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Bordeaux Wine Region

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Last updated: 19 April, 2024

A must-see for wine lovers from around the world, Bordeaux’s fabled wine estates are fascinating to explore.

There’s plenty to discover (and taste): the region is divided into 57 appellations, with over 8,500 wineries (or châteaux) producing some 800 million bottles a year.

Some 89 percent of these are red wines, including the legendary, stratospherically priced Grands Crus or ‘First Growths’ of the Médoc, Graves and Saint-Emilion. Meanwhile, the sweet, golden Sauternes rules the whites.

The most famous appellations

Close to Bordeaux, the flat, gravelly Medoc area produces the greatest red wines in the world: half of its sales are prestigious Grands Crus Classes, sold under appellations such as Pessac-Leognan, Margaux, Pauillac and Haut-Medoc.

The Saint-Emilion area’s wines – a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon – have their own classification system and are grown in the prettiest Bordeaux area – the lovely town of Saint- Emilion itself.

Sauternes, whose namesake wine is the classic pairing to foie gras, is made from Semillon grapes, which develop their famous botrytis cinerea, or ‘noble rot’, in the autumn mist.

This area is home to the legendary Chateau d’Yquem wine, Bordeaux’s only white Premier Grand Superieur; the best vintages of which are aged for over a century.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Chateau Coutet

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Exterior of Chateau Coutet buildings in the afternoon sunshine

Experience

A welcoming estate in the Sauternais, where you can learn all about noble rot and its complex, sweet white wines.

Adult price: £17

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Chateau Fombrauge

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Chateau Fombrauge shown from above on a sunny day

Experience

A Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe winery that has been making wine since 1599, with tours, tastings and rooms to stay in.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Chateau Kirwan

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Exterior of Chateau Kirwan, with trees, trimmed hedges and lawns

Experience

This beautiful Grand Cru chateau in Margaux, one of Bordeaux’s most prestigious areas, has tastings, meals and even helicopter tours.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Chateau Mouton Rothschild

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

External facade of the building and the gated entrance

Experience

World-famous winery in Pauillac where labels feature the work of Miro, Picasso and Chagall – your ticket includes entry to its Museum of Wine in Art.

Adult price: £57

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Chateau Pape Clement

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Historical building with decorative flowerbed and green lawn

Experience

This Grand Cru vineyard in Pessac-Leognan was first planted by a future pope in 1252, and offers a wide range of tours.

Adult price: £5

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

Chateau Cos d’Estournel

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Chateau Cos d’Estournel

Experience

Medoc’s most exotic chateau – inspired by the Sultan’s palace in Zanzibar – makes superb wines in its high-tech gravity-flow cellar. Tours are available by appointment; there’s also an option for a gastronomic lunch.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

  • Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Saint-Emilion

Experience

Saint-Emilion

This beautiful hill town produces some of France’s finest red wines, in rolling hills so well-tended over the centuries – a region deliminated by Edward I in 1289 and unchanged to this day.

In 1999 UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site as ‘an outstanding example of a historic vineyard landscape that has survived intact and in activity until the present day.’

Besides Saint-Emilion’s pale stone beauty, its vines and its wines, there’s plenty to see: historic churches and cloisters, town walls and towers, and lovely squares – not to mention a fine array of boutiques, wine bars and restaurants.

Some of its star attractions are underground – from wine cellars to a unique 12th-century church.

Good for age: 18+

Logistics

Price from: £40
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Unlike some French wine regions, Bordeaux’s chateaux are generally not open without a reservation. Organised tours will obviously organise access and logistics.

You can visit independently – some cellars charge for tours and tastings, others are free – and of course there are lots of wine tour operators to choose between.

The Bordeaux tourist office has a designated department to help independent travellers book chateau visits and transport for a small fee (email viti.vini@bordeaux-tourisme.com) with tastings paid for onsite. Taste all you like – you don’t have to worry about driving home.

Bordeaux’s world-famous Grands Crus are expensive, so you want to be sure you’re buying a wine you really like. Before you go to the wine region, visit the high-tech Max Bordeaux wine gallery, where you can sample a sip from 48 of the finest bottles – each of which has been allowed to breathe to perfection.

Also, download the free ‘Smart Bordeaux’ iPhone app providing detailed information on every Bordeaux label and grower. You can scan bottles in shops for instant info.

If you want to stay in the region, try the sublime Le Relais de Franc Mayne, an intimate boutique hotel on a famous Saint-Emilion wine estate, 40 minutes from Bordeaux. Stays include free wine tastings and tours of the chateau’s ancient quarry cellars.

When to do it

Go to Bordeaux any time from April, when the vines sprout their first leaves. September is harvest time, which can be fun but very busy, while October’s autumn colours are magical. Most Bordeaux chateaux are open to visitors all year round, usually Monday-Friday, during working hours. Check directly with the chateau to confirm opening times.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Bordeaux

Enjoy an afternoon of French wine tasting in either the Medoc or St-Emilion wine region on this small-group tour from Bordeaux. Visit two wonderful French châteaux and enjoy tasting different wines accompanied by a typical French platter of local bread, cheese and cured meat. End your afternoon with sightseeing and a wine workshop where you’ll learn some expert wine-tasting tips.

Price €105

Min age 4

Rating 4.70 / 5 [857 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Bordeaux

Join this day trip to the Saint-Emilion (and surrounding) wine-making region of France. This full-day guided excursion from Bordeaux offers picturesque scenery, sightseeing and fine wines – the perfect day out from the city! Sample Bordeaux wines in 3 fascinating chateaux and explore the charming UNESCO World Heritage-listed village of Saint-Emilion.

Price €155

Min age 18

Rating 4.82 / 5 [804 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Bordeaux

Join this tour from Bordeaux to discover the beautiful medieval village of St Emilion. Start the tour with a visit and wine-tasting session in a grand cru estate of St Emilion or in a Carefully selected Winery of Pomerol. The village of St Emilion is named after a Breton monk from the eighth century whose followers started wine production in the area, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a beautiful place to spend a couple of hours. Have free time to walk along the original city walls and climb the steep cobblestone streets. Return to Bordeaux.

Price €98

Min age 18

Rating 4.61 / 5 [789 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Bordeaux

- FROM APRIL TO OCTOBER - Join us on an experience of a lifetime in the most beautiful wine region in the world : Saint-Emilion. Visit 2 historic Châteaux, followed by tastings of their wines. With around 900 vineyards in just Saint Émilion alone, you will have the chance to discover most of the region on our fun and easy to use ELECTRIC BIKES. You will taste a number of wines through the day to help you appreciate and understand the quality and diversity of this unique region. After building up a well earned appetite, you'll have a chance to relax and get to know your fellow explorers during a tasty prepared picnic lunch by your friendly guide. At the conclusion of the final tastings in the ancient town of Saint-Emilion we will take you on an intriguing guided tour of the UNESCO town of Saint-Emilion. We will enjoy short stops during the tour to give you the chance to capture some memorable photos before making the short trip back to Bordeaux.

Price €174

Min age 18

Rating 4.95 / 5 [510 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Bordeaux

Discover the diverse flavors of Saint-Emilion on this 5 hour and 30 min-small-group food and wine tour from Bordeaux. Explore the medieval streets of Saint-Emilion with your guide and gain insight into centuries of colorful French history. Visit wineries and cellars throughout the area, and sample wines made from grapes such as merlot and cabernet franc. Compare local wines with those from across the world at a Grand Cru winery, and enjoy an additional glass of wine served with a typical French aperitif! You will receive personalized attention from your local guide on this small-group tour, limited to eight people.

Price €110

Min age 18

Rating 4.88 / 5 [402 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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