France is famous for its beautiful chateaux (in French the plural in this case is 'chateaux' rather than 'chateaus') – the French word ‘Chateau’ means ‘castle’ – and many of them in the Bordeaux region have vineyards that offer wine tasting and tours. There are many chateaux within easy driving distance from the location of Les Hiboux. If you are looking for something quintessentially French to do on your holiday, a visit to a French chateau with a wine tasting tour is a must.
Chateaux with Vineyards and Wine Tasting
Château des Valois – Cognac (60km)
Chateaux de Cognac 16100 Cognac +33 (0)5 45 36 88 88 www.baronotard.com
Known as the Château des Valois or the Château François, the chateau at Cognac has existed since the tenth century, however it has been rebuilt many times. It was first built in 950 AD as a military defense, but nothing of this first building survives. In 1200 the chateau was rebuilt in the same place. In the 12th century the chateau passed to Richard I (Richard the Lion Heart) through marriage, and between 1366 and 1370 it was the main residence of Edward, Prince of Aquitaine and Wales, known as the "Black Prince" who was the son of King Edward III of England. After the Hundred Years war the chateau was in ruins and the Valois family began reconstruction began in 1450, but again in the 17th and 18th centuries the chateau was left to decay until a winery was installed in 1795. Although the installation of the winery further destroyed some of the remains, the company also undertook important restorative work.
The chateaux produces Cognac (of course!) and is open every day (10am-12pm and 2pm-6pm) for one hour tours and Cognac tasting. The prices are as follows:
Adults (Over 18 years old) - €10
Children 12-18 years - €4.50
Children under 12 years – free
Château d'Agassac - Ludon-Médoc (85km) *** Offers activities specially for children
This picturesque 13th century chateau is one of the oldest and most beautiful properties in Médoc. Guided tours ending with winetasting are available without appointment seven days a week in July and August, and from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10.30-18.30 in May and September. The rest of the year tours and winetasting are available on appointment from Monday to Friday, 9.30-12.30, 13.30-18.00. The guided tours are one hour 30 minutes long and cost €7 per person for adults, €5 for students and are free for children up to 12. The chateau is unique in that it has recently introduced self-guided tours with iPads as a visual and audio guide, and an iPad tour especially designed for children is available. During the tour you can discover the history and wines of the property by answering questions on the iPad throughout the tour; the junior version includes a treasure hunt and rescuing a princess from the castle. This tour only costs €5 for adults and €2 for children. These are available without appointment at any time. Tasting of Grand Cru chocolates is also offered.
Chateau Bellevue Gazin – Near to Blaye, Bordeaux (65km)
Route de Montuzet, Bellevue, 33390 Plassac +33 (0)5 57 42 02 00 www.chateau-bellevue-gazin.fr
The chateau is in the village of Plessac near Blaye. It is owned by Parisians Anne-Sophie and Alain Lancereau, who bought the property in 2003 and completely renovated it. They organise wine tastings combined with visits to the local Roman remains. The chateaux is open all year round seven days a week.
Chateau Carbonneau - Sainte-Foy-la-Grande Foy, Bordeaux (80km)
The chateau was recently awarded International Best of Wine Tourism prize. The current owners are the third generation of New Zealand owners (although the husband is French), and they produce a 100% sauvignon blanc, making it a little corner of New Zealand in France. The 100-hectare estate is a working farm, with cattle, forest and some beautiful Bernese mountain dogs. The chateau is open all year round seven days a week (call ahead for wine tasting from November to February).
Chateau Pape Clement - Pessac, Bordeaux (90km)
216 Avenue de Dr Nancel Pénard, 33600 Pessac +33 (0)5 57 26 38 38 www.bernard-magrez.com
The chateau has the oldest planted vineyard in the region, dating from 1300 when it was presented to Bertrand de Goth upon his appointment as archbishop of Bordeaux. It received its name from Bertrand's papal name, Clement V, and in his honor, there is a recreated ‘chapel’ below the château, complete with crypt, marble sarcophagus and piped organ music. There is a very chic wine shop and tours around the property. Pape Clement has won Best of Wine Tourism awards for its parks and gardens, and in summer these are excellent to walk around. It is €9 for a ‘connoisseur visit’ lasting 1.5 hours, including tasting. It is open seven days a week year round, by appointment. Groups up to 25. Guided tours at 10.30, 11.30, 14.30, 16.30. Sunday at 10.30.
Château Fonplegade - Saint Emilion (55km)
Situated on the south hillside of Saint-Emilion, the chateau and its 18.5 hectare estate were built in 1852 Jean-Pierre Beylot, and it went on to develop its winegrowing tradition through the decades under some of the great families of Saint Emilion. The vineyard is hand-farmed without the use of chemicals. It is open for tours by appointment seven days a week, all year round. The tours are fairly expensive but are private and customised specifically to the interests of each group of guests. A portfolio tour & tasting is € 30 per person and an enhanced vineyard tour & tasting is € 50 per person.
