Tag Archives: Les Medocaines

Wine Time.

Tradition has it Bordeaux wines are best serve with food, but that does not mean it has to be a formal dinner or lunch. To prove the point Chateaux in Bordeaux are now thinking outside the box and offering visitors the chance to taste their wines in a more relaxed atmosphere.

I mentioned in a previous post that Les Medocaines will offer you breakfast before tasting on a Sunday morning and for the summer Chateau Pape Clement, a classified growth in the Graves, is offering a series of themed brunches. Pape Clement is known for its wine tourism, with its Chateau bedrooms available for guests, as well as tasting rooms and cellars.  It is effectively an urban vineyard, a small green oasis in the middle of the Bordeaux suburbs, so perfectly placed to invite city dwellers over. The next brunch will take place on the 15th June with a fruit theme serving a selection of fruit juices and jams produced by Alain Milliat each one chosen to highlight the fruit aromas associated with the Château wines such as peaches, strawberries, blackcurrants, and much more. The 29th June will be a completely different Japanese theme with a Sushi selection and in July, on the 6th and 27th, the theme will be ‘pink’ so come dressed in pink to sample some rosé or on the 10th August for a seafood buffet.

Brunch at Chateau Pape Clement

Brunch at Chateau Pape Clement

If your prefer your wine in the afternoon, call in to Château Carbonneau in Pessac Sur Dordogne. Here, not far from Saint Emilion, Wilfrid Franc de Ferrière and his New Zealand wife Jacquie have created ‘The Glass house’, a ‘Salon du Thé’ named after the spectacular green house built onto the side of their 19th century chateau.

The Glass House

The Glass House

The chateau has been in Wilfred’s family since the 1930s and it is one of only a few vineyards in Bordeaux that still practise mixed agriculture with their 20 strong herd of Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle as a compliment to the 20 hectares of  ‘Saint Foy de Bordeaux vines producing red, white and rosé wines.

Tea Time

Tea Time

If driving home along the winding lanes after your tasting seems a too risky, book ahead to stay in one of the 5 guest rooms in the Chateau. You can then join fellow guests for dinner prepared by Jacquie in the Chateau dining room and the next morning take breakfast on the South facing terrace or in the conservatory – and you can start all over again.













More tourism from women in wine.

There was an interesting little historic view of the role of women in wine on the Bordeaux website recently.  It’s a topic I love to champion, as you’ll know if you follow this blog. And whilst on the subject, last week ‘Les Medocaines’ launched their new 2014 wine tourism products. These wine makers from the Medoc have been opening their doors to wine enthusiasts for a hands-on introduction to wines of the region since 2005.


Martine Cazeneuve of Chateau Paloumey and Armelle Cruze of Chateau Le Taillan join forces as Les Medocaines.

This year they are opening on Sundays to allow you to make the most of your weekends in Bordeaux. Start with breakfast at Chateau Paloumey  and a  walk through the vineyards to learn about the agriculture cycle of the vines. Then on to Chateau du Taillan to learn about wine making in the cellar followed by a picnic in the beautiful grounds of the chateau.

Picking at Paloumey

Picking at Paloumey


If you can’t get there in the summer, don’t despair as in the autumn they are running their traditional harvest workshops where you can set to with the secateurs and in the winter running their a blending workshop to see how the wines are made. Details from the Bordeaux Tourist Office.

Just as I started writing this, I learned the sad news that Christine Valette Pariente has left us after a long and brave battle with illness. She was at the head and the heart of Chateau Troplong Mondot, seeing her hard work rewarded with the elevation of the property to a First Classified Growth in 2006. Her sense of hospitality was reflected in the creation of les Belles Perdrix rooms and restaurant at the chateau.  My condolences and wishes go to her family at this difficult time.


