Coming to Bordeaux? What to expect on a SIP Private Wine Tour

 I would love to show you around this wonderful wine region that has been my home and play field for over 30 years now. Never has there been such a dynamic and exciting time to visit this classic but progressive region.

I will be organising your individual itinerary. Thirty years as a wine professional in the region enables me to open doors and offer you a unique insider’s authentic view of Bordeaux.  It will be a fun, informative experience you will never forget and quite different to the other wine tours of Bordeaux available. We do had a number of professional winemakers from Santa Barbara, Washington State, Napa Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and Marlborough in New Zealand for who we have organised extensive wine tours in the last year or two. Also Sommeliers and those studying for the Master Sommelier and WSET exams are very happy with our close contact with the winemakers approach.

My wine background is quite unique with its broad but intimate experiences in the wine trade that span 30 years including now my own wine property in St Emilion – see my biography below (arriving in 2CV).

As each itinerary is handmade, I can incorporate any particular Bordeaux favourites that you may have or areas of special interest such as biodynamics.

I like to visit three properties per day of a range of styles to show you some of the different aspects involved in Bordeaux vine growing and wine making. Most of my favourite properties are still family-owned, most are classified and all produce great wine. I like to include if possible a smaller independent producer (SIP) where we can meet the winemaker to see the ‘other side’ (there are 7000 properties in Bordeaux and only around 200 of them belong to the elite group called the Grand Cru Classé).

The D2 Route de châteaux in the Medoc

The two main regions to see are the Medoc on the Left Bank and St Emilion/Pomerol on the Right. They are located around 45 minutes from Bordeaux city which makes a good base to stay for wine tours. They take a day each to visit.  A third day would normally include the Graves/Pessac Leognan regions (dry white and reds) and Sauternes (sweet wines) which is a often overlooked but wonderful place to visit too. Otherwise there is the option of a day to the coast to taste oysters or caviar (this would be with François another wonderful wine guide who knows the coast well). Additional activities we can organise is a trip to a barrel makers, country market, cookery classes or food and wine matching tasting. More adventurous can view the vineyards from a hot-air balloon, a small plane or from horse-back.

In the Medoc (Left Bank) I would like to show you an example of the key terroirs in the famous village appellations of Margaux, St Julien, Pauillac, St Estephe. Impressive grand châteaux are located here in the flattish landscape of this peninsular. My favourites include a biodynamic classified Pauillac growth and another in St Julien with bottles dating back to 1815…There are also smaller properties to visit here in lesser known appellations (such as Listrac, Moulis or the interesting Haut Medoc) on the ‘wrong side’ of the border of their famous neighbours (at a fraction of the price).

St Emilion (Right Bank) is a beautiful wine region with its vineyards planted on rolling hills around its medieval village. The properties are smaller here and many are still family-owned. It is known as ‘the hill of a thousand châteaux’ and it is important to visit some contrasting styles from the classified property where we go under the vines in limestone caves and another, which has been ‘organic forever’ and is run by the 14th generation of the same family today who we would meet. We will have time to visit the fascinating medieval town and its cobbled streets and pass through Pomerol where Bordeaux’s most expensive wines are found including Petrus.

Please enquire for the rate per day per person (depending on number of people) for a private tour which includes tailor-made organising and advice, insurance, accompanying on the day by expert wine guide, pick-up and drop-off from Bordeaux centre, transport (not a 2CV!) and visits of three top châteaux per day.

Lunch is in addition (menu usually around 25€pp in a local brasserie) which is paid directly to them with credit card or cash. For an upmarket meal is the Michelin star lunch at Hostellerie de Plaisance in St Emilion (74€pp including 2 glasses of wine – 2 hours, closed Mondays and Sundays) or Château Cordeillan Bages in Pauillac, Medoc (Impromptu menu 45€ or 60€ including 2 glasses of wine – 1 hour only Wednesday to Sunday).

The days are normally 9 to 6.30pm with pickup and drop-off at your hotel within the city of Bordeaux.

Joachim at La Cave Dourthe Shop and Tasting Atelier in St Emilion has a great range of prices and wines from both banks and can organise shipping. He stocks most of the wines of the châteaux we will visit and is cheaper than at the châteaux themselves. He can organise a tasting for you if you like to introduce you to Bordeaux wines from both banks/

He can also organise a simple vigneron lunch accompanied by a tasting with some older vintages there (prices start at 79€pp), an introductory tasting to the Bordeaux wine region or focus in on the Right or Left bank for example.

Another option is for a private introductory tasting is in the historic wine district in Bordeaux (and great to do the evening before your tour) in our private tasting atelier. François will explain the basics you need to know with a five wine tutored tasting (60€pp). Bordeaux born and bred François is a winemaker and wine writer. www.latelierdegustation.com

You may find other articles here on my Bordeaux Wine Blog helpful in planning your trip (with restaurant recommendations and maps and information to orientate yourself).

I have just completed a guide book, ‘Bordeaux Sip by Sip – getting to the heart of Bordeaux Wines’ (Sudouest Editions) which is available from me currently.

Nicolle Croft (00 33 6 81 87 93 94) - Food and Wine Guide & Writer
SIP Wine Blog     SIP Website      Instagram
SIP Private Wine Tours Trip Advisor Reviews click here
*30 years knowledge Bordeaux vineyards & 35 years in the wine trade
*wine writer 'Winetasting' translated into 8 languages 
*teacher of WSET professional wine tasting exams 
*co-founder of wine-searcher.com biggest search engine
*creator of Wine School bbr.com (Berry Bros & Rudd) wine merchants to the Queen 
*St Emilion wine producer beardlachapelle.com
*Wine Guide Book 2020 'Bordeaux Wines Sip by Sip - 
 getting to the heart of Bordeaux wines' Sudouest Editions

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