Tag Archives: Chateau Lestrille

Wine and dine your way through the Bordeaux vines.

In 2016 I posted about the Chateaux in Bordeaux opening restaurants to better showcase their wines. Given their success, and the increased sophistication of wine tourism in Bordeaux, more properties have since joined the party so here are a few updates of not-to-miss dining opportunities on your next Bordeaux wine tour.

Château Troplong Mondot opened the Les Belles Perdrix restaurant in 2012 when the chateau started offering casual dining for guests staying in their guest rooms. Chef David Charrier was awarded his first Michelin star in 2016. Under new ownership and management since 2017, the cellars and the restaurant are undergoing a complete renovation and will reopen the stunning terrace with some of the best views in the region, in 2021. In the meantime, you can sample Charrier’s cuisine if you book a tour of the vineyards. The sommelière, Celine, will take you on a tour through the vines in their Landrover to finish with a tasting of five wines accompanied by delicious ‘amuses bouches’ created by the chef.

Troplong defender

Rather than create a restaurant at the property,  Chateau Angelus, purchased  Le Logis de La Cadène in 2013, one of Saint Emilion’s oldest restaurants in the heart of the medieval town.  They won a Michelin star in 2017 thanks to the skill of chef Alexandre Baumard. It too, has a wonderful shady terrace for sunny days but a word of warning – wear sensible shoes, as it’s half way down a very steep slope!   You can also sample their cuisine on the go, this June they opened Les Paniers du Logis, a fast food outlet with a difference. All the meals are home-made; from local products and served in reusable glass bocaux (big jam jars), including delicious desserts, pates jams and of course bottles of wine.

Paniers du logis

Sauternes has now joined the party. This year saw the opening of the Lalique Hotel in Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey. Under the new ownership of Sylvio Denz, the hotel opened in June this year – a 400th birthday present to the estate.

Jérôme Schilling, the former executive chef of Villa René Lalique, (two Michelin stars) runs the restaurant. Given the quality of both the cuisine and the service a Michelin star must surely be on its way. The rooms are beautiful too, so don’t worry about driving home; have that last glass of Sauternes!


The foodie revolution in Sauternes started at the beginning of the year  with the opening of La Chapelle, a restaurant in the beautiful old chapel of Chateau Guiraud. As well as Château Guiraud by the glass, they have a really good selection of half bottles of Sauternes and Barsac on the wine list, a great way to taste your way across the appellation.


Just across the Garonne is the Entre deux Mers, sadly overlooked by wine tourists, but the restaurant at Chateau Malromé might just be the thing to get them there. Chateau Malromé is famous for the previous owners; the family of Toulouse Lautrec. The impressive 16th century chateau has been completely renovated by the Huynh family and continues to welcome visitors to discover the home of the artist as well as the wines. The contemporary restaurant Adele by Darroze in partnership with neighboring Langon institution Maison Claude Darroze.  Opened in the chateau earlier this year it has a beautiful terrace off the main courtyard (we do like alfresco dining in Bordeaux!). Managed by Jean-Charles Darroze with Chef Sébastien Piniello the modern setting is perfect for a cuisine that reflects both local and Asian influences of the two families.

From here you can head back towards Bordeaux through the Cadillac region. This area, known for it’s sweet white wines, has vineyards that roll down steep slopes on the right bank of the Garonne River. At the top of one of these slopes look out for La Cabane dans les Vignes; a lovely wooden chalet dominating the most spectacular view of the Garonne valley amongst the organic vines of Chateau Bessan. Sibelle and Mathieu Verdier built this cabane so guests could taste their wines and enjoy the sunset – you can too now. Book ahead on Friday and Saturday evenings to taste their wines alongside tasting plates and enjoy the breath-taking views.


Then there is the Medoc. I have previously mentioned Michelin starred Cordeillan Bages and the more relaxed brasserie Café Lavinal in the villages of Bages but if you want a light lunch in a unique setting you should call in to Chateau Marquis d’Alesme in Margaux. This classified growth, right at the heart of the village of Margaux, was purchased by the Perrodo family in 2006 who already owned Chateau Labegorce. Or at least they purchased the vines, the original chateau remaining in the hands of the previous owners. Starting from scratch to build a functional but beautiful winery, again inspired by their dual Chinese and French heritage, they decided to share their passion not just through the cellars and wine but also through a relaxed restaurant. Tucked away in the Hameau of la Folie d’Alesme, light plates of local specialities accompany a by-the-glass and by-the-bottle selection of the property’s wines including a not-to-be-missed chocolate and wine pairing.

