Château Ausone. Ausone has the merit of being an “A” class Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru and to have remained a family estate since the eighteenth century. The seven hectares of vineyards located in the valley take root on Gallo-Roman relics. Legend has it the poet Ausone had built a villa on the same spot and that he would find inspiration in the juice of his vine to help him with his poetry. The estate was renamed Ausone when Jean Cantenat, a barrel carpenter with a love of literature, acquired it for himself in 1781. His descendants, the Dubois-Challon-Vauthier line inherited the prestigious estate through the women of the family. Alain Vauthier and his daughter, the young Pauline, put great pride in producing mythical and unique vintages each year. Both the 2000 and 2003 Château Ausone vintages received the Parker 100 score. A wine that has no price, subtle, with spicy and wooden aromas, the concentration of which remains impressive. Their second wine, Chapelle d’Ausone Primeur 2009, follows in its brother’s footsteps, a well-bred wine. Visits of the estate and the very old chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalene, by appointment. www.chateau-ausone-saint-emilion.com
Château La Mariotte. This small estate downhill from the city is a nice discovery. Just one hectare of vines but a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Château La Mariotte, with a 2007 vinthttp://www.winechictravel.com/wp-admin/edit.php?post_type=pageage that is light, fruit and very good value for money. To be savoured without delay at the restaurant Le Logis de la Cadène which is run by Marion, the owner of the estate. www.logisdelacadene.com
Angélus. The estate’s name has a good ring to it and once you have tasted its deep and vibrant wine, you will forever remember it like a bell toll. Hubert de Bouard de Laforest certainly made the link between his château and the very famous painting by Millet as his estate his surrounded by three bell-towers that once upon a time would ring the Angélus. The estate dates from 1782 and its Premier Cru classification from 1996. The 28 hectares of vineyards have been planted with the three grapes since the Revolution, with a preference for the cabernet franc. His first wine, the Angélus, produced as a mono-varietal merlot, is deep and powerful yet light on the palate. It can be found on the wine lists of all the Michelin starred tables from Guy Savoy to Alain Ducasse. The second wine, the Carillon de l’Angélus is becoming a rarity so appreciated it is by Saint-Émilion connoisseurs. Visits by appointment. www.angelus.com
Château Fonroque. The Château has been the cradle of the Moueix family since 1931. Their charming Girondine property is devoted to wine making. The last in line, Alain Moueix, a trained wine engineer, has brought his experience to the table and put his mark firmly on the estate. Alain transitioned to organic culture in 2002 and cultivates his 17 hectares with organic and bio-dynamic certified methods. An entire way of life. His cultivation takes into account the soil, water, as well as the sun and moon cycles. Everything is natural and follows the “Demeter” principles; Alain uses cow’s horn and cow manure as well as silica and camomile, yarrow root and nettle boiled infusions for the soil. The respectful management of each plot enables him to get the best out of them and brings a different balance to the wine. A pure wine produced by a purist. The 2008 vintage Grand Cru Classé Château Fonroque is a profound and deep Saint-Émilion wine with notes of golden tobacco, fruits and flowers, with a great aromatic purity and lots of freshness on the palate. Visits by appointment from Monday to Friday. The château also boasts a guest house full of character in the middle of the vines, the Maison d’Adèle. Tel.: +33 5 57 24 60 22 www.chateaufonroque.com
Château Canon. Who would have guessed that behind the façade of this eighteenth century residence lay the wines of a haute couture fashion house. Château Canon has been under the ownership of the Chanel fashion house since 1996. Since then, the estate has been revolutionised by the arrival of the fashionistas; half the vineyard has been replanted and the wine store and vat-house have undergone a makeover. The very chic renovated cellars reveal wooden casks that have been dressed with strappings in the Chanel blue colour. And the wine you might ask? Their Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé is very silky and velvety with a sober elegance, just like the little black dress! To be savoured on any occasion. Wine shop at the cellar. www.lacavedourthe.com
Château Corbin. Annabelle Cruse Bardinet, a qualified oenologist and a young wine maker, inherited the magnificent Girondine property from her grandmother with 13 hectares of vines on land that sits at the edge of the Pomerol region. The origins of Château Corbin go back to the fifteenth century when it is thought to have been one of the Black Prince’s strongholds. Annabelle follows traditional cultivation methods and produces two blends as sensible and elegant as she is. The first wine, Château Corbin Saint-Émilion Grand Cru is produced from older vines and is powerful and velvety. The second wine, the Corbin, is produced from young vines and is as a result punchier and fresher on the notes of fruit. Visits by appointment. www.chateau-corbin.com
