Outstanding châteaux in Bordeaux’s vineyards

Before preparing a tour of Bordeaux’s vineyards, you might ask the classic question: "Where are the most beautiful châteaux?" This article should give you a few ideas, for there can be no doubt that Bordeaux’s “Routes du Vin” are lined with magnificent wine properties that are well worth a detour.

The architects that designed these properties were not lacking in imagination, indeed some of them have been classified as Historic Monuments. Medieval, Renaissance, Gothic, classical, contemporary… there are châteaux in all styles and from all periods. These temples dedicated to the glory of wine, are the product of the genius of generations of architects, whose reputations are now immortalized.

Cos d’Estournel, Médoc

The Maharadjah of Saint-Estèphe

A monumental seventeenth century gateway from Zanzibar, complete with pagodas and exotic decorations… looking for an unusual château? Look no further! Cos d’Estournel is the one for you. This Saint-Estèphe 1855 Grand Cru Classé is a real palace, reminiscent of the Far East, built in the nineteenth century by Louis-Gaspard d'Estournel. This illustrious character was the first Bordeaux winemaker to export their wines to India, back in 1838. This trade was to result in a passion for all things Eastern, which eventually became a part of the property’s identity.

And the tour?

Tours by appointment. More details

Cos d’Estournel architecture (1)  
Cos d’Estournel architecture (2)  
Château Pédesclaux  

Château Pédesclaux, Médoc

Modern architecture in the service of the terroir

Recipient of the “Best of 2018" award in the "Architecture & Landscape” category, this Pauillac 1855 Grand Cru Classé has been given a new look thanks to architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. With two large glass sections on either side, the eighteenth century charterhouse stands proudly in the middle of its vineyard. These incredible transparent structures are made of untreated modern materials, such as glass, concrete, aluminium, and American walnut wood. Exquisitely constructed, the 2,000 m2 vat room is a technological masterpiece that almost seems to put the vinification process on a stage.

And the tour?

Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 6pm, by appointment. Open on Saturdays by appointment from March to October. More details

Château de Malle, Graves and Sauternes

The extravagant residence of the President of the Parliament of Bordeaux

Built in the seventeenth century by Jacques de Malle, and classified as an historical monument, this château is an architectural masterpiece that is worth a detour. Renaissance and classical façades are surrounded by a 5 hectare Florentine park, embellished with statues and an open-air theatre. The inside of the château is extraordinarily well preserved. Billiards room, large drawing room, bedrooms, a chapel… explore the entire château, which played a key role in the history of the family of the Counts of Bournazel.

And the tour?

By appointment: Monday to Friday from 2pm to 5pm. No appointment is required for the tours in August. Closed on weekends and public holidays. More details

Château de Malle  

Château La Louvière, Graves and Sauternes

The little "White House" of Pessac-Léognan

Seven centuries of history are reflected in this beautiful residence that has been classified as an historical monument. Owned by Carthusian monks in the 17th century, it was bought after the French Revolution by one of the most powerful merchants in Bordeaux: Jean-Baptiste Mareilhac. To indulge his wife, he asked a renowned architect, François Lhôte, to build him a beautiful mansion in the neo-classical style. In 1945, the property was purchased by another wine merchant and wine producer, André Lurton, who has devoted himself to restoring it to its former glory.

And the tour?

Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm and from 2pm to 6pm (5pm on Fridays), by appointment at least a day in advance. Closed on public holidays. More details

Château La Louvière  

Château Les Carmes Haut Brion, Bordeaux

Philippe Starck’s masterpiece

The only vineyard inside Bordeaux’s urban area, Château Les Carmes Haut Brion is a compulsory stop for fans of modern architecture. Like a metal blade pressed into the earth, the château’s extraordinary winery was designed by Philippe Starck. Surrounded by water and ancient trees, it is shaped like an inverted ship, buried in the soil to make room for an ultra-modern cellar enabling the production of excellent wines.

And the tour?