Chocolate ar Marquis d'alesme

If you are passing through Bordeaux and can’t make it to the vines (shame on you) the vines can come to you. Chateau Lestrille, a family vineyard in the Entre Deux Mers region, has its own wine bar in the heart of old Bordeaux. The dynamic owner, Estelle Rummage, opened the chateau to tourism years ago and now she has opened the wine bar Un Château en Ville’ to serve and sell her wines to the city dwellers and visitors. She produces a complete range from white and red to rose and also bag in box – there’s plenty to choose from, accompanied by tasting plates from oyster to cold cuts, toasties and cheese plates.

Chtx en ville

If you prefer grand cuisine there is La Grand Maison; the hotel and restaurant that really is a chateau in the city belonging to wine magnate Bernard Magrez. The excellent cuisine of this two Michelin star restaurant is created by Jean-Denis Le Bras under the watchful eye of Pierre Gagnaire.

London friends, if you can’t make it to Bordeaux, Bordeaux can come to you. Clarette opened in the spring of 2017, in a beautiful half timbered Marylebone townhouse, Clarette is the project of a young generation of wine lovers with deep Bordeaux roots: Alexandra Petit, of the Château Margaux family and restaurateur Natsuko Perromat du Marais (the Perromat family are from the Graves) are in partnership with Thibault Pontallier, son of the much missed director of Château Margaux, Paul Pontallier. Go for its relaxed, fun atmosphere and stay for the excellent by-the-glass wine list.

Clarette outside

Clarette by night

Another Bordeaux first growth in London is Château Latour. The smart private club; Ten Trinity Square has a Château Latour Discovery Room and dining room allowing punters to taste a unique collection of Chateau Latour by the glass as well as by the bottle, all accompanied by the cuisine of Anne-Sophie Pic who also has her La Dame de Pic  restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in the building.

Thanks to a recent tweet from fellow Bordeaux insider Jane Anson I have just learned there’s another one to add to the list: Boyds Grill and Wine Bar linked with Château Boyd Cantenac in Margaux. More research needs to be done – who’s with me?






What’s New in Bordeaux Wine Retail?

Bordeaux is enjoying its success as a city break destination with visitor numbers skyrocketing. Its reputation as a gastronomic centre is also well established as witnessed by more Michelin stars this year. The sleeping beauty that was Bordeaux no longer slumbers but is wide awake and partying, joined by Parisian visitors now only two hours away on the high speed LGV train.

Wine makers are not slow to make the most of the vibrant city scene as a showcase for their wines. Not everyone who visits Bordeaux makes it out to the vineyards – although they really should, as it is now so easy.

Affordable Bordeaux are invited to the party. Chateau Lestrille, a family vineyard in the Entre Deux Mers region, now has it’s own wine bar in the heart of old Bordeaux. The dynamic owner, Estelle Roumage, opened the chateau to tourism years ago and now she has opened the wine bar ‘Un Château en Ville’ to serve and sell her wines to the city dwellers and visitors. She produces a complete range from white and red to rose and also bag in box – there’s plenty to choose from.

chateau en vile

Un Château en Ville

There is no shortage of great wine shops in Bordeaux and with so much competition and the fact that most of them are owned by wine merchants – prices are usually pretty competitive. If you have left your wine buying until the last minute – don’t despair. Wine Merchant Briau can help. They opened the ‘Pavilion des Vins du Bordeaux’ last year in the newly renovated train station built for the arrival of the new high speed LGV train from Paris. This is the second shop of the Wine Merchant under the management of Pierre-Antoine Borie. Son of owners Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste in Pauillac, Borie knows his way around Bordeaux wine and this large modern shop offers a range from €3 to €800, and there is always white, rose and champagne on ice for that last minute purchase. They are open from 10 ’til 8pm including Sundays and bank holidays to welcome the estimated 20 million passengers a year that are expected through the new  station.

