The right bank of Bordeaux, the strangers that become friends, the wines, the vineyards, the experiences and so much more to talk about!
Where do I even start!? This trip was seriously amazing in every way and I am ready to plan another trip back!
We took a flight from Paris which was only an hour. (But we then learned there is a train from Paris which is cheaper and while the train ride is longer than the flight you will save significant time taking the train with all of the airport hassle!)
First things first, THE PEOPLE! Seriously, the people are what make me want to keep coming back EVERY year! The first question I got when I came back to the US was..."Were the French nice to you?" They were more than nice; they were accommodating, passionate, willing to suggest experiences and places to eat, and explain things when I asked dumb questions. We met someone at a winery who invited us to a tasting event and dinner in downtown Bordeaux - and it was such a fun time! Bordeaux is a place where strangers become friends. I was even able to meet up with a friend for breakfast in St. Emilion who I met a few months prior at a tasting event in San Francisco!
So for those of you that are not super familiar with the region of Bordeaux I will break it down for you simply. All of the wines in the region are made up primary of a blend of wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec). The region is broken into two main sections, the left bank and the right bank. The right bank blends are made mostly of Merlot, where as the left bank is made up primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Of all of the places I've visited in the right bank, the wines are both VERY simple to purchase and reasonably priced.
Right Bank Visit
Chateau Tour St. Christophe:
I was so honored and excited to be able to stay at Chateaux Tour St Christophe because I am fan of the wine and the property! They are located right outside of St. Emilion (quick 5 min drive to downtown). Vignobles K is the brand that owns Chateau Tour St Christophe as well as four other brands that are all great! The Vignobles K Group, a family company, was only created back in 2014. It consists of five properties sitting on the best terroirs in 3 prestigious appellations of Bordeaux.
One of the things that I first loved about this winery was the staff. The staff can definitely make or break your experience somewhere and the staff here are so nice, personable, accommodating, answer all of your questions, and willing to spend the time with you!
The wine. I have so much to say about the wine. The first thing that caught my attention about this wine is how complex yet approachable it is. Also, it is AFFORDABLE! The wine is affordable for a few reasons. French wine is generally cheaper than US wine in general, just as simple as that (one of the great things about French wine). And secondly, not all of their wines are (yet) St. Emilion classified. St. Emilion has their classification ranking every 10 years since 1955. And not all of the wines that Vignobles K own have been classified, and the next classification will release sometime in 2022. When a wine becomes part of the St. Emilion classification you will see it called a Grand Cru, Grand Cru Classe A, etc. I am betting that Vignobles K has at least a couple more wines that make St Emilion classification the next round, and if that happens the price of some of the wines may increase.
Outside of tasting the wines from the 4 labels I was able to take part of a wine blending workshop with the winemaker! This was such a FUN experience. The winemaker brought in eight wines to try from eight different lots. There were merlots, cabernet, and cab francs to try for this blending workshop. I was able to choose four of the eight wines to blend with the criteria that they needed to be bright and feminine. So I proceeded with selecting five, and of that the winemaker selected four to make my blend. I must say it was GREAT, but I may be a little biased! One of my all time favorites from Vignobles K is the 2005 Haut-Brisson, I have had my friends and family try it on three occasions and they love it! Now for one of my FAVORITE things about this company! THEY HAVE A WINE CLUB! WHAT!
Which is pretty unheard of in Bordeaux. What I love about this is it makes it easy for me to get four different Bordeaux labels shipped directly to me...and like I said AFFORDABLE! I just got my parents a wine club membership for Christmas and they are RAVING about it. It comes with cards on each of the wines and recipe pairings for each wine in your shipment, SO COOL! The apartment they have at the Chateau is incredible and guests are able to stay at the property by booking well in advance!
Chateau Le Puy:
This a Bordeaux hidden jem for sure! This winery has been owned by the same family for over 400 years and the have been practicing biodynamic farming for that long as well! If you don't know what biodynamic farming is check out this link to learn about it! I was able to see the old plows they use in farming which was incredible, it is all very old but well maintained. They use horses to plow the vineyards versus tractors.
