On the right bank of the Dordogne river, between Fronsac and the Perigord border, magnificent fine wines are to be found in abundance. A country that reveals the other grand appellations from the Bordeaux region: wines such as the AOC Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru together with the AOC Polerol and Lalande-de-Pomerol. Limestone and clay and limestone plateaux, rocks leveling out to mark the Saint-Emilion area of appellation, gravelly hill tops for the Pomerol, the vineyards planted on varied soil give wonderfully complex wines, rich, tannic, and velvety. Fine wines, mostly made up of merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon vine plants enabling subtle mixes for red wines that have a deep, nearly black colour.
The AOC Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac are to be found in the district of Fronsac. The AOC Côtes de Castillon is concentrated around Castillon-la-Bataille. A land of winemakers and small estates where the vineyard, planted with 80% merlot vine plants, produces lively wines with aromas of red fruit and spices. Excellent discoveries!
“Francasius” the Francs’ Castle was erected in Fronsac, a strategic location chosen by the Emperor Charlemagne, overlooking the Dordogne River, in 769. We are at the heart of Fronsac and Canon Fronsac wine country.
Château Richelieu. In 1632, the village of Fronsac and its vineyards were acquired by the house of Richelieu. Today these same vineyards are those of the Château Haut-Brion. Stéphane de Dérenoncourt , a specialist in the wine world, is the consultant for the 14 hectares estate. Visits and tasting sessions during the week upon request. Saturday and Sunday by appointment only. www.chateau-richelieu.com
Château Barrabaque. This very old estate dating from 1747 was taken over and has been run by the Noël family since 1936. The estate is run by Caroline Barroux, a winemaker. Great Bordeaux wines, such as the Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac are produced here from nine hectares of south facing vineyards. The Château’s three 2008 vintages were selected by the Hachette Wine Guide. The Château Barrabaque Prestige blend, matured in new casks, turns out to be very complex, velvety and powerful. www.chateaubarrabaque.fr
Les Trois Croix Castle
The date 1712 is carved into the wine store’s wall, thus proving that the wine making business here dates back to the eighteenth century. Patrick Léon, the owner since 1995, is none other than the mythical winemaker of the Mouton Rothschild and Opus One in California! You soon realise you are in a good establishment. A family home where each and everyone bears the vineyard and locality in their heart. A passion that they like to share, as much as their wine! The wines are made up of a subtle blend of merlot grapes to which 20% cabernet franc is added and the rest is the master’s know how! The mark 87 Parker was awarded to the Château Les Trois Croix 2000 vintage, which is full bodied, superb, perfumed. Visits and tasting sessions upon request. www.chateaulestroiscroix.com
Maison des Vins de Fronsac. Around one hundred fine wines in Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac appellations are available to buy and to taste. Rue du Tertre. Tel.: +33 5 57 51 80 51
Le Bord d’Eau. Overlooking the river, one can enjoy tasting all the lovely fish fresh from the sea. The Chef, Laurent le Comte has come up with a menu of fresh, iodized dishes straight from the Altantic with a touch of Mediterranean flavours. Crab with aïoli, pistachio skate risotto, and light, flavoursome deserts such as caramelized soufflé with gentian and morello cherries, not forgetting some little-known great Bordeaux wines. Route de Libourne. Tel.: +33 5 57 51 99 91
Saint Hippolyte-Sainte Radegonde Church. Roman by origin, dating from the fifteenth century, this church, like so many others, has been altered over the centuries. The elegant eighteenth century gate is prolonged by a façade steeple. “Carpe Diem” is inscribed in the sun dial on the wall.
