For the past three years, I have been working as a wine guide in Bordeaux taking wine lovers to hundreds of wineries in the region.
Which Bordeaux chateaux are the best to visit?
Since there are about 10,000 wine estates around Bordeaux, this might be a tough decision.
First, decide which wines of Bordeaux you want to taste the most. If you prefer a certain style of wine, like bold Cabernet Sauvignons, and you don’t want to experiment with sweet whites, you should choose a destination on the Left Bank.
Blends in the Medoc on the Left Bank are dominated by powerful Cabernet Sauvignon. The Right Bank chateaux, in Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Cotes de Bordeaux, mainly produce softer and elegant Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines.
Bordeaux produces mainly red wines. Perhaps, you prefer whites? Consider the Pessac-Leognan region in this case. This region produces outstanding reds and stunning whites.
Second, are you interested in visiting large prestigious chateaux with impressive tasting rooms, or would you rather choose small family wineries where you can get to talk to a winemaker and see real day-to-day life at a French vineyard?
Third, are you looking for beautiful landscapes and history walks, or mostly want to taste and buy wines?
Take a look at a few of my favorite wineries that offer memorable experiences and of course, make great wines. Of course, there are many more great wineries to visit in Bordeaux, but hopefully, this overview will give you a better idea of where to look.
If you are just exploring and looking to have a fun day tasting wines, just rely on your guide to take you to the best places.
1. Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Martillac
This Grand Cru Classe chateau in the Pessac-Leognan appellation is astonishingly beautiful.
The winery has been restored completely by owners Florence and Daniel Cathiard, the former ski champions, who acquired the chateau in 1990.
Today, at the chateau besides highly regarded red and white wines, you will find a luxury hotel and a spa, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a wine bar, all surrounded by vineyards, forests, and manicured lawns, and open-air art exhibits.
The chateau is located relatively close to Bordeaux, only about a 30-minute drive from the city center.
Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte extends a warm welcome to visitors. It is open 7 days a week. One of the tasting packages includes samples of Chateau Beauregard, the sister chateau in Pomerol.
2. Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac
The chateau is at the top of the Bordeaux hierarchy. It is one of the five Bordeaux first growth wineries according to the 1855 Bordeaux Classification. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson visited the present-day Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and allegedly bought three bottles there.
Located in Pauillac, the chateau is owned and managed by the Rothschild family since 1853, when it was first acquired by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild.
Today, the wines of the chateau are some of the top-ranked wines in the whole of France and one of the most expensive wines in Bordeaux.
During the 2.5 hours visit of the chateau, besides touring the impressive winemaking facilities of the chateau and a tasting, you will be shown Baron Philippe de Rothschild’s collection of wine-themed art pieces, and the original paintings and art objects that have been displayed on the labels of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
Make sure you make an appointment with the chateau a few months before your visit or ask your wine tour guide to book a visit for you.
How to Visit Chateau Mouton Rothschild?
3. Chateau Beauregard, Pomerol
Chateau Beauregard is a neighbor of the iconic Petrus and Chateau Le Pin producing the most expensive wines of Bordeaux.
The chateau has recently undergone renovation. Fermentation takes place in the most impressive state-of-the-art vat room in the whole of Bordeaux. Organic wine growing methods are being practiced here.
If you would like to taste excellent Merlots, there isn’t a better place than Pomerol.
4. Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Sauternes
This chateau is an absolute gem of Sauternes, an area where unique legendary sweet wines are made. Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey was classified as the First Growth in 1855, just one level down from the only Superior First Growth Chateau D’Yquem, the legend of Sauternes.
Even if you are not loving sweet wines, this chateau is worth a visit. You will enjoy the picturesque landscapes of Sauternes, the architecture of the chateau, the high cuisine at the new gastronomic restaurant, and see the unique process of sweet winemaking.
The chateau owner, Mr. Silvio Denz, also acquired the Lalique crystal works. The chateau boutique has some very interesting crystal pieces for sale. It is possible to drop in just for a tasting and look around. Why not stay at the gem of Bordeaux hospitality Hotel Lalique?
