Meet the 2020 Best Of Wine Tourism winners of Bordeaux

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Château de La Dauphine was crowned International Best Of Wine Tourism 2020, but there was fierce competition for all seven categories.

Château De la Dauphine visitors climb into an iconic Citroën 2 CV for the "Heritage Tour" of the estate. Starting in the park of the chateau the guide will give an insight into the history of the property and the Fronsac appellation. After a visit to the vineyards, the fishing hut "carrelet" on the banks of the Dordogne River and the truffle orchard of La Dauphine, motor up the slopes of the vineyard for a hilltop wine tasting, accompanied by local gourmet specialities whilst over appreciating the magnificent views of the Dordogne valley.

 

Architecture and Landscapes

Le Cloitre des Cordeliers took the prize in the Architecture and Landscapes category. Up until now, this little corner of Saint Emilion has been a well-kept secret, named after the Franciscan monks who wore a cord rope around their robes. Sit in the gardens and ruined cloisters of this former 14th century monastery, sipping on the bubbles of Crément de Bordeaux aged in the cellars below. The bar also offers regional specialities to create your own picnic to enjoy amongst the monolithic columns.

Earlier this year, the cloisters re-opened the renovated 14th century church to the public. The beautiful building houses tasting corners and boutiques selling wine, regional souvenirs and gifts. Most importantly it is the entrance to the network of underground cellars carved 20 metres in the limestone below, where the sparkling Crément de Bordeaux wines have been matured since 1892.

There were two runners-up in the category: Château de Camarsac and Château Tour Saint Christophe

Château de Camarsac is an impressive medieval fortress atop a hill in the Entre-deux-Mers. A self-guided visit takes you through the centuries, from the medieval keep to the XVI century dovecote, the XVIII century inner courtyard and neo-gothic decoration up to the modern day winery with its solar panelled roof. Stay in the present with a tasting while enjoying the panoramic view.

Le Château Tour Saint Christophe is a Grand Cru of Saint-Emilion from the XVIII century with terraced vineyards held up by dry stonewalls.  The owner, Peter Kwok, has renovated over a kilometre of these walls using local craftsman all working by hand. The site is preserved just as it was in the XVIII century and visitors are welcome to wander through the vineyard to discover this treasure before tasting the wines at the chateau.

Art & Culture

Château Malromé took the Gold Best Of prize in the Art and Culture category.

Unsurprising really, as Château Malromé was the historical residence of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. This 16th century castle celebrates the life and work of the painter. A guided tour of the interior takes you into the intimate atmosphere of his home. The chateau is not uniquely turned towards the past; an annual contemporary exhibition reflects the painter's passion for Japan. A theme also found in the on-site restaurant, Adèle x Maison Darroze, which blends traditional French cuisine with an Asian accent.

Château la Dominique was a previous Best Of winner, thanks to its winery created by Jean Nouvel and the restaurant that sits atop it. For the last two years, the chateau has housed a contemporary art exhibition on the theme 'Red' to symbolise both audacity and modernity. Last year the theme was red in towns and forests, this year the theme was red as the colour of action, underlining a different perception of the work of the vineyard and winery.

Château de Ferrand, was also a previous winner of the Best Of award for architecture, thanks to the brilliant renovation of the property.  Visiting Château de Ferrand you enter into the heart of a work of art. Skilled craftsmen have worked in stone, wood, leather and metal to create some surprising features. The walls of the 'Salon Bic’ are a nod towards the owners, the family of the Baron Bich, who bought the property in 1978. The walls are covered, from floor to ceiling, with a fresco by Alexandre Doucin, drawn in Bic biro. It brings the beautiful park surrounding the chateau right into the tasting room, beautifully reproducing the 360° views from this high point of the appellation.

The reception room has a unique ceiling also bringing the outside in. Long aluminium blades create an undulating surface that reflects the daylight, like a beautiful cloud. The oak circular tasting 'bar' is a nod to the barrel cellar but far from rustic, as it rotates on its axis to face inwards or outwards to suit number of guests joining the tasting.

Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices

In the Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices category the Vignerons de Tutiac took the gold. 