Château Lanessan – Cussac-Fort-Médoc, Bordeaux (80km)
Château Lanessan dates from the end of the 19th century and has an English neo-classical Tudor-inspired style. The house and stables were the last project in the outstanding career of Bordeaux architect Henri Duphot. The Lanessan vineyard has belonged to a succession of eight generations of the Bouteiller family since the 18th century. In August 2009 Paz Espejo took over the management of Château Lanessan from Hubert Bouteiller. There is a museum housing a collection of about ten horse-drawn carriages dating back to the "Belle Epoque" period at the turn of the 19th century that are exhibited in perfect condition. The estate offers tours, tastings and trips around the gardens in a horse-drawn carriage. It is open daily, all year round from 09.30-12.00 and 14.00-18.00. An appointment is not necessary for a basic visit, but it is preferred. There are options for vertical tasting of old wines and an introduction to the ‘Art of Blending’ (for groups, booked in advance). The cost depends on the type of visit chosen; a basic one hour visit and tasting is €6.
Château Lynch Bages – Pauillac, Bordeaux (90km)
Château Lynch-Bages, 33250, Pauillac +33 (0)5 56 73 24 00 www.lynchbages.com
Chateau Lynch Bages is located in the famous wine growing area of Pauillac, next to the gourmet village of Bages. The chateau often stages art exhibitions, and there is a permanent collection of traditional wine presses and other winemaking equipment in the 19th century vat room. It is open daily by appointment, all year round, from 09.30-12.00 and 14.00-17.00. The price for the tour and tasting of two wines is €6 per person.
Chateau du Taillan – Medoc, Bordeaux (85km)
56 Avenue de la Croix, 33320, Le Taillan Médoc +33 (0) 5 56 57 47 00 www.chateaudutaillan.com
The Chateau du Taillan is a family property and was acquired in 1896 by Henry Cruse; he has since been succeeded by four generations and it is now managed by five sisters. It is rare for the region in that it produces white wines as well as red. The classic eighteenth century chateau, located on the outskirts of Bordeaux and Medoc, is one of the finest properties in the Gironde, and has unique underground cellars that are included in the list of Historical Monuments of France. Various tours are available, from a basic tour to vertical tasting and a VIP visit with cheese platter and charcuterie. You are also able to purchase a picnic to enjoy in the extensive tranquil grounds. A basic tour including the tasting of two wines is €6 per person and runs Monday to Saturday 10am until 6pm (hourly tours run at 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm), no reservation is required but it is preferred especially for bigger groups. To taste more varieties you can make a booking for €25 per person, and vertical tasting is €35 per person. A VIP tour is also €35 per person.
Local Chateaus without Vineyards
Chateau d’Angoulême (Now the town hall) (60km)
The chateau of Angoulême now forms the town hall together with a construction of the 19th century. The first fortress was built on this site at the end of the Roman Empire, the medieval chateau was built in 886 AD and important modifications were undertaken in 1226. The parts of the chateau that have survived from this time include the the polygonal keep, called Tour de Lusignan, the châtelet, and the round Valois Tower. The polygonal keep was built 1282–1302, and the Valois Tower was built in the late 15th century.
Chateau d’Aubeterre-sur-Dronne (30km)
The castle stands on the hill by the Monolithic Church. It originates from the 11th century and was an important stronghold for the Lords of Aubeterre of that period. It was taken and retaken many times during the Hundred Years War, and afterwards passed among members of the Bouchard family for centuries, before much of it was dismantled and sold in 1810. The gate, the house, the Renaissance Chapel and parts of the enclosure remain.
Cheateau de Barbezieux-Sainte-Hilaire (25km)
A chateaux has existed on this site since the eleventh century, but nothing remains from that period. The chateau was rebuilt in 1453 to provide work during the famine at the end of the Hundred Years War. It was sold to the Revolution at the end the 18th century and the south-east gatehouse served as prison until 1820. During the 19th century the chateau at various times housed a theatre, a hospice and a girls’ boarding school. Today it is partly owned by the town and partly privately owned.
Chateau de Chalais (16km)
The chateau, originally built in the eleventh century, dominates the town of Chalais from its rocky outcrop. It was occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War, before being dismantled when it was retaken by the French one month before the Battle of Castillon in 1453; only a square tower of this period remains. It was rebuilt in the sixteenth century and the gatehouse and the façade of the main building remain from this period. The north wing was rebuilt in 1880.
Chateau de Montguyon (17km)
The chateau at Montguyon is situated on a rocky outcropping looking out over the village and the surrounding countryside. The current castle dates from the 11th century and was expanded in 16th century. Throughout its history it has belonged to the well-known Le Rochefoucauld and Rohan families, and King Henri IV and King Louis XIII spent several holidays at the chateau. It is now owned by the council. In 1793 the chateau was largely destroyed by a fire and in 1982 part of the tower collapsed as the result of an earthquake. The stables and the fortress walls are classified as an historic monument.