Château Cos D'Estournel
Bordeaux: People, Power & Politics
6 - 10 November 2011
This top level Bordeaux tour is led by eminent wine writer Stephen Brook, author of “The Complete Bordeaux”, and takes its name from Stephen’s previous multi-award winning volume. Despite being written 10 years ago, the book is still extremely relevant. “Bordeaux – People, Power and Politics” is not a snapshot of a region or a catalogue of chateaux with wine notes that would have dated it. It is about the ‘how’ of Bordeaux. How the region works, how the merchants, importers, style gurus and chateaux interact, how vintages get judged and sold, and thus how they become over-priced or underpriced. On the trip Stephen will pick up some of the threads discussed in the book in meetings with people who matter in the Bordeaux trade.
On this special wine tour you will have the unique privilege of staying as private guests in the magnificent classical Château Pichon Longueville, 2ème Cru Classé, which is a wine château with private accommodation, and not a “Château Hotel”; so you are the guest at a “House Party” rather than a “Hotel guest”. There are just five very spacious chateaux bedrooms and one very small double (which is offered either as a double with a reduction in price or as the only sole occupancy room) approached by a magnificent sweeping staircase. The rooms are individually decorated with antique furnishings and face either the front courtyard and pond or the park at the rear. All have an en suite bathroom with a Victorian style bath accessed via a small set of wooden steps. There are comfortable spacious salons, where you can relax in the evening after dinner over a complimentary cognac, and an elegant private dining room where we will dine on one of the evenings and where you have your breakfast each morning.
Visits and tastings will be hosted by the owners or directors of the chateaux at Stephen’s request. At present (November 2010) the following have confirmed to Stephen that they are looking forward to meeting us: –
Alfred Tesseron at Château Pontet Canet 5ème Cru Classé Pauillac, the 81 hectare organic neighbour of Chateau Mouton. M. Tesseron has argued that Bordeaux as a luxury product should be expensive, yet his wine, an ‘over-performer’ is consistently good value.
We hope to meet the charming Anthony Barton or his daughter Lillian, at the beautiful 18th century Châteaux Langoa this evening. Langoa and Léoville-Barton have been in the family since 1821. Sophie and Natalie Schyler welcome us at Château Kirwan. Their brother runs the negociant side of the business Shroeder & Schyler.
Jean-Guillaume Prats of Cos d’Estournel hosts lunch. The new wealth of the chateau means that the Chinese style Pagoda hides the most advanced and envied facility in Bordeaux.
We have an appointment with Paul Pontallier at Château Margaux. To quote Stephen “…. Margaux will be delicious just as it is, but it becomes an infinitely more complex experience if one has had the pleasure of visiting the vineyard (and) knowing who makes the wine.”
Comte Eric D’Aramon meets us at Château Figeac in St Emilion. Family ownership is of great importance to this 1èr Grand Cru Classé.
Graf Stephen Von Niepperg is responsible for the restoration of Canon-la-Gaffelière to its former glory. La Mondotte, Clos de L’Oratorie and D’Aiguilhe have all benefitted from his touch too, so a meeting with him will be extremely interesting.
On the last evening before dinner we’ll see the Château Pichon chai and taste the recent vintage, then enjoy further Pichon wines over dinner. Wines from other Axa Millèsimes chateaux, including Petit-Village and Suduiraut will be served too. We hope to be joined by Christian Seely, Managing Director of Axa Millesemes, which owns Château Pichon Longueville.
M. Bonnie, successful new(-ish) owner of Château Malartic-Lagravière in Pessac-Leognan gives us an outsider’s perspective of how to get your chateaux established. Of course having wonderful wines, as he does, helps!
Olivier Casteja hosts the last visit and lunch on the tour at Château Doisy-Vedrines 2ème Cru Classé Sauternes. Sauternes has been a victim of a change in fashion and its price has slipped badly in the last 50 years. Doisy-Vedrines is a delicious wine, but how to sell it? The Castejas are deeply involved in the Bordeaux trade and run the negociants, Joanne. Olivier can explain what is meant by the negociants “oiling the wheels of the trade”. This will be a fascinating conclusion to the tour
As you can imagine, in the company of someone like Stephen Brooks, who has spent so much time researching the region, writing about it, tasting the wines and meeting the owners, you will be extremely well received. This is not a tour designed by an opportunitistic travel firm with little knowlege of its subject (these do exist, sadly and are damaging the handful of us who aspire to give you the authentic experience) but by those who have a true understanding and passion for connecting the serious wine enthusiast with the wine and its makers
NB: Much as we would like to include a visit to Chateau Mouton Rothschild, as indeed we have many times over the last twenty years, as the leading wine tours specialists we know our subject and that the chateau has been closed for major renovations for over a year and remains closed until further notice. There are less reputable companies that make promises to get you in here so you should ask them on what their promises are based and ask that they provide you with hard hats!