Chateau Pichon Longueville, where we stay
Chateau Haut Brion
Chateau Cheval Blanc
Bordeaux First Growths
11 - 15 March 2013
Join us on this memorable tour led by wine writer Stephen Brook, author of the definitive tome on the region ‘The Complete Bordeaux’. Stephen will lead us on a journey to visit the First Growths, as well as other specially selected out-performing chateaux.
Our base for the first three nights is the beautiful Château Pichon-Longueville, with its fairytale appearance and turrets. This is not a hotel and not open to the general public, so is a privileged invitation to Arblaster & Clarke’s Bordeaux-loving clientele.
Following our welcome dinner in the elegant dining room at Pichon, we begin with our visits in the illustrious commune of Pauillac to and hope to start with a visit to Château Lafite-Rothschild. This is is a picture-postcard chateau with a beautiful garden and mirror lake, the ideal setting for tasting these first class wines rated amongst the best for quality in the world. Listed at the top of the 1855 First Growth classification, the name comes from the local dialect word “fite” (mound), and indeed at 27 metres as it is one of the highest placed vineyards in Pauillac. If one were to choose one adjective for the wines of Lafite, it would surely be elegant.
Throughout the day we also hope to visit Château Cos d’Estournel and one other oustanding Pauillac address. Our dinner this evening we hope is with the Duboscq family of Haut-Marbuzet, St-Estèphe, whose wines are a personal favourite of Stephen, and which showed so well in a tasting on our November 2011 tour.
After breakfast at Pichon we hope to visit Chateau Issan, which is a delightfully beautiful property and whose wines Stephen rates highly.
After free time in the village of Margaux over lunch, our afternoon will include a privileged tasting at the iconic estate of Chateau Margaux. The wines of this classically beautiful château, with its colonnades and tree-lined approach, have been in a peerless position since 1976, when the Mentzelopoulos family took over. Paul Pontallier, ensures that Château Margaux typifies the wines of its commune more than any other of the 1st Growths by exhibiting soft, velvety texture, a warmth and richness of palate and a distinct note of violets on the nose.
Dinner that evening, we hope will be at Château Pichon Comtesse de Lalande. The wines have always had great finesse and breed. The fact that part of the vineyard lies in St Julien helps to give the wine a special character, more opulent and feminine than a Pauillac, but richer than a St Julien. The introduction of the Réserve de Comtesse has led to a more rigorous selection and a corresponding rise in quality. This is now one of the most prized wines in the Médoc after the firsts.
We leave the left bank, calling in en route at the newly refurbished Chateau Haut-Brion, where we will also taste the wines of their sister property, Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Haut-Brion is in the Pessac-Léognan appellation within the Graves. This is the only estate outside the Médoc to feature in the 1855 classification of red wines and is undoubtedly one of the oldest wine-producing châteaux in the entire region, which has been exporting to the UK since the 15th century. We continue to St Emilion where we stay in a 4* Chateau Hotel for our last evening.
We are awaiting the confirmation of our last couple of visits at present. As with all Arblaster & Clarke Bordeaux ‘Reserve Collection’ wine tours, our visits will be one of a selection of the finest chateaux in Bordeaux. We hope that these will include a visit to Château Cheval Blanc, to see their stunning new modern architecture cellars and taste as private guests.
Our last day will hopefully conclude with one of the most outstanding wines of the world at Château d’Yquem. No property in France dominates its appellation in the way that d’Yquem dominates Sauternes. At 113 ha, d’Yquem is the biggest property in the AOC. d’Yquem is one of the most difficult wines on earth to make, yet the tradition of quality and selectivity is such here that it is one of the most consistent of all great wines.
This outstanding line up of visits, together with the added experience of staying in a Chateau on the Left Bank is something clients on a similar tour in 2011 rated as extremely memorable. Due to the limited nature of the rooms at Pichon, the maximum party size is merely 10 participants, so this is genuinely small party wine touring and early booking is highly recommended.
NB: Given the long lead time as of November 2011, the chateaux have agreed to see us in principle, but Lafite, Latour and Margaux may be in building works, in which case we will arrange tastings of their wines.