May 10, 2024

Trailblazers of Bordeaux

From established names who have led and continue to lead the field of wine tourism to the younger generation experimenting with new technology and labels, Bordeaux has no shortage of trail blazers across wine making, sustainability, tourism and innovation. Here are a few worth following

Chateau Paloumey (2023 Best Of Wine Tourism Winner for their sustainable practices) has a fascinating recent history. The vines were completely uprooted in the 1950s and the vineyard left idle until 1989, when Martine Caseneuve bought the property and replanted, bringing it back to life.

Now run by her son Pierre Cazeneuve, an agricultural engineer with a passion for ‘agro-ecology’, he has re structured and converted the property to organic viticulture. Recreating and preserving biodiversity is a major motivation as is being a part of the local community. The chateau opens doors to local schools and Pierre is invested in education for young, disadvantaged locals wanting to enter the wine industry through les Vignerons du Vivants.



His open door philosophy and proximity to Bordeaux have made the property a leader in Haut-Medoc wine tourism. He is an ace communicator using humour and self-depreciation to great effect on his Instagram account. His latest innovation is a rare blanc de noirs wine. This white wine made from red grapes; a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot –  his first foray into white wine launched this Spring. He’s not afraid of shaking things up, encouraging his fans to create cocktails with his second red wine La Plume – making it perfect for the long hot days of summer to come.




At Château Thieuley (2024 Best Of Wine Tourism Winner for their sustainable practices) in the Entre deux Mers, sisters Marie and Sylvie Courselle were one of the first to plant non Bordeaux varieties, almost 20 years ago.

They planted Chardonnay and Syrah, a daring innovation for a property in the same family for over 100 years. As the wines are Vin de France, they can’t be bottled under the Chateau name, so they called them ‘Les Truffieres’  after the nearby truffle oaks, an example of the biodiversity of the property.


You’ll also find olive trees, orchards, hedgerows and bee hives. Certified sustainable, they are also certified Bee Friendly, planting their fallow land to beautiful wild flowers every summer.


Sibling rivalry

Not far away, brothers Edouard and Thomas Le Grix de la Salle are also experimenting with ’forbidden’ grape varieties. They reached across the wine regions of France, planting Syrah from Cornas, and Chenin-Blanc from the Loire alongside their collection of historic Bordeaux varieties.



They also produce a Pet Nat and an orange wine from Semillon grapes, packaging them all with fun labels. They are both reaching a broader market and making it even more interesting for visitors to their 16th century Château Le Grand Verdus (2023 Best Of Wine Tourism Winner for their Architecture and Landscape).


It’s not only wine where collaboration comes in useful. Alongside their red white rosé and sparkling Bordeaux wine range, Château Camarsac is making beer. Thierry Lurton has teamed up with brewer, Nathanaël Rogier, combining hops and grapes, Sémillon must to be precise, to make their « Bière de l’amitié »



Coralie du Boüard at Clos de Boüard, in Montage Saint Emilion, is also innovating. In 2021 she created Prince Oscar, one of the first dealcoholized wines in the region. She began experimenting in 2019, using a cold de alcoholising technique under vacuum to preserve a maximum of original aromas. The production now accounts for 20% of the production of the vineyard.






Cooperative robots

New technology is also in the vineyard. The Monbazillac cooperative has been working with the regional research hub, VitiRev, since 2020 on their project to end pesticide use in viticulture.


This includes testing an autonomous tractor on the 30 hectares that the co-op owns around the Château of Monbazillac (2023 Best Of Wine Tourism in Art & Culture). ‘Ted’ the driverless tractor weeding vines in front of the medieval monument has become a hit with the 100 000 people that visit the château every year.





Classic innovation

Château Giscours, 2024 International Best Of Wine Tourism Winner, is and always has been a pioneer in wine tourism. A classified Growth of Margaux this huge (300 ha of which almost 100 are under vine) and historic property dates back to the 16th century. It is the first château you see as you enter the prestigious appellation of Margaux.

The classic 19th century château is open for private tastings, lunches and dinners, thanks the farm to fork philosophy of La Table de Giscours. The Ferme Suzanne is a vibrant centre for large receptions and events. Both are at the heart of a park and woodlands, where guests discover the traditional biodiversity of this beautiful site. A visit to the property starts with an interactive 3D guide to the property a philosophy exemplifies the modern, open-door policy that now defines Bordeaux. The perfect blend of old and new.



Photos Credits : ©Felipe Barbosa/CIVB / ©Château Paloumey / ©Château Thieuley /©Chateau Le Grand Verdus / ©Château Monbazillac / ©Château Giscours
Author : Wendy Narby - Insider Tasting