When you find yourself in any European country on a Sunday many things are not open and there isn’t much to do. I booked myself on a wine tour arranged by the tourist office that took me through the wine appellations of Margaux and Pauillac.
On the way to our first visit we stopped for a photo opportunity at Chateau Margaux. This is one of the five, 1st Growths from the 1855 Classification which has always been closed to the public. However, our tour guide informed our group that next year it will be welcoming visitors!!
We continued north to Chateau Lynch-Bages in Pauillac. The name ‘Lynch’ comes from the owner of the Chateau and the word ‘Bages’ refers to its location, a hamlet of Pauillac. Lynch-Bages is a 5th Growth but is considered one of the top Chateau in Bordeaux. After tasting the wines I can see why.
One year ago my partner, Chris and I traveled to Pauillac for two days. I thought it would be more interesting to share that experience in this blog post. We were without a vehicle and were determined to keep it that way. We don’t feel comfortable with manual transmission or the traffic in France.
We rented bikes at a shop, nearby the Bordeaux St. Jean train station and comfortably loaded them onto our train to Pauillac. As longs as it is not raining, traveling by bike is the best way to see the Chateaux, and work off the extra calories from the french food and wine!! The appellation is located along the wider part of the Gironde estuary, it has a lovely seaside promenade and you can watch cruise ships go by. Other than that it is a very rural area with a quiet village centre. I would recommend the tourist office for local souvenirs and wine purchases.
We biked the rolling hills of Pauillac, first making a stop for a pre-arranged tour at Chateau Pontet-Canet, which is biodynamic using clay amphora for aging wine. Pontet-Canet is another 5th Growth and is considered one of the top wines from Bordeaux.
From Pontet-Canet we biked the country highways to get a glimpse of Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild and Louis Latour. These are the remaining three from the list of 1st Growths in the 1855 Classification. I made sure to taste a grape from a vine at each place – its the closest I will get to tasting anything from a current vintage since these Chateaux are closed to the public, and the wines are extremely expensive!
The following day we had our tour appointment with Chateau Lynch-Bages before taking the train back to Bordeaux. Lynch-Bages has embraced the tourism industry and has renovated their estate and added a beautiful restaurant and bar, a homeware store, butcher and bakery. Our guide took us through their beautiful vinification museum, which was in operation since 1975. It is a large estate with limestone sub soils and beautiful gravel that you can see in the photo below. Their plantings are: 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.
We tasted Lynch-Bages 2011 which was powerful but well integrated. Along side we tasted Ormes de Pez from the St. Estephe Chateau which they alsoown. It was not as intense, but approachable to drink in the next year or two.