Chateau Cordeillan Bages, Pauillac

We stayed two nights here in August 2021. The hotel offers the level of comfort, service and indeed price, that one expects from Relais & Chateaux hotels.

The only drawback with that is that bedrooms are a bit too "standardised" for my taste, and you do not get the feeling that you are staying in a chateau. But more the feeling of staying in just another modern luxury hotel

Covid has meant that their restaurant is closed and you have to walk to their "Cafe" in the village, a walk of about 500 metres. This is not taxing, but as the days get colder, the walk will be less pleasant

The reception staff were very good at arranging 3 tastings for us - certainly to vineyards that I would have found difficult to get to myself.

We enjoyed their buffet breakfast sitting overlooking the vines. However the staff levels/training was not sufficient, so I had to wander off and find staff to get to order coffee.

Overall a good experience, in a good hotel, in the very centre of French wines

 

Cafe Lavinal

We visited this cafe some 5 years ago , but it has gone downhill since then.

It is owned by the local hotel Cordeillan Bages, where we were staying. The hotel's restaurant is closed because of Covid apparently, though that in itself is not a reason to stop serving dinner. Anyway it was a pleasant 500 metre stroll to get to Cafe Lavinal

We had two dinners here, the first was fine, but the second terrible.

The place is clearly understaffed, and has a lot of staff under training. But again, at these prices that is not an excuse. For example we were not offered bread, and when I told the waiter, he launched an attack, blaming me for not asking for it - there were no waiters to ask because of their staff shortage

It carried on in this sort of agressive way, interspersed with just plonking plates down without a word

We gave up after the main course, and in spite of not having a sweet or coffee, still had a hefty bill

My judgement is that this is mass tourism at its worst. Untrained staff serving fast food at high prices.

 

Château Lafon-Rochet

Château Lafon-Rochet is a family-owned estate. The Médoc is a long land inlet, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gironde estuary. The diverse composition of its gravel, the excellent natural drainage and the more recently deposited clay, bless Lafon-Rochet with the elements that make its terroir so unique.

Les Pèlerins de Lafon-Rochet, the second wine of the property, is an easy and more affordable wine. Coming from the youngest vines, it is drunk faster, it is useless to wait decades before tasting it. Fresh and simple, he nevertheless enjoys the same care as his elder....

The estate's great wine comes from the oldest vines. Château Lafon-Rochet is a wine that is both simple and complex, it expresses aromas of black fruits in the majority of vintages, there is really a fade and a particular expression of Saint-Estèphe, a certain warmth and roundness while finesse from the Merlot grape variety.

From Decanter

Château Lafon-Rochet’s Basile Tesseron drives a Volvo hybrid and a classic Fiat 500. He is more often seen in jeans than a tailored suit, necessary as he regularly works in his vineyards alongside the rest of his team. The 2016 vintage will be the first one where he has farmed 100% organically, but he is more interested in working out what system is best for a sustainable future than chasing media acclaim for it. Oh, and he was the first in Bordeaux to set up a partnership with Google Streetview allowing virtual visits of the winery and cellars...

Michel started its revolution, both symbolically as well as practically, by painting the exterior walls a startling canary yellow, then changing its label and capsule to match. But even when his son joined him in 2006, aged 27, the estate was still very much in the shadow of Pontet Canet – despite being barely half a mile from its vines, and sandwiched directly between Cos d’Estournel and Lafite Rothschild. Since then, Lafon-Rochet has slowly but surely become one of the most exciting estates in the Médoc, borrowing some of the holistic, artisan philosophy of Pontet Canet in terms of biodynamic and organic practices and harnessing the enthusiasm of young team that includes, besides Tesseron, Anaïs Maillet as vineyard manager and biodiversity expert and technical director Lucas Leclerq. And it’s with the three of them that I am walking through the vines mid way through the 2016 harvest, a few days before the last of the merlots reach the cellar and the picking of the cabernets gets underway.

Chateau Pedesclaux

The 49-hectare, Left Bank vineyard of Chateau Pedesclaux is planted to 59% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. This represents a continuing increase in Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyards. Over time, it is the goal of the estate to continue increasing the portion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the vineyards and remove more of their Merlot vines. The terroir of Chateau Pedesclaux is gravel over a clay subsoil. You can look at the vineyards of Chateau Pedesclaux easily if you divide them into 3 main parts. Some of their best parcels are on the slopes close to the chateau. They also have vines due south and west, both of which are next to Chateau dArmailhac, and another parcel placed not far from Chateau Lynch Bages.

Chateau Pedesclaux was created by its namesake, Pierre Urbain Pedesclaux in 1810 when he purchased vineyard land from another Pauillac estate, Grand Puy. The Pedesclaux family were already established in Bordeaux as Negociants when they added winemakers to their resume. It passed through a number of hands to reach the cuttent owners, the Lorenzetti family

Since 2009, the people shaping Château Pédesclaux’s regeneration have made a series of crucial decisions in both the vineyard and in the winery. The vineyards have been restructured and important new plots acquired, and the land is now worked using environmentally friendly methods that will soon achieve the official stamp of organic certification. This comprehensive evolution is visible in the unique architecture of both the Château and the winery, which is 100% gravity-fed: a stunning technological accomplishment carefully designed to allow the fullest possible expression of the Pédesclaux terroir.

This is is how the Chateau describes its architecture.In their determination to breathe new life into this Classified Growth, the Lorenzetti family found a natural ally in architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who responded with a pure and unpretentious solution that incorporated the aesthetic of transparency that defines the property. If the 21st century buildings of Pédesclaux represent a work of architecture in their own right, they are also a technological achievement. In the new, gravity-fed winery, Wilmotte has thought of everything that will help to preserve the aromas of the grapes. This is where the essence of the Pédesclaux terroir achieves its fullest expression.

I suppose I found the juxaposition of the glass wings with the original chateau strange, even grating. But whatever one's views, it is certainly striking. And a lot of money has been invested in state of the art computer driven winemaking, which is gravity fed throughout, with the wine lifted in tanks rather than using pumps to circulate it.

 

Chateau Prieure Lachine

Château Prieuré-Lichine is a 4th growth from the 1855 classification. It currently consists of about 77 hectares planted with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 5% Petit verdot. After fermenting in concrete vats, the wine is aged for up to 16 months in 50 percent new oak barrels.

What we know of as Chateau Prieure Lichine today started out as a priory for Benedictine monks. The monks produced wine for dinner and various religious ceremonies. Like many estates during the French Revolution, Prieure Lichine was seized, split up, and sold at auction. In 1789 parts of Prieure Lichine were bought by numerous surrounding Chateaux in the Margaux appellation. Since that time, the vineyard has sold wine under several different names including La Prieure and Prieure-Cantenac

It was acquired in 1999 by the Ballande Groupe,a successful negociant in Bordeaux. After the new owners purchased the estate, they began a serious program of replanting large sections of the vineyards. Chateau Prieure Lichine brought in the team of Stephane Derenoncourt as their consulting oenologist. In late 2013, Chateau Prieure Lichine finished a complete renovation and modernization of their cellars and winemaking facilities, giving them the ability to vinify their wine on a true parcel by parcel basis.

To produce the wine of Chateau Prieure Lichine, whole berry, fermentation takes place in 34 tulip-shaped, concrete tanks that range in size from 80 hectoliters up to 120 hectoliters. Each of the vats are double-skinned. This allows for a parcel by parcel vinification.

 

On to see Victor & Gaynor

Our trip to France 2021