Saint-Michel de Fronsac
Château Cassagne Haut-Canon. Situated on a hillock, dominating the Dordogne, this pastoral place was, in the eighteenth century, the Duke of Richelieu’s hunting lodge. The oenologist, Jean-Jacques Dubois is the current owner of the château and surrounding vineyards, together with an immense park full of truffle oak trees. The welcome desk and tasting sessions are held in the reception hall around a grand eighteenth century chimney. The Château Cassagne Haut Canon la Truffière is a Fronsac,franc in character with subtle hints of spices. Visits by appointment. www.chateau-cassagne.fr
Château de Carles. The origins of the château go back to the conquest of Aquitaine by the son of Pepin the Short, Charles Ist, later to become Emperor Charlemagne. A stronghold, the castle has kept some of its medieval character.
Château Haut Carles. Two round towers, one square tower with machicolation, a watch path and a Renaissance door… The heterogeneous proportions of the castle are the yard stick of its impressive yet elegant past. Its origins go back to the Hundred Year War and its history continues into modern times. Owned by the Carles family, a long line of prestigious people, mayors, Bordeaux parliamentary presidents, the château became, in the seventeenth century, a high place for thinkers and literary types. La Boétie, husband of Marguerite de Carles, lived here. The Marquess of Boufflers, friend of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Beaumarchais and Diderot invited famous men to her salons. The Marquess was the last resident of the château. Sold as a National Treasure during the French Revolution, the château was then listed in the supplementary inventory of the Historical Monuments. Haut-Carles was passed on through the Chastenet de Castaing family and after several generations it is now up to Constance and her husband, Stephane Droulers to run the estate. 20 hectares of vineyards surround the château from which is produced the AOC Fronsac. The Haut Carles blend, a wine to put down, opulent and suave, represents the château’s quintessence. The Château de Carles blend, supple and fruity, is to be drunk young. Visits by appointment. www.hautcarles.com
Saillans Church. This small church dominates the valley of Isle and is one of the most beautiful in the area. A fourteenth century door has been preserved with four Gothic style arch mouldings.
Château de la Rivière. Emperor Charlemagne had the castle built in 769, a fortress for his empire. As from the twelfth century and for the five following centuries, the feudal lords of L’Isle presided over the destiny of the castle at the same time as running the farm and vineyards. They used the river to transport their Fronsac wines all the way to England, which had, even then, an excellent reputation. Under the ownership of the Counts of Saujon the wine estate continues to expand and prosper. Their last descendant, Charlotte Hyppolyte de Campet de Sauzon was the confident of Jean Jacques Rousseau.
The magnificent château was rebuilt in 1577 on the spot of the defensive camp and restored in the nineteenth century by the architect Viollet-le-Duc, it has underground caves covering more than three hectares. Now under the ownership of James Gregoire, the 58 hectares of vineyards, split into 53 varied plots, allow for subtle blends. Claude Gros, the estate’s oenologist vinifies and blends red, white and rosé wines. The Les Sources du Château de la Rivière blend, a red wine with a purple, glossy robe is silky on the palate and offers aromas of stewed fruit, violets and liquorice. Guided tours last an hour and a half with a presentation of the estate, history of the château, tour of the underground cellars and tasting of the two vintages. Sale of wine in the shop. Visits by appointment. Tel.: +33 5 57 55 56 51 www.chateau-de-la-riviere.com
Château Chadenne. One of the oldest properties in the Fronsac area. It belonged to Max Linder’s family until the middle of the last century. The new owners Philippe and Veronique Jean acquired the estate in 1999. Their first 2000 vintage has been acknowledged as one of the best Fronsac vintages, thanks to the help of their oenologist, Christian Veyry and the high technology in vinification. www.chateauchadenne.com
