When visiting the Bordeaux wine régions the best is to have your own private guide to put a super itinerary together to show a good mix of properties, get you there smoothly and to fill you in on all the background information, politics and explain the confusing terms seen on the wine labels.
Or you could do it yourself. I am happy to give the names of the best places to get an all round experience as you say (it does not matter which order you do them in). There are only 200 top chateaux (GCC= Grand Cru Classé or equivalent) and 8000 other properties where the wine is made by passionate small producers (those with soil on their shoes. It is important to see a mix of châteaux in Bordeaux to get a true picture to the wine region and get to meet the winemaker face-to-face! For more information on SIP (Small Independent Producers) and my list of great value Bordeaux.
Bordeaux is a beautiful city and the best place to be based as it is equ-idistant to the wine régions. Some châteaux charge around 12€pp visit/tasting fee. You only taste one or two wines at each château. Three is the perfect number to do in one day so it is possible to drive yourself. You just need to know where you are going and allow enough time to get there!
Day 1: Medoc – *Pontet Canet (biodynamic) GCC Pauillac, Lynch Bages GCC Pauillac (20€pp private tour, antique winery too), *Gruaud Larose GCC St Julien (20€pp private tour), Leoville Poyferré GCC St Julien 12€pp, Prieuré Lichine GCC Margaux 8€pp, d’Issan GCC Margaux 10€pp, Rausan Segla GCC Margaux 10€pp
Lunch at Le Bon Temps (Cussac Fort Medoc near to St Julien) in the week and Café Lavinal (in Bages part of Lynch Bages estate near to Pauillac) at the weekend
Day 2: St Emilion – Beausejour Becot Premier Grand Cru Classé 15€pp (on limestone hill), Figeac Premier Grand Cru Classé (on gravel)15€pp, de Pressac Grand Cru Classé (beautiful view to east or region) 8€pp, Fonplegade for a very complete ‘american’ tour and tasting of pomerol too 30€pp, Coutet Grand Cru for an authentic family tour 8€pp
Lunch in the magnificent gardens of Château Siaurac a beautiful place in Lalande de Pomerol, five minutes from St Emilion. A private chef will prepare a light seasonal meal with a comarative tasting of the owner’s three top wines; their Pomerol (neighbour to Petrus), their St Emilion from the limestone plateau and Siaurac itself from Lalande de Pomerol.
Or at La Terrasse Rouge brasserie overlooking Cheval Blanc and Pomerol.
Day 3: Graves and Sauternes – Pessac Leognan: Haut Bailly GCC (red only), Latour Martillac GCC, Smith Haut Lafitte GCC (also barrel coopers)
Lunch at Château de Cerons Grave white, red and the rare sweet Cerons wine! Picnic in the grounds of the private 18th century chartreuse (help yourself to tins of foie gras, rillettes, bread, fruits ….)
Sauternes: Haut Bergeron for a small wonderful Producer, d’Yquem for the most expensive …
For more ideas of the best châteaux to visit in Bordeaux