It’s all in the blend

One of the key skills for a Bordeaux wine maker is blending and now is the time many are starting to look at the blend for the 2011 vintage. Blending is more than just throwing all the different grape varieties together. Although appellation laws control what grape varieties wine makers can grow and use in their blends, be they white or red, how and when it is done is down to the individual wine maker.
It is rare to find field blends in Bordeaux, that is wine made from different grape varieties fermented in the vat together. Wine makers will choose the varieties they plant and where they plant them as a function of the soil types, the topography, and the micro climate they have in their vineyard (the famous terroir). This plot by plot management of the vineyard will give vines of different ages and varieties on different soils, all of which will be ready for picking at different times. This will be carried through to the wine making with each plot vinified as a separate wine in preparation for blending.
Some properties blend when the malolatic fermentations are finished and the wines are run into barrels, allowing barrel aging to take place for the final blended wine. Others prefer to barrel age each grape variety separately, allowing a different oak selection for each cuvee before blending at bottling, for others it will be a continual process bringing together the final blend over the aging period. In all cases there is always a final blend to ensure consistency and blend out the barrel difference.

Blending is never a fixed recipe, despite the percentages planted in the vineyard, the final blend will vary from vintage to vintage depending on what mother nature has thrown at us. Some vintages favor an excellent expression of Cabernet and others Merlot, both in volume and quality. The wine maker has the added advantage, at most properties, of being able to blend 2 wines, a first or grand vin, and second label. Don’t be mislead, the second label is not a dustbin where everything that is not up to scratch gets blended. Often from younger wines, sometimes with a higher percentage of Merlot, they offer a wine that is ready for drinking earlier than the ‘Grand Vin’ and more accessible in price as well as in style – think diffusion range instead of haute couture (an interesting analogy given the presence of Chanel, LVMH and PPR in the Bordeaux firmament). Many properties, even offer a third blend allowing for even more leeway. Properties may always reserve certain plots of land for certain levels of quality such as the Grand Vin of Chateau Latour that only ever comes from the same vineyards, known as l’Enclos, close to the chateau. Wheres as Les Fort de la Tour come from the surrounding areas that never enters the grand vin blend and the Pauillac again is sourced from further afield. Wine from the Enclos many enter Les Forts – but never the contrary.

If you want to learn more about blending why not try your hand in Bordeaux, the Ecole du vin de Bordeaux will teach you how to blend in their technical class or you can go to the heart of the problem and learn with wine makers in a Château.

Chateau Lanessan in the Medoc offers a wonderful ‘Winemakers visit’ that offer the chance to taste the various grape varieties before creating your own blend and comparing it to the winemakers selection. Or you can join in a blending workshop with Les Medocaines, leaving the Bordeaux tourist office in the morning the tour includes visits to 2 of the properties again tasting the different varieties and a mystery blend to identify and a tasting of the final blends from all four properties.

Blending at Chateau Lanessan

Later this month, on 24th february, 2 properties from different areas of Bordeaux have joined together to offer a discovery day including blending skills. As well as visiting the spectacular Chateau Camarsac in the Entre deux Mers and Chateau Bouscaut in Graves and making your own blend to take home you can enjoy a lunch at Classified growth Château Bouscaut. On the right bank Chateau Siaurac offers another approach to blending tasting wines from Merlot and Cabernet aged in both barrel and vats for you to blend.

and at Chateau Siaurac

Be careful you may discover a new vocation.

Come join the harvest

The Bordeaux harvest is under way, the dry whites are in and the reds are starting with the more precocious merlot. It is possible to join in the fun of the harvest in Bordeaux, even if you’re not feeling up to all the backbreaking work. For several years ‘Les Medocaines’ a group of 4 women wine makers have organised harvest days at their properties; Château Paloumey and du Taillan in the Haut Medoc, Château La Tour de Bessan in Margaux and Château Loudenne in Médoc .
Just sign up at the Bordeaux tourist office for one of their scheduled days and you will be whisked away to pick and sort in the morning and, after joining the harvesters for lunch, it’s off to learning how to make and blend the wine in the afternoon.

Grape selection at Château Paloumey

If you are happier observing from a safe distance but still want the atmosphere, from the 10-12 September Château Gruaud Larose, classified growth of Saint Julien, is also offering the possibility to join in the fun with their Harvest workshop days. These include a tasting of the different grape varieties during a visit of the property, a harvest lunch alongside the pickers and a tasting of the fermenting must in the afternoon. Along with the lunch at wine, that’s a start to finish tasting experience.
Or you can just turn up for a harvest lunch along side the real workers. Chateau Troplong Mondot, first growth of Saint Emilion, offers a wonderful harvest menu in the dining room next to the cellars along with 4 different wines from the property, as does Château Phelan Segur in Saint Estephe. Squeezed between top classified growths Cos d’Estournel and Montrose this family vineyard has one of the post spectacular locations overlooking the Gironde Estuary.

