, appointments at weekends over winter.
+33 (0)5 57 42 02 00
Chateau Carbonneau, St Foy Bordeaux
Recently awarded International Best of Wine Tourism prize, this is a corner of New Zealand in the Saint Foy appellation, which is between Castillon and Bergerac. Now on the third generation of New Zealand owners (with a French husband however), and a New Zealand winemaker, they also make a 100% sauvignon blanc. Again, there are five very charming rooms to rent as chambre d'hotes, and the 100-hectare plus estate is also a working farm, with cattle, forest and some beautiful Bernese mountain dogs. Open year round seven days a week (chambre d'hote closed over November to February, however, so call ahead for wine tasting over these months).
Wilfred and Jacqui Franc de Ferriere
33890 Pessac-sur -Dordogne
+33 (0)5 57 47 46
Chateau Pape Clement, Pessac Leognan
Wine tourism is Bernard Magrez's latest interest, and as with everything else he does, it has to be 100%. This means one of the very few prestigious Bordeaux properties that is open seven days a week, with a very chic wine shop and tours around the property, which dates back to the 13th century and takes its name from Pope Clément V. In honour of this, there is a recreated ‘chapel’ below the château, complete with crypt, marble sarcophagus and piped organ music. Pape Clement has won Best of Wine Tourism awards for its parks and gardens, and in summer these are excellent to walk around. €9 for ‘connoisseur visit’ lasting 1.5 hours, including tasting (currently 2004 or similar). Seven days a week year round, by appointment. Groups up to 25. Guided tours at 10.30, 11.30, 14.30, 16.30. Sunday at 10.30.
216 Avenue de Dr Nancel Pénard, 33600 Pessac
Tel: 05 57 26 38 38
La Winery, Margaux
Not a chateau, but a 'wine experience centre' owned by Philippe Raoux of Chateau d'Arsac. There’s a 1,000m2 boutique selling wines from around the world, which offers some drop-in tastings, others to be booked in advance, and payable. One of the highlights of the visit is the chance to discover your Wine Sign – an astrological reading that tells you what type of wine you prefer (€16 for basic reading, €29 for the Grand Crus version). There is also a gourmet restaurant, a wine bar, picnic tables outside, and a number of events ranging from music concerts to farmers markets. Open Tues-Sun 11.00-19.00, July and August 11.00-20.00.
Route Verdon, Rond Point des Vendangeurs, D1, 33460 Arsac
Tel: 05 56 39 04 90
Château Fonplegade, Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé
This is one of the most expensive chateaux visits in Bordeaux, but they do put on a good welcome for the money. There are botanical gardens in the grounds to stroll around, and the whole place has been under a new management team since 2004. Exhibitions are also often held, throughout the summer months. Tour is €15 per person, and the chateau is open daily year round from 09.00-17.00 by appointment only. English, Spanish and German spoken. Bottles available to buy direct from €23.
33330 Saint Emilion
05 57 74 43 11
The Sigoyer-Puel family live in this pretty country house and have created a very warm atmosphere, with dogs and cats wandering around, and a tiny cellar at the back. Agriculture raisonée, over the 9.5 hectares, with some malbec in the red, and some muscadelle in the whites. Visits €3, 09.00-18.00 daily, including weekends, but only by appointment. Can buy direct from property.
124 Avenue de Toulouse, 33140 Cadaujac
05 56 30 78 01
In the northern section of the Medoc, this is a great visit, where you can do food and wine matching, and visit the Musee du Cheval (horse museum) which allows you to tour the vineyard in a horse and buggy, or even on horseback with an expert guide.
Daily visits from 09.30-12.00 and 14.00-18.00, no appointment necessary for a basic visit, but preferred. Options include a vertical tasting of old wines, or an introduction to the ‘Art of Blending’ (for groups, booked in advance). The cost depends on the type of visit chosen ; basic one hour visit and tasting is €6.
05 56 58 94 80,
Château Lynch Bages
Jean Michel Cazes now runs this well-loved Pauillac estate, that offers one of the best visitor welcomes in Bordeaux. The immaculate chateaux and winery often stage art exhibitions, and there is a permanent collection of traditional wine presses and other winemaking equipment in the attractive 19th century vat room. And right next door is the gourmet village of Bages.
Daily by appointment. From 09.30-12.00 and 14.00-17.00. €6 for individuals, €5 for groups from 8 people, with tasting of two wines.
05 56 73 24 00
Open on Sundays in summer
(the above chateaux are year round, so don't forget about them in the summer months either).
Chateau du Taillan
Around 20 minutes from the centre of Bordeaux, in La Taillan Médoc, this lovely building that is classified as an historic monument. Friendly and informative visit of 17th century vaulted cellars and the extensive grounds. Run by five sisters, Armelle Fancy Cruse is also a member of Les Medocaines, a group of four female winemakers in the Medoc who run interesting tours where you can get hands-on with things such as harvesting, or blending ( www.lesmedocaines.com ).
Chateau du Taillan is open daily without appointment in summer from 09.00-18.00. Appointments preferred for groups and at weekends. Monday to Saturday in winter (December to March) from 10.00-18.00 Monday to Friday, and 10.00-16.00 on Saturdays. €4 per person during the week, €5 per person at weekends. Boutique.
56 Avenue de la Croix, 33320 Le Taillan Médoc
Tel: 05 56 57 47 00
This is one of the oldest and most beautiful Médoc properties, compact but perfectly formed. A 13th century château, which is pretty rare in this part of the world, and an excellent welcome for visitors. Visits and tasting without appointment seven days a week in July and August. In May and September, from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10.30-18.30. The rest of the year on appointment from Monday to Friday, 9.30-12.30, 13.30-18.00. The property has recently introduced self-guided tours with iPods €5 for adults, €2 for children; the junior version includes a treasure hunt and rescuing a princess from the castle. These are available without appointment at any time. Wine and chocolate tastings also available. Visite Decouverte with guide, one hour 30 minutes €7, students €5 and free for children up to 12.
15 Rue du Château d'Agassac, 33290 Ludon-Médoc
05 57 88 15 47
Château La Tour de By
Visitors to this large Medoc estate can climb up the eponymous tower (actually an old lighthouse dating from 1825), from where you get a lovely view of the surrounding vineyards and visit a wine museum looking at tradtional wine machinery (and some more unusual exhibits, such as a pram that allowed nursing mothers to wheel their babies through the vines while they were grape picking. Free tour and tasting (of two wines, one in barrel and one older vintage), Monday to Friday: 08.00-12.00 and 13.30-17.30. Closed at 16.30 on Friday. Open weekends also in July and August, from 11.00-17.00, by appointment. Appointments necessary only for groups. Can also buy the wines direct.
05 56 41 50 03