Bordeaux’s leading cooperative winery, it is committed to an Agri Confiance® approach encouraging environmentally friendly viticulture. Tutiac is certified “HVE (Haute Valeur Environmental) level 2” and are working towards (HVE3) the highest level. This bans the use of toxic CMR ("carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic".) products.

On the "Bordeaux’s vineyard in 2030" tour, discover the experimental vineyard to understand the challenges of sustainable viticulture in Bordeaux with it's humid 'Atlantic' climate. See the research and trials carried out by Tutiac for the well-being of tomorrow’s vineyard, and their work towards producing a wine with a Zero Pesticide Residue (ZRP) label.

As well as a working vineyard, runner up Château Angludet is the home of the Sichel family, wine merchants in Bordeaux for six generations. At one of the oldest properties in the Médoc, Benjamin Sichel uses a blend of integrated, organic and alternative management practices to protect the environment and preserve the terroir for future Sichel generations. Daisy Sichel will take you through the vineyard where she grew up in an electric golf cart, affectionately known as Bernadette. Daisy Sichel will use an electric golf cart, affectionately known as Bernadette, to take you through the vineyard where she grew up.  Explore the biodiversity, plants and animals as well as the vines and, with a glass of wine in hand, discover the history of the chateau, the vineyard and winemakers. After a visit to the vat and barrel cellar, taste two others vintages in the tasting room.

Respecting the natural environment has always been a priority for the other runner up, Château d'Eyran, another family vineyard, also HVE certified. Their contemporary cellar was built to maximise light with a central glass roof and floor-to-ceiling windows. Insulated to economise energy, the building materials are both ecological and local; bio bricks, terracotta tiles, lime and paint from natural pigments.  Discover this innovative cellar before tasting the wines produced there.

Accomodation

Château Pont Saint-Martin won the Gold award for Accommodation at the property.

Amongst the Crus Classés of Pessac-Léognan, Château Pont Saint-Martin offers luxury accommodation in a 17th century property, surrounded by a park of century-old trees, ponds, fountains and colonnades. With its pink façade, turquoise blue shutters and unique architecture, this Palladian villa invites you to relax and unwind in one of the five rooms and suites built in the old winemaking cellars. Carrara marble, solid oak parquet and bathrooms all contribute to a relaxing stay, as does the heated swimming pool and jacuzzi. After a delicious fresh breakfast, discover the surrounding vineyards on one of the chateau bikes.

Cru Bourgeois Château Malescasse also offers spectacular accommodation, a clever blend of the classic and the contemporary in this 19th century chateau surrounded by 40 ha of Médoc vineyard. An intimate and very personal atmosphere offers you the private use of the entire chartreuse. Complete your stay with a picnic in the park, dinner in the private dining room, a cooking class and of course a visit to the cellar and a tasting in the gallery come tasting room.

Château Pape Clément,  is a green oasis of 60 ha of vines just 15 minutes from Bordeaux. Five sumptuous rooms in the chateau showcase a private art collection, polished oak panelling, baccarat chandeliers and so much more for a complete French chateau experience, just a stone's throw from the town centre.

 

Wine Tourism restaurants

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey was the Gold winner for the Wine Tourism Restaurant category.

Unsurprising given that just a year after opening, they have already won their first Michelin star. Under the ownership of Sylvio Denz, this fortress-like chateau is enjoying a renaissance. The opening in June 2018 of the Lalique Hotel was a 400th birthday present to the estate. The decor is amazing, with Lalique crystal everywhere; the door handles, the arm rests of chairs and sofas, crystal panels of the signature grape motif inlaid into the furniture, crystal vine leaf light fittings and chandeliers, vases and other objets d’art scattered around the rooms. A modern extension designed by Mario Botti houses the restaurant; the ceiling is decorated with gold crystal Semillon leaves. More Lalique pieces grace the tables. It takes quite a chef to compete with all this and Jérôme Schilling, the former executive chef of Villa René Lalique, has risen to the challenge with a menu that plays with different ways of using Sauternes in both preparing the food and serving it. In his opinion ‘Sweet wine brings other foods into the realm of haute cuisine’. I'll drink to that.

