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2016 Best Of Wine Tourism regional winner: accommodation
Welcome to the comfort zone
As one of the Great Wine Capitals of the world, Bordeaux abounds with chateaux, many of which offer accommodation - from the merely sublime to the giddy heights of luxury. To win a prestigious Best Of Wine Tourism award, The Domaine de Grange Neuve had to be special. I took a trip to the Dordogne to find out why….
The 100 year war may have started a stone’s throw from the domaine - you can see the actual hilltop from the road - but Grange Neuve exudes peace and I can personally vouch for friendly Anglo/French relations. The imposing maison du maitre, nestled in the folds of undulating vineyards, woods and vales was easy to find - it’s the biggest house around!
Here the guests aren’t relegated to a cottage in the grounds or to a draughty tower - the whole house is at your disposal as are the surrounding acres (70 hectares of vines alone). The chateau sleeps a dozen comfortably, with 4 double ensuite bedrooms and a large dormitory under the eaves. The rooms are cozy and there are all mod cons - wifi, under-floor heating and a well equipped kitchen.
The house inside is just as it seems from the outside and from the photos on their website; there’s the ancient splendour - the walls of exposed stone, polished oak flooring and a twisting elm staircase - and thoughtful touches of hospitality. Guests are greeted with a welcoming picnic basket, featuring local produce and homemade jams, and of course, wine. There are board games and even a vaulted billiards room (beware the ancient hooks for hanging hams, still to be found in the ceiling).
Outside you can swim in the heated pool overlooking the vines, fish in the lake, ramble in the grounds or cycle on the bikes provided. The children loved the climbing frame and playhouse. The family also runs activity mornings, to teach youngsters about the life in the vineyards, with games, hands-on activities and grape juice tasting sessions.
The grape juice’s just for starters, because of course, for the adults, there’s the wine! Oh the wine! The domaine is in the heart of Monbazillac country, famous for dessert wines and one of the oldest wine appellations in France. Made from grapes that are picked by hand (the ‘noble rot’ that makes the wines unique is too fragile to be harvested by machine), Monbazillac makes an ideal accompaniment to the local foie gras or as an aperitif. The Bergerac region is also known for drinkable red wines and dry whites, both of which are produced at Grange Neuve and a degustation in the specially converted cave is the perfect place to try the wines, accompanied by canapés or not!
The family is passionate about their vineyards and keen to share their passion - three generations work together on the domaine. There are tastings, tours of the vineyards and even tractor rides through the vines for young and old. Tours and tastings are available in English.
The region is also renowned for its gastronomy. There are several excellent restaurants locally, with Bergerac on the doorstep, Périgueux, Sarlat and Agen a little further away and Bordeaux just over an hour away.
The domaine can also offer a catering service, bookable in advance which makes it ideal for celebrations or large family gatherings.
The visitors’ book glows with happy comments, with guests from all over the world delighted with their stay: it’s easy to understand what makes the domaine a winner. It’s a wonderful place.
Nola d’Enis, January 2016
Domaine de Grange Neuve
Tel : + 33 (0) 5 53 58 42 23 / + 33 (0) 6 81 22 69 42
Email : [email protected]