Château de Vayres. The castle belonged to the Albret family. King Henry IV inherited it from his mother Jeanne d’Albret. The French king stayed here then gave it to the president of the treasury of Guyana, Ogier de Gourgue. The latter decided to transform the fortress on the banks of the River Dordogne into a French renaissance style dwelling and asked the illustrious architect Louis de Foix for assistance in the matter. It is one of the most beautiful historical monuments in Aquitaine and was awarded the ‘Remarkable Garden’ label. Open to the public from Easter to 1st November. Tel.: +33 5 57 84 96 58. www.chateaudevayres.com
Château La Capelle. Situated near Libourne, the ravishing nineteenth century manor house is surrounded by vineyards belonging to the Feyzeau family. The Superior Bordeaux from this family small holding are kept in wooden casks and are silky and supple on the palate with hints of blackcurrant and vanilla. Worth discovering! Tel.: +33 5 57 51 09 35
Château Penin. Since 1854, this family run estate has devoted itself to producing fruit and wine; Patrick – an oenologist, represents the fifth generation of the Carteyon family. With 40 hectares of vines, new wine stores for vinification and maturing, Patrick devotes all his time to viticulture. The Château Penin AOC Bordeaux superieur is made up of 90% merlot grapes and 10% cabernet franc grapes, a harmonious balance, coarse yet supple on the palate, this is his wine of reference. The AOC white Bordeaux, a blend of white sauvignon, grey sauvignon and sémillon grapes, develops flavours of dried apricot and a slightly toasted taste. Visits and tastings all year round. www.chateaupenin.com
Les vignerons de Génissac. In existence since 1936, this cooperative now has 70 wine makers as members, all coming from adjoining villages. Visits, tasting sessions and sales from Monday to Saturday. Tel.: +33 5 57 55 55 65
At the meeting of the L’Isle and Dordogne Rivers, Libourne enjoys an exceptional position. Both a river and sea port, the town held the wine waterway traffic between the upper Dordogne countryside and ‘beyond the sea’ countries such as England, Holland and America. In the thirteenth century, the town was a fortified port under English rule. Fortified walls, double ditches and gates surrounded it. The gate of the Grand Port has two towers one of which is the Richard Tower, named in honour of the Prince of Wales, son of Edward III of England, who was born in Bordeaux in 1367.
La Chapelle du Carmel. Since 1980, the former Carmelite convent is used as an exhibition hall for fine art. 45 allée Robert Boulin. Tel.: +33 5 57 51 91 05
Château de Sales. One of the largest AOC Pomerol estates is to be found in Libourne. The seventeenth century castle has been in the same family for five centuries and its charm and elegance is reflected in its wines. 49 hectares of vines in both traditional and sustainable culture and a second Pomerol wine, the Château de Chantalouette, all round like that of its brother, but more reasonable price wise and very agreeable. www.chateau-de-sales.com
La Tour du Vieux Port. Wine by the glass and traditional Girond fare in this restaurant with a patio and terrace at the edge of the river bank. 23 quai Souchet. Tel.: +33 5 57 25 75 56
The Pomerol vineyard stretches over 800 hectares in the parish of Pomerol and neighbouring Libourne. A red wine, mainly from merlot grapes which has acquired world renown, one only has to mention Petrus! Pomerol is the only vintage that does not have a hierarchical ranking. In the middle ages, the Hospitaliers of Saint Jean established their first commandment in Pomerol in the Libourne area on the road to Compostello. They built a manor house, a hospital and a church in the pure roman style. The Roman legions planted vines in the parish and the monks kept the culture going, offering a place to stay and the comfort of their wine to the pilgrims. Today, pilgrims from the world over come to this small village, whose name is great, to celebrate the Pomerol wine mass!
La Maison des vins. With over 70 references, this is the window-dressing for Pomerol, devoted to knowledge, tasting and sale of the fine wine. It is housed in a building, over 100 square metres, which was designed and built under the direction of Bordeaux architect Pascal Teisseire. www.vins-pomerol.fr
La table du Vigneron. Bistrot dishes, typical Girond fare and also truffles and Bazas beef to accompany a glass of Pomerol. What could be better! 86 route de Calusseau. Tel.: +33 5 57 84 40 40.