Briau 1

The Pavillons des Vins de Bordeaux at the Gare Saint Jean

As it’s all about getting closer to the consumer, three innovative wine enthusiasts have a plan to get even closer this summer. They met at a wine tasting club in 2015 and pondered how to help consumers navigate the wide range of wines that can leave the uninitiated stumped. Their solution was to create the first crowd-funded wine shop in Bordeaux, Les Trois Pinardiers, offering a tight selection of just 50 wines that changes every three months.

The small ships that transported the wine from port to port along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers inspired their name. Fitting, as transport is another of their innovations: punters can order wine from their phone with the promise of a delivery in the city in under 30 minutes, with local food specialities and fresh bread too.

This year they will be getting even closer to their customers, launching the first Bordeaux wine truck. Food trucks are nothing new to Bordeaux, but Les Trois Pinardiers have adapted a Citroen H from the 70s into a mobile wine bar. It will hit the road in June.

Wine Truck

The Trois pinardiers’ Wine Truck

It’s never been easier to enjoy great wine, in Bordeaux at affordable, even without any forward planning.





Bib Happy at Château Lestrille.

It’s not uniquely the top vineyards in Bordeaux that are innovating. It could be argued that less well-known properties, where the competition is toughest, need to innovate most of all. Almost fifty per cent of Bordeaux production is in the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur appellations (including Rosé and Clairet), that’s about 4000 vineyards trying to find their place at a very competitive price point.

Clairet and rosé, two Château Lestrille specialties

How can they create a brand identity? How can they differentiate their wines? One solution is to cultivate a direct contact with the client. It increases margins but also allowing them to ‘speak’ to their customers creating that all-important bond, but how to reach them?

Wine fairs, direct mailing, creating appealing branding and packaging, wine tourism, welcoming clients to the estate with tastings, tours, lunches and other events are all great ways (and hard work). Certain properties are really good at some of these, one or two are good at it all. Château Lestrille is a good example. I have mentioned them in previous posts, (yes I do have my favourites) but a recent visit reminded me just how dynamic they are.

Estelle Roumage serves her wine with lunch on the terrace ofChâteau Lestrile

Château Lestrille is in the centre of the village of Saint Germain du Puch, in the Entre deux Mers, about half way between Bordeaux and Saint Emilion. The location is not without its difficulties; the vinification and ageing cellars are on opposite sides of the road – a bit of a logistical headache at certain times of the year. Unlike Classified growths Leoville Poyferre and Leoville La Cases in Saint Julien, who have a tunnel under the road to solve a similar problem, Lestrille has to rely on forklifts.

But they have turned this location on a busy road to their advantage, by opening a shop in 2010. They are pioneers; wining a Best of Wine Tourism as early as 2013 for their innovative approach. Along side the bottled wines, local food specialities and other wine gifts and gadgets they have now introduced their latest packaging: a BIB (Bag in a Box) and they have embraced the concept with a surprisingly Anglo-Saxon sense of humour.

The busy shop at Chateau Lestrille

Estelle Roumage may be French, the third generation wine maker in her family, but something must have rubbed off on her during her time studying in the UK or perhaps when she was wine making in New Zealand.

With names such as BIP-BOP A LULA for the Bordeaux Blanc, BIB BIB BIB HOURRA for the Rosé, BIB OR NOT TO BIB for the Bordeaux red and BIB HAPPY for the Bordeaux Superieur – you know these are party wines that are not taking themselves too seriously. They are made with the same care as the bottled wines and are deliciously easy drinking. Even more so when they are just 17€ for 3 litres (20€ for the Bordeaux Sup).

BIBs with a sense of humour.

They regularly welcome people to the vineyard for tours, tastings, lunches and other events but Estelle wants to get closer still to her clients. Her next project is a shop and wine bar in down town Bordeaux ‘Un Château en Ville’. It will open at the end of November 2017 at 25, Rue St James. As far as I’m aware, this will be the first shop and wine bar opened by a vineyard in the city. If there are any more I haven’t discovered them yet, please let me know. I’m not counting the Grand Maison of Bernard Magrez of course – that’s a whole different approach (Lestrille wines are on the menu there though).

