Touring chateaus in Bordeaux and its surrounding villages like St. Emilion and L’Entre-Deux-Mers would be exciting for most people but for wine “enthusiasts” (people with a passion for everything wine!) it is beyond thrilling.
Last fall I was in the midst of planning our trip to France when we decided to start our journey in Bordeaux. Like any good social media consumer I reached out on Twitter to my wine friends for some assistance. Wine blogger Bill Eyer made the suggestion that I call on his friend Maxine Colas in Bordeaux, who could give me some direction. When I tell you about our visit, you won’t believe how glad we are that we did…
I sent a quick note to Maxine and she got right back to me with a number of questions to help me plan my trip. You cannot believe how surprised I was that someone I didn’t know on the other side of the ocean was willing to help me. After a number of notes back and forth we arrived in Bordeaux. (She also helped us find our inn and gave restaurant recommendations too.) She was so very kind enough to set up two wine tastings in the St. Emilion area. In France, they don’t have “tasting rooms” like in the United States where you can simply walk in. They require reservations or be part of a tour group and most require that you know someone to do either. Thank you Maxine.
We were so fortunate to be given a personal tour of the beautiful countryside Chateau Landereau. When we arrived, Maxine was there to accompany us and help with the language barrier. Again, thank you. My husband speaks French but I do not. Maxine went out of her way again and again to assist us and make our trip memorable.
Let me preface this with saying the winemaker, Bruno and his sister Hélène were amongst the most gracious and kind people I have had the pleasure of spending an afternoon. They couldn’t be more generous with their time in answering questions and showing us their operation. Bruno wanted to take us on a tour in the golf cart around the vineyard but there had been such a storm overnight we were worried of getting stuck!
Located in the heart of the Bordeaux appellation of L’Entre-Deux-Mers, Chateau Landereau is a charming chateau growing 60 hectares of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec and 20 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. Bruno’s grandfather and father started growing in 1959 and Bruno took over in 1988. Loosely translated L’Entre-Deux-Mers means “between two seas”.
Now, for the wine! Bruno invited us into his home for the tasting. When we entered the sitting room they already had the wine bottles lined up and ready along with bread and small bites. It was heaven. We tried seven, yes seven wines that day: 2012 La Vie En Rosé, 2012 Entre-Deux-Mers (white), 2012 Bordeaux Superior, 2012 Bordeaux Claret, 2010 Bordeaux Prestige, and two from the L’Hoste label, Rouge and Blanc Sec. To say this was thrilling is not enough. First to be invited into their home and to be treated so warmly and with such hospitality and then to be treated to such an array of top quality and delicious wine, it was a day we won’t forget.
We spoke about so many things that wine people find important: quality over quantity. For instance, for the Prestige he uses about 8-10 well-worn oak barrels and each comes out different from the next. We discussed the status of “Grand Cru” and how many chateaus are making this quality of wine for very affordable prices. Everyone unanimously agreed that 2010 was the best vintage Bordeaux experienced since 1982!
I had actually tried the rosé as an aperitif at a local restaurant the evening before and loved it — and how happy was I to be able to say I had already tried one of their wines! I am not exaggerating when I say that every one of these wines was excellent. The quality of the grapes, the process and most importantly the winemaker was in every sip.
Bruno’s passion for his wine shone through his humble nature; It was apparent that he was extremely proud of his work and was genuinely interested in knowing how we liked his wine. Me?! A novice. Now it was my turn to be humbled. And thrilled. He spoke like a farmer of his land. The one thing that was conveyed again and again in our conversation is how much dedication and love it takes to create wine. He mentioned the phrase “simple pleasures” many times during our time together. The simple pleasure of creating something of merit, of sharing with friends, of standing behind your work.
At the end of the hours (!) of touring, tasting and chatting, I wanted to go back to their office to purchase some of the amazing wines we just tried when Bruno handed me a package with six bottles of his Cuvée Prestige. Just wow.
If you are looking to tour the Bordeaux region, contact Maxine Colas. She can steer you in the right direction in terms of wine tours and classes throughout the Bordeaux region and beyond. Her contacts are far flung. And you must, MUST make a mention of Chateau Landereau and how you must go for a tasting.
Huge and belated thank you’s to Maxine, Bruno and Hélène. Your warmth and kindness were so very appreciated.
Stay tuned for a proper review of the 2010 Prestige this fall!