Where to Stay in Sauternes Wine Country?
5. Chateau Villemaurine, Saint-Emilion
I like to suggest this chateau because it offers the unique experience of visiting underground cellars, which used to be limestone quarries for over 800 years.
The chateau offers an immersion into the history of Saint-Emilion. Kids love it, but be ready to walk in the dark underground.
I recommend selecting the “Privilege Tour”, an extended wine tasting experience. You must taste these excellent examples of Merlot wines grown on limestone soils, made by the team of Chateau Villemaurine, and beautifully served on a terrace with views of Saint-Emilion.
6. Chateau Tour Saint-Christophe, Saint-Emilion
Why I love this chateau? Their hospitality is amazing, I must say, one of the best in Bordeaux. The experience is always in a private group and with a very engaging guide.
You get to taste several wines by Group Vignobles K, which owns several wineries on the Right Bank in a tasting room overlooking the hills of Saint-Emilion.
The winery experiments with new fermentation method, when grape juice ferments directly in a new oak barrel.
Great experience and great value for money on their wines. My favorite wine to taste is 2009 Chateau Bellefont-Belcier, a sister Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe chateau, owned by the same family.
7. Chateau Mangot, Saint-Emilion
Innovative winemaking approach meets tradition at this family-owned winery in Saint-Emilion.
I discovered it by chance when looking where my clients can taste white and rose wine, which was quite a challenge. The chateau is in the tranquil eastern corner of Saint-Emilion with very little tourism and traffic. The valley and the hill views are just breathtaking there.
The young generation of the Todeschini family has an appealing philosophy of creativity, making wines for people, and a sustainable approach to winemaking.
A surprising chance to taste unusual white wine M de Mangot with an overpowering aroma of pears made of Chardonnay, Colombard, and Roussanne. There are also rose wines. In my opinion, the star of the show is the red wine called Todeschini Chateau Mangot.
Excellent wines! Great tasting experience and hospitality.
8. Chateau Grangey, Saint-Emilion
A tiny, but high-tech cellar is owned by Franck and Elodie Mio, a young family who turned into wine relatively recently.
The wines are primarily Merlot-based with some Malbec in the blend.
Taste their 2015 first label Chateau Grangey. 2015 was an exceptional year in Bordeaux. Chateau Grangey made a wonderful full-bodied wine, with red and black fruit aromas, great acidity, and high fruit concentration. I buy a bottle every time I am in the area.
Just an amazing example of Saint-Emilion wine at this small family-owned Grand Cru property.
9. Chateau Hourtin-Ducasse, Haut-Medoc
Want a break from prestige and luxury?
Rural charm and authenticity can be found at this family-owned winery. Sample 5 different grape varieties from barrels and follow by the final blend of the five.
The owner treats you to an apero in the cellar with local products to accompany the Medoc reds, rose, and even a gin. Wonderful wine-tasting experience for amateurs and wine professionals alike.
The winery is very visitor-friendly. They are open every day of the week.
I got the 2016 vintage recently as a gift and couldn’t keep it too long. What a treat!
10. Chateau Pichon-Baron, Pauillac
Last but not least… Constructed in 1851, this chateaux must be one of the most impressive castles in Bordeaux. Unfortunately, during the tour, you don’t get to go inside the castle, but just the picture opportunity alone is worth coming or at least stopping by.
However, it’s not just about the castle. The winery is the 2nd Growth under the 1855 classification. Chateau Pichon-Baron vineyards are located on a hill with exceptional soils and unique terroir, ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.
Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the classic expression of Pauillac wines, powerful yet balanced. If possible, taste the 2009 and the 2010 vintages – I am sure that your personal top favorite wines list will change right there.
If you want to visit these and my other “secret chateaux” contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and review information on more Bordeaux winery visits here.
See you in Bordeaux!
For suggestions of the best stays in Saint-Emilion, Medoc and Bordeaux see my articles below:
Where to Stay in Bordeaux Wine Country – the Right Bank?