Welcome to Château de la Dauphine in Bordeaux! We asked Wine Tourism Manager, Marion Merker, to paint a picture of the experience that awaits discerning wine tourists at Château de La Dauphine.
La Dauphine’s golden Versailles connection lend it a regal air
The expression ‘we eat first with our eyes’ is what might spring to mind when first encountering Château de La Dauphine. The property gives visitors a rare opportunity to step inside the 18th Century chateau, and the noble combination of beautiful architecture, vineyards and grounds (fondly called ‘little Tuscany’), and organic wines delivers a feast for the senses.
The chateau was built between 1744 and 1750 by Jean-Baptiste de Richon, a lawyer at the Parliament of Paris, and a Civil and Criminal Judge in the Duchy of Fronsac. Shortly after its construction, Maria Josepha of Saxony – the then Dauphine of France – came to stay for a few days. The chateau was later named after the princess, who became the mother of last Kings of France, including Louis XVI.
Wine credentials impress at La Dauphine
Sustainability is important to the winery owners and La Dauphine was certified organic in 2015. It continues to showcase an environmentally friendly philosophy in wine production through biodynamic management of its merlot and cabernet franc vines, plot-by-plot vinification, and ultra-modern production facilities.
Among the wines it produces is Château de La Dauphine, a blend of 85 per cent merlot and 15 per cent cabernet franc which pairs well with a dish of wild mushroom quiche or chicken breast with summer truffles. A lighter option is Rosé de La Dauphine, a blend of 80 per cent merlot and 20 per cent cabernet franc which is crafted in a Provence style and pairs beautifully with a summer dish such as tagliatelle with clams, or beef carpaccio.
With a boutique but full range of fine reds, white and rosé, visitors can enjoy wines which reflect the character, finesse and complexity of the local terrain (“terroir”).
Wine and tourism experiences for the culturally and environmentally curious
La Dauphine offers a number of personal wine experiences including tours, workshops and dining.
Those interested in culture can climb aboard a legendary Citroën 2CV to experience La Dauphine and the region’s historical, cultural and gastronomic heritage. This tour takes in the property’s fishing hut and truffle orchard, and ends with a panoramic hilltop tasting of three wines accompanied by regional specialities such as lamprey rillettes, truffle butter, dried duck breast, Basque sheep’s milk cheese, and Bordeaux’s cannelé pastries.
The environmentally curious can opt for the “Green Tour.” Here, visitors will explore the vines, beehives, biodynamic workshop, aquaponics, permaculture vegetable garden and the scented garden. A tasting of three wines to finish takes places in a green “cocoon” in the chateau gardens, accompanied by local honey and Merlot jelly.
Marion describes the characteristics of the people who visit to La Chateau as those with “… a desire to discover our history, to visit the interior of the chateau, to discover our environmentally-friendly approach and to visit our technical facilities and wines.”
Respect for the past and future key to award-winning experiences
Innovation and a respect for past and present are key to the memorable wine tourism experiences La Dauphine create. Marion mentions the upcoming event in autumn 2021 of “transhumance” where 150 ewes will be moved into the vineyard to graze on the grass and enrich the soil with organic fertilizer.
Just as importantly, the drive to continue to improve wine tourism experiences and develop the environmentally friendly philosophy is shared by all who work there and creates a unifying holistic spirit across its 20-strong team. “We are dynamic and enthusiastic about all the choices we make for the vineyard,” said Marion. “Working as a biodynamic vineyard motivates and creates links between everyone because we understand that everything in nature works in harmony.“
On winning a Great Wine Capitals 2020 Global Best Of Wine Tourism Award, Marion describes it as their proudest moment to date. “For us, it is an achievement of all these years spent improving our wine tourism services,” said Marion. “It means that our estate is the representative of Bordeaux vineyards for wine tourism experiences all over the world.”
Beside the Global Best Of in 2020, Château de La Dauphine was also a recipient of Regional Best Of Wine Tourism Awards in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020:
2014 : Gold – Architecture & Landcapes
2016 : Gold – Food Services
2018 : Gold – Sustainable practices
2020 : Gold – Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences
📍 Location: Château de La Dauphine is in Fronsac, in the south-western Bordeaux region of France. It is one of the country’s oldest wine-producing regions with vineyards dating back more than two thousand years to the early Gallo-Roman period.
📢 Tripadvisor review: “We are a family of 4, raised on and passionate about wine. We have travelled the world and been to a multitude of wine regions and chateau trips, including a dozen in the Bordeaux area, and this is by far outstanding from the rest!” More reviews on Tripadvisor.
🍽 Local delicacy to try: Macaroon. The sweet almond pastry was first cooked by nuns in the 17th Century as a source of nourishment during the French Revolution.
🏰 Surrounds to experience: Explore the medieval city and stunning monolithic church of the nearby UNESCO village of Saint-Emilion.
📅 Best time to visit: September and October is a warm and idyllic time marking the final days of grapes ripening on the vines. Other times to visit include during harvest, where you can taste grapes directly from the vines.
👸Historical interest: Chateau de La Dauphine was named after Maria Josepha of Saxony, the wife of the French Dauphin and mother of King Louis XVI, after she stayed for a few days in the 18th Century. This links the chateau with the famed golden age of Versailles.