I could go on about their biodynamic practices because they are truly incredible and Le Puy is setting the tone for many wineries to start practicing biodynamic farming. Le Puy takes pride in never using any chemicals EVER (like for over 400 years ever) in their vineyards or in their wines. Their view is that if you practice biodynamic farming in your vineyard there is simply no need for all these additives that you find in so many of the wines that are sold on the shelves today. The estate is located at one of the highest spots of Francs Côtes de Bordeaux. I can personally say from tasting so many of their wines that the soil and terroir really shows through in the wine. Also, with out the chemical usage, the headaches are NON existent after drinking this, so it means you can drink more right? YEP :) The taste is so unique and has a totally different flavor than anything I have ever tried. I also had the honor of attending the 90 Year tasting Le Puy hosted in San Francisco, and it was an experience of a life time! We tasted the wines back from 1926, which were still so alive and showing great! Such an experience to see how these wines have evolved over time and how well they keep for being biodynamic as well!
Do yourself a favor and go find any bottle of Le Puy, I promise you wont be disappointed! (Here is link to purchase if you have trouble finding a bottle!)
This property is located just a short drive south west of Saint-Emilion. In the 19th century, Trianon was a country retreat belonging to the Andrieu and Lecointre families surrounded by meadows and vines. Until 1952, only 4 hectares (not quite 10 acres) of vines were used to make wine. This was subsequently increased to 6.5 hectares (16 acres). The wine produced from this plot was already described in several wine guides at the time. In 2000 the property was sold to Dominique Hébrard who was on the look-out for a winegrowing property in Saint-Emilion with potential that he could develop.
Trianon was the perfect fit and for the past 17 years he has poured passion into his Trianon project to make it what it is today. At Trianon, each vineyard block is allocated a special fermentation tank with unique specifications for that block.
Today the property is now co-owned by Dominique and FIB. They are working on an amazing project on the property to open a top hotel in the region. The property will be open in a few short years and by the sounds is going to be INCREDIBLE! We tasted the 2015 vintage of Trianon which is 80% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 5% cabernet sauvignon and 5% carmenere.
This is an amazing fullbodied and subtle tanin Bordeaux that I loved! I would highly recommend getting your hands on a couple bottles of this wine! Like a lot of others from this region, they are priced very reasonably and will be a wine to impress your guests (or keep to yourself)! :) And lastly the people here are incredible. We met with the head of Marketing and we were also able to meet Dominique. They were both so very nice and more than accommodating to us and again willing to help us in any way needed.
We finished our Right Bank visits off with Chateau Peyfaures (which was right on the way to downtown Bordeaux from St. Emilion). And I have to first say, because I don't think I have said it yet...but one of my favorite things about Bordeaux is the passion that is behind every winery we visited. Whether that passion stems from generations of the winery being in a family or someone who is so passionate about wine they give a winery a new start and build it to be even more amazing. The latter is what the new owners of Chateau Peyfaures are investing their time and passion in to.
The winery was in the family for over 7 generations when it went for sale and the Moraes family purchased it. But the AMAZING part about that is after seven generations cared for the estate, with last in the line, Laurent Godeau; Laurent decided to stay on with the Moraes family and continue as winemaker for Chateau Peyfaures. Together they continue to carry on the traditions of the family while continuing to raise the quality with every vintage. Laurent took us through the property, vineyards, winery, barrel tasting, and tasting room for the ENTIRE Peyfaures experience.
We had such a great time with Laurent, not only was he an incredible host but also an INCREDIBLE wine maker. This is not only Laurent's job but also his passion.
He knows the terroir through and through and that really showcases in the wine. Also, this wine is available for purchase in the US (which is awesome)! They have three different wines at three price points, which is amazing because everyone can purchase this wine depending on your personal preference! I'LL TAKE ALL THREE PLEASE :)
All in all, I would go back and do it the EXACT SAME AGAIN! I love the people in this region and I cannot wait to tell y'all about my left bank experience as well! Stay tuned my winos!