Château Malartic-Lagravière

This chateau, beautifully renovated by the Bonnie family, gives visitors an insight into an elegant French way of life. The family welcome you into their home for exclusive lunches and dinners prepared by their in-house chef to match their Pessac Léognan wines. Their  'Premium Château Experience' will share three dishes created by Michelin starred chefs specifically to match with their wines. You can also enjoy the cheese and wine tasting or a cuisine workshop, which includes Argentinian as well as Bordeaux specialities, a nod towards the family bodega in Mendoza. 

Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences

Château la Dauphine (cover photo) took the Gold in the Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences as well as the international Best of Wine Tourism this year - see above, with runners up Château de Reignac and Château La Tour Blanche.

At Chateau de Reignac children are not forgotten in the Best of Awards.  'Once Upon A Time On The Planet' is a visit designed to help children and their parents discover the world of wine making together. The visit explains the importance of protecting the natural environment, looking at the animals and insects that live in the vineyard. Encouraged to use all their senses: closing their eyes to 'hear' nature in a tepee in the garden, using their sense of smell in the aroma garden, their sense of touch with feathers and tree bark in the Gustave Eiffel greenhouse children will also taste in the dovecote, but not wine! Wine will be served to the adults while children experiment with identifying the differences between sweet, salt, acid and bitterness. Preparing for a new vocation perhaps.

Another winner for Sauternes this year is First growth, Château la Tour Blanche, offering a new and unusual visit: the Vino Challenge. Organised as a game, it calls on your senses to understand the mysteries of wine. A blind-tasting explores varietals, blends and vintages and a quiz will test your general wine knowledge. It is a relaxed way to learn about wine that covers all the colours of Bordeaux wine, white, red rosé and, of course, golden! 

Château de Seguin invites you on an immersive journey to understanding wine and its history. Discover their collection of old wine making and vine working tools, and let the 'son et lumiere' experience take you back to the 1920s, with the sounds and the images of the workers at the chateau, from the field to bottling. Find out what has changed and what remains the same.

Wine Tourism Services

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion won the gold for the Wine Tourism Services category.

Close to Bordeaux the chateau has created a unique environment for professional events offering both intimate and large reception rooms. In keeping with the philosophy of the chateau, they blend historic architecture and contemporary decoration. The château is surrounded by the natural environment of the vineyard, a 13 ha wooded park and the 4 000 m² Euphoria Garden. This garden is a colourful and fragrant display of 7,500 plants, illustrating the aromatic profile of the white wines of the property and 15,000 perennials and grasses profiling the red wines. The perfect Zen break from a busy work schedule.

Get closer to nature surrounded by the vines, on the edge of the Unesco Heritage Site of Saint Emilion. The Yelloh Village is a great base for a Bordeaux right bank adventure, whether its visiting vineyards or historical sites. Or stay to fish on the banks of the lake in the 10 ha park. Of course there's a wine shop on site that also sells local gourmet specialities.

 If you are looking for an original way to tour, and fancy traveling further South than Bordeaux, Tendance Sud is for you. Discover the 100 ha of the magnificent and secretive Jurancon vineyard in a Volkswagen Kombi (camper van). Along with the van, you will be given a case containing clues turning you into the Sherlock Holmes of the vines as you investigate the mystery. It might be a robbery, a murder or a kidnapping. You will have to visit local wine makers, and taste their wines to pick up clues to solve the enigma.

Special Award

The Coup de Coeur or Jury's favourite this year is La Fleur de Bouard

In the lesser-known appellation of Lalande de Pomerol, is the passion project of Hubert de Boüard de Laforest of Château Angelus fame. The high tech wine cellar with its suspended, inverted vats illustrates his innovative approach to wine making. The contemporary architecture in wood and glass seems to bring the vineyard into the winery underlying his commitment to preserving the natural environment. Thanks to the on-site laboratory, your visit will introduce you to all the aspects of wine making and even allow you to create you own wine.  You can also stay on in one of the three guest rooms and enjoy the pool as well as their warm hospitality.

Wendy Narby