Saint-Émilion
Saint-Émilion. Photo: Fotolia

The Bordeaux wine-growing region is centred on the city of Bordeaux, but extends across the whole of the Gironde department. At 120,000 hectares in total, it is the largest wine-growing region in France and, with the possible exception of Champagne, it is also the most famous. In a normal year, some 700 million bottles will be produced – most, but by no means all, of it, claret. Much of this wine is quite ordinary, but some of it is the best money can buy. There are some 8,500 châteaux in the region, so the following is a very select list of places to go and visit.

[Related articles: Great Destinations in France: Bordeaux Wine Country
Things to See and Do in Bordeaux: A Comprehensive Guide
Where to Stay and Eat in Bordeaux Wine Country]

Saint-Émilion

No wine tourism trip to Bordeaux is complete without making the journey to visit the characterful hilltop village of Saint-Émilion. It’s a haven of pleasing shops, restaurants and, naturellement, plenty of great local wines to try, with a wine school for your education. Website: www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com

La Cité du Vin
La Cité du Vin. Photo: Arnaud Bertrande

La Cité du Vin

A world-class permanent exhibition about the history and culture of wine enfolded within in a bold new piece of architectural design on the banks of the Garonne. It is bound to become the centre-piece attraction for all future visitors to Bordeaux. Website: www.laciteduvin.com

École du vin

École du vin

Start your visit to Bordeaux wine country with a lesson here and you will enjoy your dégustations and bluff your way through wine conversations knowing the difference between terroir, cépages and vendange! Website: www.bordeaux.com/wschool/uk/wineschool

Philippe Starck wine cellar

Philippe Starck

Described as a “blade fallen from the sky”, form meets function close to the heart of Bordeaux in this extraordinary new wine cellar designed by Philippe Starck for Château les Carmes Haut Brion. Website: www.les-carmes-haut-brion.com/nouveau-chai

Château d’Yquem

Château d’Yquem

Arguably the most famous of all the historic wines, the château is now open daily, so you’ve got no excuse not to taste the ultimate nectar of sweet wines, whose lingering after-taste is said to “spread out like a peacock’s tail”. Website: yquem.fr

Château Faugères

Château Faugères

A grand cru classé Saint-Émilion château where exceptional wine is stored in an exceptional cathedral-like chai designed by Mario Botta. This stunning building sits atop a plateau, with a view of the 18th-century château across the rows of vines. Website: www.chateau-faugeres.com

Château La Dominique

Château La Dominique

Also in Saint-Émilion is the fabulous Jean Nouvel-designed chai at Château la Dominique, where lunch at their rooftop restaurant is the perfect spot to savour acclaimed wines and admire the splendid views over the rolling vineyards. Website: en.chateau-ladominique.com

Château Haut Bailly. Photo: Guy Hibbert

Château Haut Bailly

Where the modest scale of the château belies the classy wines on offer. Located on historical terroir of the Pessac-Léognan appellation, it was the first wine-maker to be awarded the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant label by the French state. Website: www.chateau-haut-bailly.com/en

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion. Photo: LARRIVET HAUT BRION

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion

A former gold award winner for Best of Wine Tourism, this is a popular château to visit in the Pessac Léognan appellation, and has been producing wine since 1840. Website: www.larrivethautbrion.fr

Château Pichon Longueville Baron

Château Pichon Longueville Baron

Located in Pauillac in the Gironde department, this is one of the great historic domaines of Bordeaux, famed not only for its wine but for the exquisite architecture of the château. Website: www.pichonbaron.com/en

Château Lynch-Bages

Château Lynch-Bages

A celebrated Médoc domaine where the Cazes family has developed a unique sense of culture and art de vivre, both on the estate and in the nearby village of Bages. Website: www.jmcazes.com/en/chateaulynch-bages

Château Bauduc

Château Bauduc

As featured in Rick Stein’s BBC Two TV programme Long Weekends. The Château is run by Gavin Quinney and the wines it produces are used by both Stein and Gordon Ramsay in their restaurants. Website: www.bauduc.com

From France Today magazine

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