Jul 24, 2022

Taste out of the box

Bordeaux chateaux are becoming more adventurous in the way they share their wine, their properties and their wine making philosophies.
A walk in the park

Château Olivier,  located the appellation Pessac Léognan of Bordeaux vineyards, invites visitors to step into their forest. This huge property covers 230 ha, of which just 60ha are vines, the rest are parkland, meadows, ponds and protected woodland. With trees of over 100 years old it’s the perfect place to practice Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. The chateau started sharing this ancient Japanese experience with guests this spring.

Neighbouring Château Smith Haut Lafitte also invites visitors to discover their woodland. In 2017, they created the Forest of the Five Senses, a land art installation. Guests follow the woodland path that leads them through a collection of contemporary artworks to awaken all the senses. Including taste of course, once you’re back at the chateau.

 

Further south of Bordeaux vineyards, Château Rayne Vigneau, in Sauternes gets even more up close and personal with trees, hoisting visitors up to a platform in an ancient cedar tree to taste the wine, enjoying breath-taking  views.

Total immersion

At Les Sources de Caudalie, in the grounds of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, you can enjoy a fully immersive wine experience. Spa treatments include a scrub with crushed grape pips, a massage with grape pulp and grape seed oil and a therapeutic bath with grape skin extracts dissolved in the hot spring waters.

Wine and wellness

Meditation is order of the day at  Château de Cérons. After lunch in the park stretch out on long wooden loungers made of ancient vat staves. Comfortably installed with your glass of Cerons wine, headphones play EMDR beats sending you into deep relaxation.

 

Château Boutinet in Fronsac also believes relaxation leads to a better tasting experience. Guests can join a yoga and meditation class in the eco yurt, creating the perfect mind set to then taste their organic wines. Families are welcome with the LegOeno visit. While the parents discover the vineyard and wines, children build a Lego version of this ancient chateau.

 

Playful

Grownups can play too. How about an escape game to share the long history of these properties? Château de Crouseilles in the south west, offers an escape game from the cellars and Château Monconseil Gazin in Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux will lock you in their ancient cellar, only letting you out when you have found Charlemagne’s hidden treasure.

 

Bio delicious

Pursuing biodiversity in the vineyards, lots of properties have taken to keeping bees, selling chateau-bottled honey alongside their bottles of wine. Château Dauzac in Margaux runs hands on workshops with their beekeeper where visitors can learn all about the life of a beehive and leave with a pot of honey.

 

Make a date

Most properties offer food and wine tastings, from picnics in the park to elegant chateau dinners or wine and chocolate pairings. At Château Kirwan you can match a wine with a special event. Thanks to the excellent collection of old vintages in their cellar, guests can taste a vintage that marks a special date for them, a birthday or anniversary.

 

Perfumed

Bordeaux wines are known for their aromatic complexity and tasting wine is all about these aromas. At Château Kirwan you can go deeper into the aromatic complexity of wine by creating your very own perfume, training your nose to identify aromas you will then find in the wine.

 

Get around

Hikes, bikes and canoes are all active ways to explore the Bordeaux vineyards. La Bulle Verte has created electric bike and scooter experiences in partnership with 13 Bordeaux properties from Château Prieuré Lichine in Margaux to Château Guiraud in Sauternes. Guests choose their distance and are guided by an app that explains different sustainable initiatives along the way. Château La Faurie Peyraguey offers guests a silent electric scooter tour  through their Sauternes vines leading directly to a Michelin star lunch at their Lalique hotel and restaurant. The nearby Ciron river is the perfect place to paddle though the vines of Sauternes and Barsac in a kayak.

 

Make your own wine

If you think you have what it takes to become a wine maker, you can try your hand. Blending is the key to great Bordeaux. Blending grape varieties, but also the same varieties from different soils. At Château Lagrange you can taste the component parts that go into this classified wine and then make your own blend. How will it compare to the experts?

Or take this concept a step further at Viniv. Based near the cellars of Château Lynch Bages in Pauillac, Viniv allows you to select wines from top terroirs across Bordeaux and create a barrel of your very own blend, with help from the experts at the property. Choose your blend of grapes and soils, choose your barrel ageing regime, then create your own label. With a bit of patience while the wine ages you can bring your very own Bordeaux back home.

 

Put your feet up

If this all sounds a bit exhausting, end the day relaxing with a glass of wine in the shade of a tree in the park at Château Lamothe Bergeron. A well-earned rest.

Check out the Best Of Wine Tourism winners for more innovative experiences in Bordeaux vineyards!

Wendy Narby

Insider Tasting