If you can’t decide and want someone to organise all the details for you, Decanter Tours is offering personalised Harvest tours to suit your mood. Book now before it’s all over.

Colours of wine and shades of beauty

You will know by now that ‘Women in Wine’ is one of my favourite themes – and there are more and more women making wine that really appeals to a wider audience. One of the dynamic groups of women wine makers in Bordeaux, and one of the first to launch joint wine tourism products, is ‘Les Medocaines’, a group of 4 wine makers and owners from the Medoc : Armelle Falcy-Cruze from Château Le Taillan, Martine Caseneuve from Château Paloumey, Marie-Laure Lurton from La Tour Besson and Florence Lafragette from Château Loudenne.

They organise regular joint events including days participating in the harvest, food and wine tastings, blending workshops, etc. As they work closely with the Bordeaux tourist office you can just hop on a bus and go explore their Medoc properties without giving a thought to driving home afterwards.
Two of them, Martine and Armelle, have now taken the feminine theme a step further with Palmoumey and Le Taillan organising wine and beauty workshops with local makeup artist Annie Lay. While sipping a glass of rosé guests will enjoy a make up class and then off to the cellars to discover the beauty of wine making with tasting from different terroirs of the properties and finally the beauty of serving wine with a special tasting about decanting and presenting wines.

Men are allowed but will be ushered off to the cellars for a blending workshop whilst the ladies sip their rosé.

Let’s hope Annie shares the secrets for disguising the damage the morning after !

Visits with a difference or how to avoid barrel fatigue.

It has been said that after the third or forth château visit some visitors may suffer from barrel fatigue – after the same description of wine making and barrel ageing in each Château – but do not despair properties in Bordeaux have caught on and are offering visits with a difference.
One of the first to cotton on were ’Les Medocaines’ four women wine makers who have joined forces to offer visitors a different insight to the châteaux. They organise joint visits between the four properties of Château Paloumey, Château La Tour Bessan, Château La Loudenne and Château du Taillan. Themes vary from blending to food and wine workshops and even participating in the harvest for a day.
Four more women wine makers from Margaux (are we picking up a theme here?) have also got together again to ensure that they all offer visitors a different experience. The themes at each vary from Château Prieuré Lichine where you explore the history of the 1855 classification, Château Rauzan Gassies understanding the Margaux terroir, Château La Tour de Bessan grape varieties and blending and Château Kirwan the commercial organisation of Bordeaux.
All these tours can de booked through the Bordeaux Tourist board who will lay on the transport too so you can taste in peace.
Château Gruaud Larose is another of the many classified growths of the Medoc open to visitors and they offer specific visits for this season, on certain days either the cellar master M. Carmagnac or the agricultural manger M. Frederique will accompany visitors each explaining their expertise and role at the property. For more information contact Maisa Mansion at maisa.mansion@gruaud-larose.com
Make sure you book ahead.

The View from Château du Taillan – a taste of visits to come.

Les Medocaines in WIT

Les Medocaines; Martine Cazeneuve (Château Paloumey), Marie-Laure Lurton (Château La Tour de Bessan), Armelle Falcy Cruse (Château du Taillan) and Florence Lafragette (Château Loudenne) have always been one step ahead with their idea of 4 different châteaux, all run by women, working together to promote not only their wines but wine tourism. They have created joint wine tastings, workshops and food and wine programmes that take enthusiasts from one property to another discovering everything from pruning to blending to food and wine matching with local specialties.
Once Again they have innovated but this time in packaging and selling their wines. Already available as a mixed case the wines are now presented as ‘WIT’. Wine in a tube. The test tube of wine, containing just enough for a generous glass is sealed with a screw cap to prevent oxidation. The gift set of the 4 wines is a perfect stocking filler.