Saint-Christophe des Bardes
Château Laroque. Nicknamed the “Versailles of Saint-Émillion”. La Quintinie, the grand master of Louis XIV’s vegetable garden has nothing to do with this. There were no vineyards at court but the king hugely appreciated Bordeaux wine. It’s the 1750 architecture, with a long and classic façade, a grand gate and the landscaped gardens that justify this comparison. In the eighteenth century, Château Laroque held within its walls some vines that were destined for the production of white wine for the Netherlands and “claret” for the English. Visits by appointment. www.chateau-laroque.com
Château de Fombrauge. The seventeenth century monastery was originally the Cistercian monks’ cloister. Their vineyards would stretch over the three villages of Saint Christophe de Bardes, Saint-Étienne de Lisse and Saint Hippolyte. Since 1999, the Château Fombrauge and its wine estate has been under the ownership of Bernard Magrez, owner of many wine estates throughout the world. Four blends, each with a unique typicity, are produced on the estate, including the Château Fombrauge Saint-Émilion Grand Cru and an AOC Bordeaux white assembled from sauvignon blanc, sauvignon gris and semillion grapes. The Château de Fombrauge also prides itself on hosting artists and musicians in residency. A patronage insisted upon by Bernard Magrez to contribute to the discovery of rising stars. The estate has just acquired a very rare Stradivarius violin, only 500 of which remain throughout the world. Visits of the vats, the archaeological museum and the French landscaped gardens. Visits and tastings are also organised around themes and are by appointment. www.fombrauge.com
Château Pavie Macquin. It is to the illustrious Albert Macquin, owner of the château of the same name, that we owe the grafted vine-stock method, which enables the recovery of those vineyards that had been attacked by phylloxera in the last century. Each and every wine maker pays tribute to him and since then vines have been replanted following this method. Benoit and Bruno Corre-Macquin now follow in the footsteps of their illustrious grandfather and carry on the wine making tradition. The vines are planted on a rocky limestone ground with strong clay and produce powerful, coarse and ample wines. A strength that Nicolas Thienpoint and Stéphane Derenoncourt, the principal architects of the Château Pavie Macquin have no trouble taming to extract graceful flavours.
The Château Pavie Primeur 2010 is an exceptional vintage. With a dark purple colour, it exhales liquorice, spice and incense fragrances. A smoothness that will come into its own after a few years in the cellar. Visits by appointment. www.pavie-macquin.com
Château Franc Pourret. François Ouzoulias has been representing the third generation of a family of wine traders originally from the Corrèze that had come down to the Libourne region, since 1989. François cultivates his vineyards under the Ecocert certification and continue to mature his wine in cement tanks as it used to be done in the olden days. The wine grower lets his land lie fallow, uses sustainable agriculture methods and ploughs his fields with cart horses. The wine is Saint-Émilion and Saint-Émilion Grand Cru “Good and Organic”. Château Franc Pouret takes part in Saint-Émilion’s “organic Thursdays”. This wine tourism initiative takes place once a month and offers tourists the opportunity to take a walk around and enjoy a picnic in the vineyards, meet the organic wine makers and discover their wines. Visit of the estate, the small Vine and Wine museum and tastings by appointment. www.ouzoulias-vins.com
Artigne de Lussac
Abbaye de Faize. An old Cistercian abbey founded by Peter II de Castillon in 1137, which had one of Montesquieu’s uncles as a priest. The ruins were restored by Maurice Druon, minister and permanent secretary of the Académie Française, who became the owner. It is at the Abbaye de Faize that Russian president Vladimir Putin was received in 2002. Maurice Druon was buried there in 2009.
Château de Ferrand. Built under Louis XIV, the château was bought by the famous Baron Bic in 1978. His descendants pursue the tradition of cultivating the 40 hectares of vines on the plateau of Saint Hippolyte, following sustainable cultivation methods. www.chateaudeferrand.com
The caves of Ferrand. In the Château’s grounds, one will discover strange looking artificial caves, built in the seventeenth century according to the fashion of the time. A folly dug out and ornamented to please Elie de Bétouland, a dreamy nobleman who was also a poet. A maze, a succession of furnished and decorated rooms, including the poet’s chamber of love and other rooms that pay tribute to Mme de Scudéry and to Louis XIV. Sadly, a number of baroque treasures have since been erased by time. The caves are an integral part of the château de Ferrand.