Pétrus. Its name comes from the locality called Pétrus. It is one of the only estates not to be called a “Château” for the simple reason that there is no building on the estate. Only a modern wine store is to be found to show the Pétrus vintage exists. With only 11.4 hectares of vineyards, but rich clay and iron filled soil, simply the best! Vines over 35 years old planted with merlot plants and a little cabernet franc are beautifully kept to make velvet wines. Pétrus is the sixth most expensive wine in the world. The price of a bottle for a “petit millésime” reaches astronomical amounts. The estate belongs to the Moueix family who do not allow visits.
Château Petit-Village. A property belonging to the insurance group AXA, the Petit-Village château has all the means necessary to make a great Pomerol: vineyards situated on Graves territory, a highly skilled team and Stephane Dérenoncourt to advise them. Their first wine, Château Petit-Village vintage 2010 is a wine to put down , with a deep ruby red colour, rich in red fruit and freshness, full of promise. The second one, the Jardin de Petit-Village was created in 1996 with a majority of merlot and is crackly and fruity. Vineyard visits, visits of the wine store, including a modern one designed by the architect Alain Trioud and tasting sessions by appointment. www.petit-village.com
Château la Connivence. This estate was created recently thanks to the complicity of three friends: châteaux owners, football club owners… with a common interest in fine wines. With only 1.45 hectares of vineyard and 2 500 bottles produced for each vintage, this very exclusive Pomerol is sponsored by the oenologist Claude Gros and the wine architect Stéphane Dérencourt. The Belle Connivence 2009, the second wine from this château, is a very good vintage from merlot grapes, very expressive to the nose with a intense colour, rich in fruit and hints of spice that continue to develop. www.chateaulaconnivence.com
Château La Conseillante. The name came from the eighteenth century owner, Catherine Conseillane. The château was acquired in 1871 by the Nicolas family and has remained in their hands ever since. Twelve hectares of precious vineyards in Pomerol are cared for by the owners who are strong winemakers. The excellent 2009 vintage, whose robe is black, is an explosion of suave and fruity notes on the nose. The 2010 promises to be superb. No sale of the wines at the château. www.laconseillante.com
Château L’Evangile. In the eighteenth century, it was the Eglise family who were the precursors of Pomerol’s vineyards reputation. In the nineteenth century, Paul Chaperon bought this small chapel dedicated to Pomerol. He built the present dwelling in the style of the Second Empire. In 1990, Baron de Rothschild estates bought all of this property and renovated the fermenting room, and the wine store to create a second wine, the Blason of the Evangile. As for the 2007 vintage, Château de l’Evangile, it takes you to Heaven’s door!
Lalande de Pomerol
La Fleur de Boüard Winery
An estate belonging to the Hubert de Boüard de Laforest family that produces fabulous wines on very stony ground. 25 hectares of vineyards and three blends in appellation Lalande de Pomerol: the Plus de la Fleur de Boüard made from 100% merlot matured for 33 months in new casks remains a great wine to put down. A small production of a second wine, the Château La Fleur Saint-Georges enables one – if one has the good luck to be able to taste it – to appreciate the full generosity of a great and powerful Pomerol. The 2009 vintage, the Fleur de Boüard with its robe a Chinese ink colour brings out flavours of cherry, vanilla and moka. Velvety and powerful on the palate, it is one of the best wines of the estate. Visit by appointment. www.lafleurdebouard.com
Château de Roquebrune. The estate of an independent family of wine makers whose character is very much attached to the earth. Their first plots were acquired in 1880 on the north facing side of the Barbanne, a little stream which separates the Pomerol from the Lalande de Pomerol appellations. It also determines the frontier between the Pays d’Oc and the Pays d’Oïl. In 1970, the estate, traditionally geared towards to polyculture, starts to put “wine into bottles” and devotes itself entirely to wine making. Today, it counts 10.5 hectares of vineyards, grouped around the wine store, under sustainable cultivation. The château produces very natural Lalande de Pomerol wines, with aromas of red fruit, very fine and supple. The Château de Roquebrune, vintage 2008, with a red purple colour, associates aromas of ripe fruit with wooden notes that evolve towards liquorice and vanilla. Visits by appointment. www.chateauderoquebrune.com