Only a 40 minute drive from Bordeaux airport, Château Cordeillan-Bages is a remote gold-stone hamlet restored by the Cazes family in 1989, nestled between two hectares of vineyards in the Médoc region just south of Pauillac on the left bank of the Gironde Estuary.
This former chartreuse is closely linked to the fifth growth Grand Crus Classe, Château Lynch-Bages, which has been owned by the Cazes family since 1939.
On arrival, a series of pristine Ferraris were parked outside the hotel of various colours, pointing at the sort of well-heeled clientele that stay there, hopping from one vineyard and one château to the next through the vast French countryside all summer long.
THE PACKING EDIT
An aura of prestige runs through the estate from its exterior. The driveway is a long stretch, bending on a slight curve toward the grand doorway of the chateau. Inside, wine bottles of various shapes and sizes are dotted around the hotel dating back to the 1990s. Newspapers and magazines are also sprawled around the lounge area located in the downstairs as well as various selected pieces of contemporary artwork by Pierre Alechinsky, Tan Swie Hian and Antoni Tàpies.
The laid-back 25m outdoor pool is just the place to grab a glass of Lynch Bages as the sun sets ahead, right before a Michelin-starred dinner in the hotel grounds.
A modern bathroom meets a more traditional chateau vibe in the spacious double rooms. There’s a transparent glass wall that frosts over for privacy, and the large shower head is an indication of the Cazes’ contemporary tastes when refurbishing the chateau.
From the various 28 rooms, you’ll be prized with some sort of greenery for a view—be it the courtyard or the front garden filled with ornamental magnolia trees. Oak cupboards and dangling Danish lighting decorate the room against a soothing earthy palette.
Other than wine, oyster tasting is also a casual activity in the Medoc region. You can simply rock up at La Petite Canau farm to discover how the region’s refreshing oysters are cultivated once they’re transported from Brittany whilst enjoying the big wide skies that stretch across the farm. During the tour and tasting, there’s the chance to learn about the logistics behind oyster farming. This particular farm is essentially a weight-gaining farm for the oysters, packing them with enough nutrients to make them plump and meaty.
Different farms favour different flavours which can be achieved through the salt levels of the water they’re soaked in, which is why the oysters of La Rochelle are particularly salty compared to those in the Haut-Médoc region. It’s certainly an alternative date location—sipping wine and eating oysters as the sun slowly sets ahead.In 2010, the Cazes family renovated the nearby village which is peaceful pit stop out of the hotel grounds.
The château welcomed young Michelin-starred chef Julien Lefebvre to lead the way in 2017, at the age of 35. His passion for sourcing natural produce draws in crowds of curious gastronomy lovers to test and taste his contemporary French haute-cuisine. During the early summer months, the Pauillac region is awash with asparagus and strawberries with local producers harvesting their crops, so expect the freshest ingredients. We tried the eight-course tasting menu which started with a decorative pre-amuse bouche on a winding bark-like ornament stippled in canapés. Next came a modest batch of Laurent Hullot’s asparagus with caramelised morels followed by line-caught meagre, a succulent fish served with Noilly Prat sauce.
The tasting menu ended with two creamy desserts that you will somehow manage to devour they’re so spectacular. The pastry chef, Antonin Billot, has somehow managed to achieve the ideal level of sweetness without going too overboard, making two desserts easy as pie. Or pop out to Café Lavinal, which was awarded the Bib Gourmand status last year, for a lazy lunch. Because there’s no such thing as too many oysters. Or wine!
Sipping wine dating back to 1989 for dinner is a norm in a place like Château Cordeillan-Bages. Wine tasting in 18th-century wineries and vineyard picnics are also on the agenda. Booking a tour at Ormes de Pez winery is a must for dedicated wine lovers, who will be introduced to the sequential process of producing such a renowned tipple so synonymous with the history of the Médoc.
Interested in luxury picnicking? This is a new concept by the hotel that encourages guests to enjoy a high-end portable gourmet meal in between chateau stops or cycling trips. The three-course meal comes in medium-sized mason jars to contain the heat and make it easy to dine amidst the sun-dappled vineyards. And in style, bien sûr.
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