A historically significant château that produces unique wines. Unique because of the passion that Jean-François Quenin, lord of the castle and wine maker, has put into his estate so that from the vine to the glass, his wine is such a nobleman, a good companion, a very honest Saint-Émilion. 36 hectares surround the château undivided and are ploughed with cart horses. In addition to the traditional grape varieties, Jean-François also grows some carmenère, an old grape variety from the Bordeaux region with thicker skin that adds peppered and spicy notes as well as the black colour of the Pressac, tannic and powerful. The fortified castle, perched on a knoll with sloping vineyards, remodelled in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, presents a mixture of medieval Renaissance architecture with elements in the style of Viollet le Duc. The vintage château de Pressac is as powerful as a knight travelling back from the Crusades. The second wine, Château Tour de Pressac, is as sultry and fresh as a Prince. Analogies that suit the place well as the château de Pressac was right at the heart of the Hundred Year War Peace Treaty. It is in the chapel that the last Condorcat of the battle of Castillon was signed in 1453. Visits by appointment. www.chateau-de-pressac.com
Saint-Etienne de Lisse
Château Faugères. SLocated in the Castillon appellation area, a watch tower turned wine store designed by Mario Botta, stands tall over the Château Faugères estate. Cement covered with stone, steel door, glazed rooms, streamlined design, the lovely sobriety of the exterior hides modern high-tech rooms on the inside, ordered across different levels. Wine store, vat house and on the top floor a tasting room for vertical tastings of Saint-Émilion initiated by Alain Dourthe. The 1999 Grand Cru Château Péby Faugères, produced from merlot grapes, is a fatter wooden wine with red fruits, a deep colour and light on the palate. Other blends in the range include the Faugères from merlot franc and cabernet sauvignon grapes and some AOC Côtes de Castillon. The eighteenth century château, owned by the crystal manufacturing house Lalique, sits downhill and is surrounded by a remarkable park designed by Wirtz, known for his landscaping at the Louvre. Visits by appointment. www.chateau-faugeres.com
Église Saint-Etienne de Lisse. The fortified church was built in the pure Roman style with a panel of sculptures representing grotesque characters and monsters as was the custom in the Middle-Ages.
Château Clos de l’Eglise and Château Sainte Colombe. Two estates belonging to the Perse vineyards that produce AOC Côtes de Castillon and Crus Bourgeois wines. Wines that are very tannic, full bodied and fruity, with aromas of prunes and cherry jam that then evolve towards smokier notes. www.vignoblesperses.com
Sainte-Colombe Church. From the esplanade one can admire the Dordogne. This pretty Roman church from the twelfth century was built on the remnants of a Gallo-Roman villa of which some of the mosaics survived.
Saint-Georges de Montagne
Château Macquin.Château Macquin, formerly the Maisonneuve estate, was made up of 22 hectares of vineyards. It then grew by a further 24 hectares following the sale of the château Saint-Georges. Under the careful management of André François Macquin, the expanded estate took the name of its owner Château Macquin. Denis and Christine Corre Macquin, while preserving, in memory of their grandfather, the 1885 vat house with its oak casks, have added metal and steel vats. A trained agricultural engineer, Denis is particularly attached to the ecological cultivation of the vines and produces a Château Macquin in a Saint-Georges Saint-Émilion appellation. It was commended in the Special Edition of Le Point magazine as being a well-blended, floral, fruity wine with fresh tannins. A lovely blend! www.chateau-macquin.com
At the border with the Dordogne, Castillon was the historic witness of the end of the Hundred Year War between the French and the English. Founded as early as 845 by Emperor Charlemagne, Castillon, meaning small castle, was a rapidly developing fortified town with a castle surrounded by fortifications. In the twelfth century, the Viscounty of Castillon belonged to the Duchy of Aquitaine. In 1152, the Duchess Aliénor, after the annulment of her wedding to Louis VII, King of France, married Henry Plantagenêt, future King of England, and brought him the Viscounty in her dowry. The whole aim of the Hundred Year War was for the King of France to get the Aquitaine back. The last great battle took place just outside the gates to Castillon on 17 July 1453. General John Talbot was killed, the English army left in dismay. During the wars of religion, Henri of Navarre stayed in Castillon several times. Louis XIII had the castle and fortifications pulled down. In the eighteenth century, the town found prosperity thanks to the trade of wines on the Dordogne river.
Historical re-enactment of the Battle of Castillon. It retraces, with actors in full costume, life in the Middle-Ages and the battle scenes that brought the Hundred Year War to an end. Tel: + 33 5 57 40 14 53
The Baroque eighteenth century Church
The Midi Gate, known as the Iron Door, was initially part of the medieval city’s walls.
Maison des Vins des Côtes de Castillon. The AOC Côtes de Castillon wines cover 3000 hectares of vineyards across nine districts. These AOC wines are to be discovered at the Maison des Vins. 5 allée de la République. Tel.: +33 5 57 40 00 88
La Fontaine de Manon. A good little restaurant in the centre of town with a warm welcome. The menu follows the products selected daily and traditionally prepared and cooked by Sébastien Fontaine. 4 rue Waldeck-Rousseau. Tel.: + 33 5 57 40 24 48