Bordeaux Wine Routes
Bordeaux’s reputation as a fine wine region has been well-established for many years; in fact, most people first get to hear about the city of Bordeaux because of the renown of its wines. The famous Classified Growth rankings of its top châteaux largely add to this prestige. However, the fine reputation of these wines could not continue to exist without the tireless efforts of the châteaux themselves.
With over 100,000 hectares (270,000 acres) of vines, Bordeaux is the largest vineyard in France producing appellation wines. In order to discover the rich diversity of its terroir and the many different appellations, several tourist trails known as “Les Routes des Vins de Bordeaux” have been developed. Along each of them, you can admire and visit the large number of châteaux that make up the route. 3 highly-recommended Bordeaux Wine Routes are featured below:
The Médoc Wine Route
The Médoc route comprising the so-called “route des châteaux” is undoubtedly the most famous of them all. From Bordeaux city to the Gironde estuary, the mythical D2 by-road takes you along an 80km route where you can discover some of the most prestigious châteaux in Bordeaux. This road crosses 8 very well-known appellations: Médoc and Haut-Médoc are regional appellations, while Listrac, Margaux, Moulis-en-Médoc, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Saint-Estèphe are communal appellations. Don’t miss Château La Tour Carnet, a real medieval château and one of the oldest in the Médoc. Tours and tastings are offered as well as a variety of workshops.
The Graves and Sauternes Wine Route
Located on Bordeaux’s left bank, the Graves and Sauternes Wine Route begins at the south-west edge of Bordeaux city in the Graves vineyard. The latter takes its name from its gravel soil (graves means gravel). Within this area you find the Graves appellation of course, together with Graves Supérieures (a semi-sweet white wine) and Pessac-Léognan, the whole of which is included in the Graves Classified Growth classification. Make sure you go and visit the magnificent Château Pape Clément estate, where you can even be a vigneron for a day, by attending a workshop in which you create your own wine. Don’t forget to visit the legendary Château Haut-Brion too.
Continue heading south towards the Sauternes vineyards where the famous sweet white wines are produced. 3 appellations are found here: Sauternes, Barsac and Cérons. You should naturally visit Château Yquem, the most famous Sauternes and the only Premier Cru Supérieur. Opposite Yquem, nestling on the highest point of the plateau of the Bommes commune is the Sauternes growth Clos Haut Peyraguey, Premier Grand Cru Classé.
This Graves and Sauternes Wine Route covers a wide diversity of wine estates, in which Grand Cru Classé estates mingle with small family-run vineyards and where red wines as well as dry, semi-sweet and sweet wines are also produced.
The Saint-Emilion Wine Route
Visitors are naturally attracted to Saint-Emilion because of the fine reputation of its wines, but they also come here to admire its charming medieval village and heritage sites. Listed as UNESCO World Heritage, Saint-Emilion’s 5,000-hectare vineyard has been qualified as “a remarkable example of a historic vine-growing landscape that has survived intact”.
Located on the right bank of Bordeaux, close to Libourne, the region boasts an outstanding variety of châteaux, ranging from tiny estates to Grands Crus Classés with impressive buildings. Château Fombrauge is a perfect example. This Grand Cru Classé château offers visitors a warm welcome in a unique setting featuring French-style gardens. Fascinating trails across the vineyards can be enjoyed as well as walks in which a picnic lunch can be organised.
The Saint-Emilion Wine Route could easily be adapted and renamed “The Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac and others Wine Route”. Since, close to Saint-Emilion, in the Libourne area, several other appellations are also found, some of them quite famous ones too: Pomerol, Lalande de Pomerol, Fronsac, Canon-Fronsac, as well as Saint Emilion satellite appellations like Montagne-Saint-Emilion, Lussac-Saint-Emilion and Saint-Georges-Saint-Emilion.