Guided tour by appointment only. More details

Château Les Carmes Haut Brion  

Château Sainte Barbe, Bordeaux

The queen of the Bordeaux charterhouses

The Bordeaux metropolis has a great many charterhouse-style residences that were built between the 17th and 19th centuries. But if there is one that has retained its authentic charm, it is Château Sainte Barbe. Standing proudly beside the Garonne river in the middle of a 30 hectare vineyard, this charterhouse was built by one of Bordeaux’s most famous architects, Victor Louis (who was also the architect of Bordeaux’s Grand Theatre), for the town’s mayor under Napoleon I: Jean-Baptiste Lynch.

And the tour?

Open all year by appointment (except on weekends). More details

Château Sainte Barbe  

Château de Pressac, Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac

The Château that marked the end of the Hundred Years War.

Renovated in the 19th century, this Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé looks out proudly over an ocean of vineyards planted on terraces. The owner will accompany you as you explore this property that is steeped in history: it was here that the English surrendered following their defeat at the Battle of Castillon. Another interesting fact: it was in this vineyard that a variety from Quercy baptised "Noir de Pressac" was first planted in the eighteenth century, known today as Malbec.

And the tour?

Visit by appointment from 10am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm in low season and from 10am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 6pm in high season. Reservations online

Château de Pressac architecture  

Château La Dominique, Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac

Avant-garde design by the famous Jean Nouvel

Keep scanning the landscape for modern architecture, and you will notice Château La Dominique from afar. Built by Jean Nouvel, it is recognizable by its shimmering red steel façades. Here the colour of the wine is everywhere, from the panoramic restaurant to the walls of the château. From its terrace, you can admire another masterpiece of contemporary architecture: Château Cheval Blanc’s winery, a remarkable “wave” of concrete designed by Christian de Portzamparc.

And the tour?

From April to October, open every day, 10am to 7pm, and then from November to March, Tuesday to Saturday, from 10am to 6pm. Tours by appointment. More details

Château La Dominique architecture  
Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours architecture  

Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours, Blaye and Bourg

An 18th century biodynamic château

To take a tour of Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours is to be immersed in a human story, in the company of the Hubert family, who present visitors with the extraordinary achievements of six generations of winegrowers. They live in the old château that includes a 17th century tower, which you can go up for a panoramic view of the Gironde estuary. The property uses biodynamic growing methods, which are also explained during the tour.

And the tour?

Monday to Friday from 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm. By appointment at weekends and for groups. More details

Château des Arras, Blaye and Bourg

A former military fortress that became a vineyard

A family-run property for four generations, Château des Arras has not always had a vineyard: in the fifteenth century it was a military base. The château’s current architecture dates from the eighteenth century. Instead of a drawbridge, there is now an elegant double staircase! Since 2013, the 30 hectare vineyard has been managed by two sisters who have combined their winegrowing expertise with preserving the property’s authentic style - with dazzling results.

And the tour?

Tour and tasting all year round, no appointment required Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday by appointment. More details

Château des Arras architecture  

Château du Grand Mouëys, Entre-Deux-Mers

A vineyard of legends and mysteries

This wooded 170 hectare property has an 80 hectare vineyard spread over three hills, an English-style park and a magnificent neo-Gothic style residence: Château du Grand Mouëys essentially has everything you could want in a wine property. A Gallo-Roman villa in the first century, then a stage on the Santiago de Compostela route in the 11th century, this château is perfect for lovers of wine and history. It is even said that when the property belonged to the Knights Templar, they hid a fabulous treasure somewhere. But no one knows where…

And the tour?

Guided tour by appointment only. More details

Château du Grand Mouëys architecture  

Château Le Grand Verdus, Entre-Deux-Mers

The former residence of Napoleon’s architect

A well-established wine property, classified as an historical monument, Château Le Grand Verdus boasts magnificent 16th century Renaissance architecture. Currently owned by the Grix de la Salle family, it was once the residence of Claude Deschamps, the architect of Bordeaux’s Pont de Pierre and of Libourne under Napoleon. From its courtyard to its winery, Château Le Grand Verdus is full of surprises with its rich 400 year history.

And the tour?

Le Grand Verdus welcomes visitors by appointment from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm, for tours and tastings. More details

Château Le Grand Verdus architecture