The Graves is known as the cradle of Bordeaux wines, its wine history going back 2 000 years. Today, wine makers are happy to welcome visitors back again and they are ready with lots of new experiences to share alongside their wines. Below are a couple of suggested itineraries for two tastry trips through Graves and Sauternes, but you can explore further by going onto their website to design your very own, personalised itinerary.
Only one day? Discover unusual wine matches and splendid architecture.
First stop: Morning coffee!
Just 40 minutes from Bordeaux centre you will be in Sauternes, start your day with a coffee at 1st growth Château Sigalas Rabaud. Not just any coffee, a coffee made from beans aged in a ex-Sauternes barrel, adding more delicious flavours to your morning pick me up. Stay on to discover the chateau, the cellars and of course the wine. Try the non-sulphur wine served on the terrace overlooking the vines. You could even come down the night before and enjoy coffee for breakfast as the chateau has a few beautiful guest rooms.
Second stop: Picnic chic.
From Sauternes head back in the direction of Bordeaux, stopping at Château de Cérons in the Graves. Admire the architecture of this beautiful 18th century chateau with the owners, Xavier and Caroline Perromat, and then enjoy a picnic in the shade of the ancient magnolias accompanied by white, red, rosé and sweet wines of the property. Perhaps try their brand new Orange wine.
Third stop: French teatime
Château la Louvière is another classified historical monument, this time in Pessac-Léognan. Working with chocolate maker Tofino, they have selected four different chocolates to taste alongside four different wines from their estates on the appellation. Discover the differences in the wines based on their terroir and how the chocolate enhances their diversity. Before leaving, enjoy the park around the beautiful and perfectly restored neoclassical château.
Fourth stop: Aperitif.
At the end of the afternoon relax with a glass of wine at classified growth Château Pape Clément. If you are here on a Thursday evening, a food truck will be on hand to help you finish your gastronomic day. You are now only 20 minutes from the centre of Bordeaux, but if it’s all too exhausting you can stay over in one of the six sumptuous suites in the château.
A Wine and adventure weekend away.
First stop: Alfresco lunch
Arrive at Château Haut-Bergey in Pessac-Léognan in time for lunch with owner Sylviane Garcin or her son Paul at their biodynamic vineyard with the white and red wines of the property. Discover the secrets behind biodynamic agriculture and how it respects and preserves the natural environment.
Second stop: Explore
In nearby Bommes, you can work off lunch by hopping on an electric scooter to discover the rolling hillsides of Sauternes. You will ride past the famous names of the appellation with Fred, your guide, and stop off for a tasting at one of the classified chateaux on the route. If you fancy a little more exercise, try your hand at canoeing along the Ciron River. The picturesque Ciron is famous for its influence over the unique microclimate of the region; an important element in producing the delicious sweet wines here.
Third stop: The sky’s the limit.
All aboard a hot air balloon at Château d’Arche for a magical flight above the famous names of the appellation. Back on solid ground, tour Château d’Arche, taste the wine and enjoy dinner. As well as a classified sauternes producer, the château is a country hotel. You can stay overnight here in one of the nine rooms.
First Stop: Step back in Time
After breakfast, and fresh from your night in a chateau, head south to the Royal Castle of Cazeneuve. The Castle dates from the 13th and 17th centuries and once belonged to Henri IV. Learn about its illustrious history from Edward I of England to Louis XIV of France. High up on the restored battlements, enjoy the view over the Ciron River and the surrounding countryside and of course taste some of the local wines from the underground cellars.
Second stop: Crystal lunch
Call into Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey where owner Sylvio Denz has created a unique universe of wine and crystal. Visit the cellars, see the crystal barrel, and then dine in the Michelin star restaurant. Here you can discover how the wines of Sauternes and Barsac perfectly compliment the most elegant of menus.
Third stop: Back to the future
Your final visit of the day will be Château Haut-Bailly, Cru Classé in Pessac-Léognan. As well as the beautiful property you will visit the brand new cellars created by architect Daniel Romeo. This cellar was designed to perfectly integrate with the natural environment and is carbon efficient, thanks to its planted roof. The unparalleled views over the vines, show how the vineyards remain at the very heart of the wine making. After the visit, enjoy your last Graves tasting of the day
Don’t want to leave yet? You can stay on at the sister Chateau le Pape, just a stone’s through away. They have five ensuite rooms, a beautiful pool and deck where you can enjoy the last hours of your Graves, Sauternes and Barsac weekend, glass in hand.
Cover photo credits: Château Lafaurie Peyraguey