The splendid and prestigious wine region of Bordeaux teems with numerous Chateaus, each as stunning as the next. Most people can be intimidated by the seemingly untouchable exclusivity of first growth Bordeaux wineries. But when you book a Bordeaux wine tour with us, the gates aren’t necessarily barred! At Bordeaux Wine Trails, we have selected a list of top wineries that you can have the chance to visit. So sit back, relax and see how you can indulge in the magic of some of the world’s greatest vineyards!
Château d’Yquem has a past richly embedded in French history, as it was the first winery to be declared as a Premier Cru Supérieur during the infamous classification period of 1855. This classification was designated at the demand of Emperor Napoléon III, as part of the Exposition Universelle de Paris for the purpose of providing a proof of quality to visitors visiting from all around the world.
The vintages of Château d’Yquem are so exquisite that a French astronaut took several small bottles of Yquem on a trip to outer space in the 1980’s! A famous French writer, Frédéric Dard, also claimed that “After hearing Mozart, the ensuing silence is still Mozart. After a sip of Yquem, the moments that follow are still Yquem“. Such is the quality and prestige of this winery and its wine.
Château Mouton Rothschild
Visiting Château Mouton Rothschild not only means gaining an experience of a refined wine, but also taking an artistic journey. The winery prides itself on the importance of marrying art to the presentation of its wines. For instance, the various labels of each vintage have been designed using the original artwork of a contemporary artist since 1945. This famous artwork represents V for victory; the victory of the Allied forces in WWII. Mouton Rothschild hosts the Museum of Art in Wine alongside its Grand Chai, collecting artwork related to wine throughout history, solidifying a strong connection between wine and the passage of time.
The Château itself is an architectural highlight. Its 100 meter long great barrel hall was designed by the great French architect Charles Siclis. Stepping into a new era, the winery has also refurbished their tasting room for visitors, combining tradition and cutting-edge technology. It was built by the scenographer Richard Peduzzi and Bernard Mazières, a local Bordeaux architect.
The history of Château Angélus is deeply connected to the village of Saint-Emilion. Thanks to the topography of the region, the winery is located in a natural amphitheater. Its great bell (the Angélus bell) could thus be heard throughout the fields as it rang, so people tending the fields could take a break and pray. Château Angélus was also one of the first Saint-Emilion wineries to be classified as a Grand Cru Classé.
The story of Château Margaux goes back to the XII century, but it didn’t actually produce wine at that time. It was only when the Lestonnac family took over the Château in the XVI century that it became a winery. Throughout the centuries, the Château became a place of wine excellence and innovation. It was the first winery to separate white and red grapes for the vinification process. Truly groundbreaking!
The real fascination for Château Margaux’s wines began in England. For instance, it was one of English Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole’s favorite wines. It was also highly appreciated in the United States, as President Thomas Jefferson also favored this distinguished wine. Château Margaux has been maintaining its reputation and producing one of the finest wines for centuries and continues to impress all those that have the privilege of tasting it.
Château Cos d’Estournel
The Château Cos d’Estournelle stands out in particular amidst all the other top growth wineries in Bordeaux thanks to Louis Gaspard d’Estournelle, who was one of a kind compared to his fellow Bordeaux winemakers. His given nickname was “the Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe”, as he was curious about the world. And he dedicated part of his mission to pursue new markets in Asia – India in particular.
His interest for the East is quite apparent in the winery’s architecture too. Pagodas, ornaments and elephants sculptures decorate the winery, creating a sumptuous and exotic atmosphere for all visitors to marvel at.
Château La Gaffelière
The origins of Château La Gaffelière goes way back to Gallo-Roman times, with evidence of their vines and lands dating back to this ancient period. The Malet Roquefort family who run the Château, found aged mosaics from this period depicting vines from the property. This winery’s land forms what is known locally in Saint-Emilion as a golden triangle, as it is located between the hills of nearby Pavie and Ausone.
The fame of Château Haut-Brion goes hand in hand with the prestigious Pontac family who owned it. Arnaud III de Pontac in particular (who was also the Bordeaux Parliament’s President) engraved his name on the Château’s history of winemaking. He perfected conservations techniques that enabled the wine to age, thus creating a new style of wine. He called this wine “new French claret” that could improve wonderfully with time. This revolution resulted in the style of our current red wines.
How to visit these exclusive Bordeaux wineries?
If you are interested in having the chance to visit some of these wineries for yourself, then contact us at Bordeaux Wine Trails, and we would be more than happy to create your dream wine tour experience! Our English speaking local guides are here to introduce you to our plentiful terroir, and to give you a better understanding of the differences between Old World and New World wine culture as you learn more about Bordeaux’s reputable history and evolution.
The best way to make your wine tour dreams come true is to book in advance, sometimes even months ahead, so we can try and ensure that these high demand wineries are available to you! Keep in mind that these wineries are usually closed from the public and only for wine professionals. So being able to visit is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
We would be delighted to help you unlock the gates to reveal the magic that these wineries possess. So what are you waiting for? Contact us and we will ensure that you get a unique taste of the world’s best wine in some of Bordeaux’s first growth wineries.