The soon to open Lestrille wine bar and shop in Bordeaux.

While you’re waiting for opening night, if you do visit the vineyard, go at the weekend. They have regular tapas nights in the cellar and garden (the next one is planned for 30th June if you’re nearby), tastings and lunches; including wine maker evenings featuring other vineyards from both Bordeaux and further afield.

Bordeaux closed doors? Not here!






Claret or Clairet?

If you are a visitor to Bordeaux I’m sure you’ve tasted a Clairet. In the UK you might think I’ve made a spelling mistake. Surely I mean Claret? Although the names of these two wines, Clairet and Claret, are historically linked they mean very different things.

Clairet is one of 65 appellations that make up Bordeaux (that’s the official figure in 2016 – it’s a bit of a moveable feast). It is found in the sub group of Bordeaux known as ‘Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur’. This is the real, value for money powerhouse of Bordeaux, that represents about 50% of the region’s production and, as befits its size, a remarkable diversity of styles. Blended from the same red grapes that go into classic Bordeaux blends (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenère), these light coloured wines tend to be dominated by Merlot as they come mainly from the cooler clay soils.

What is the difference between a Rosé and a Clairet? Basically the intensity of the colour. This is decided by measuring the quantity of natural pigments in the wine and there are strict levels that differentiate a Rosé from a Clairet and a Red wine to qualify for these three Bordeaux appellations.
In Bordeaux we make both Rosé and Clairet wines by the traditional method of leaving the whole grapes to macerate in the juice after a light pressing. No mixing red and white wines here.

Skins may stay in contact with the juice for as little as a few hours to make a light pink rosé, with many specialist producers using a continuous press system allowing the wine to stay on the skins for a short time then automatically run off, under airtight conditions. This protects the fresh acid and aromatic delicacy that these wines are known for.

A continuous press at Chateau Thieuley in the Entre Deux Mers

A continuous press at Chateau Thieuley in the Entre Deux Mers

The longer the juice macerates on the skins, the darker the colour of the wine. Too dark and you can legally no longer call your wine Rosé; it will be Clairet. Clairet is a ‘half way house’ between a light red and a rosé. The slightly longer maceration time on the skins ranges from 24-48 hours compared to just a few hours for some Rosés and reds usually macerate for up to 3 or 4 weeks. In hot years with really ripe fruit, it doesn’t take very long for colour to leach from the skins so a beady eye has to be kept on the juice to ensure running off happens at just the time to obtain just the shade of pink the winemaker and his clients are looking for.

Running of. Dark enough or too dark?

Running off. Dark enough or too dark?

The process of bleeding off the wine from the skins is known as ‘saignée’ (French for bleeding). Traditionally, these wines were made in vintages when yields were high, this can result in a weaker red wine, bigger berries means more pulp, more juice and less skin. Running off some of the juice after a couple of days of skin maceration will produce a lovely bright Rosé or Clairet and simultaneously concentrate the remaining must as it increases the proportion of skins to juice, naturally making the red wines more powerful. A great job – two wines for the price of one.

Rosé and Clairet are no longer a simple by-product of red production. Specialist producers choose specific, usually cooler, plots for these wines. Picking at just the right time to keep acidity and freshness but with ripe enough skins to give the peachy, rose petal and raspberry notes, yet not over ripe to get too much colour. It’s quite a balancing act.

Waiting for just the right colour

Waiting for just the right colour

Wine making usually takes place in stainless style – perfectly clean, cool and airtight to keep that precious fresh acidity and those delicate aromas. Unlike the big red brothers Clairet is not obliged to undergo the secondary, or malolactic, fermentation, which would reduce the acidity in the wine. Again it’s all about freshness.They may however age the wine for a few months on the lees to add a roundness to the wine.

These very affordable wines merit a little more attention, they are more complicated to make than they appear; getting the balance right at harvest and during wine making to obtain the ideal colour, aromas and freshness takes skill. With more personality than a light rosé they remain a very affordable local secret. The Bordelais serve them chilled as summer lunch wines, perfect for an aperitif, picnic, beach or barbecue. Clairet wines are bucking the current trend for rosé wines getting lighter and lighter, production grew by 25% last year to reach about 4.5 million bottles.

