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The list of Bordeaux Châteaux who are opening restaurants amongst their vines or in their cellars continues to grow. La Chapelle at Château Guiraud in Sauternes, La Terrasse Rouge at Château La Dominique in Saint-Emilion and Le Manège at Château Léognan in Pessac-Léogan are a few Best of Winners that have done just that. Château Cordeillan-Bages in Pauillac even has a Michelin star restaurant and a hotel amongst their vines.
Other vineyards here in Bordeaux may not have restaurants but that doesn't mean you can't experience their gourmet hospitality. Many will open their doors for you to enjoy the privacy of their dining rooms for a unique French chateau experience.
The recently renovated Château Beauregard in Pomerol has a beautiful dining room overlooking the lily filled moat and gardens of this traditional chartreuse. Nearby in Saint-Emilion, the more grandiose Château Soutard also opens its elegant salons to small groups of guests for an intimate gastronomic experience.
Jean-Charles Poinsot is the in-house chef of Château Haut-Bailly. Every morning he scours the market for the best of the fresh local produce to create menus to complement the wines of the château. As well the beautiful dining room where you will samples his dishes, you can enjoy an aperitif on the terrace overlooking the vines before your lunch or dinner.
If you are looking for a more relaxed gourmet experience. Try a summer a picnic, with a bottle of wine of course. Château De La Dauphine is in Fronsac, on the banks of the majestic Dordogne. Enjoy a picnic high up in their vineyard to make the most of the incredible views, or stay down by the château and let them serve you an alfresco experience by the pool.
If it's a taste of the great outdoors you are looking for, head to nearby Château Boutinet. Owner Nathalie Escudero will accompany you on a walk through the vineyards, explaining the natural environment they are working hard to preserve, before offering you a tasting and tapas in their eco friendly yurt
Château de Cérons will lay on a more elegant picnic for you under the trees of the park of this 17th century classified monument. You can pick and choose from the local specialities in their boutique to create your own feast to accompany the wines of the property.
Perhaps you would prefer to improve your food and wine matching skills testing some unusual combinations. After an interactive visit of their vines, château and cellar, Château Lamothe Bergeron will lay on at tasting of delicious macaroons with their wines - perfect for those of you with a sweet tooth. Talking of a sweet tooth, wine and chocolate is another excellent pairing that you can try at Château de Ferrand in Saint-Emilion.
Feeling extravagant? Why not a wine and caviar tasting? The Bordeaux region is a leading caviar producer. Château de Ferrand in Saint-Emilion dares you to try caviar with their red wine whereas Château Fourcas Hostens in Listrac serves it up in a more classic fashion with their exclusive production of dry white wine from this traditional red wine appellation.
Of course cheese and wine go beautifully together, Château Carbonnieux in Pessac-Léognan organises fun and educational workshops on the last Saturday of every month with cheese makers and refiners, Thierry and Véronique Lafitte. One of the Perrin brothers, owners of the château will guide you in the choice of the perfect wine (red, white, young, old…) to accompany different cheeses (goat’s, cow’s, blue…). You might be in for some surprises. A surprise too at Château Guiraud in Sauternes where their wine and cheese pairing workshop shows just how well sweet wine goes with a variety cheeses.
Instead of tasting someone else's cuisine why not perfect your own culinary skills? Château Gruaud Larose invites you into the kitchens of their elegant 18th century château. Here, a glass of wine in hand, you will learn the secrets behind some local recipes. Once your masterpiece is ready; you will enjoy the fruits of your labours in the château dining room, accompanied by the wine of the property of course.
By Wendy Narby