So what has this got to do with Claret?

In medieval times and up until the 17th century we’re fairly sure all of the Bordeaux wines were made like this; much lighter than the red wines made in Bordeaux today. Thanks to a thirsty population and close ties going back to Eleanor of Aquitaine’s marriage to Henry Plantagenet in 1152, England was then the leading market for Bordeaux wines, (it’s currently in second place just behind China).

The term Claret, currently used in the UK as a generic term for red Bordeaux, probably came from a mispronunciation or misspelling by the English of the locally used Clairet.

Claret was already well established by the 17th century. When Château Haut Brion launched their new style wine, made using revolutionary techniques including a longer maceration and aging in barrels, they called it ‘the New French Claret’ to differentiate from other ‘Claret’ on the market. Claret remains today a term rarely used outside of the UK market.

So Clairet or Claret? With spring just around the corner and lighter wines on your mind you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Here are a few of my favourite Clairets, all from family run properties in the heart of the Entre Deux Mers, that you should be able to find on export markets.

Chateau Penin Clairet

Chateau Penin Clairet



Chateau Penin100% Merlot, macerates between between 24 and 60 hours pending upon the individual plot. Four months aging on the lees accentuates the lovely fruity length, great with spicy food.





Chateau Thieuley Clairet

Chateau Thieuley Clairet



Chateau Thieuley  A blend of 60% Merlot and  40%  Cabernet sauvignon, cool stainless steel fermented to keep  the fresh raspberry and strawberry aromas.





Chateau Lestrille Cap Martin

Chateau Lestrille Cap Martin




Château Lestrille Capmartin 100%  Merlot, pressed after 24 hours, cool fermented to retain lovely fresh cherry, and raspberry notes, aged for a few months on the lees for a lovely smooth mouthfeel.




These wines should be enjoyed within 3 years of their harvest date so don’t hang around.


Women in Wine Tourism.

As owner of the high-end Wine Tour Company Decanter Tours, one of the few full service wine tour operators with extensive experience working in the wine industry, Mary Dardenne couldn’t help noticing that most of the key players in this dynamic and growing sector, whether in accommodation, transportation, restaurants or wineries were women.

Following a wine fuelled lunch in Bordeaux between 8 girl friends, all, like Mary, key players in the industry; she created The Women in Wine Tourism association in 2009.  There were formal trade organisations in existence such as the Great Wine Capitals, Destination Vignobles and Vignobles et Chais en Bordelais but the objective was to create an informal and complementary association that covered all aspects of wine tourism.

Where it all began

Where it all began

This group is now, 4 years later, a dynamic networking association for the wine tourism industry including Chateaux, interprofessionnal organisations, hotels and restaurants from Bordeaux to Cognac and Burgundy.  Mary’s unique access to contacts in the industry across France has grown the association to 120 members with over 250 likes on the Facebook page and an active following on Twitter.

The monthly meetings, usually over lunch and a glass or two of wine, bring together between 30 and 50 members giving them an opportunity to talk about their various initiatives, discuss their challenges and successes and share ideas on how to continue growing in this relatively new sector. Informal, fun and supportive, the group has encouraged members to work together promoting their activities and creating joint projects.

Ready for lunch at Chateau Troplong Mondot.

Ready for lunch at Chateau Troplong Mondot.

These lunches are not only a forum for sharing and networking but also an opportunity to try new restaurants and discover new initiatives in chateaux as diverse as a restaurant and accommodation at Les Belles Perdrix at Chateau Troplong Mondot, conference and reception facilities at Chateau Marquis de Terme and a village centre boutique at Château Lestrille, to name a few. The group also participates in industry events such as Bordeaux Fête le Vin (26-29th June this year) and test-drives new initiatives such as the Bordeaux Wine Trip app.

Bordeaux Fête le Vin

Bordeaux Fête le Vin

It also provides a forum for new comers to the industry to meet market leaders in an informal, supportive and fun environment and learn from the experts in this growing field. If you want to know more contact Mary marydardenne@decantertours.com