Chef Nicolas Masse has made Les Sources de Caudalie, the charming hotel developed by the Cauthiard family, on the Smith-Haut-Lafitte wine estate outside Bordeaux, one of Aquitaine’s great gastronomic destinations.

Since La Grand’ Vigne, Masse’s headline table, also showcases the Cauthiard’s superb wines, his challenge has been to create a sophisticated menu based on regional produce and culinary traditions that will also serve as a perfect foil to the estate’s wares. This is more complex than it may first seem, as Smith-Haut-Lafitte wines are so elegant that the food needs to partner with them graciously and gallantly, without being too dominating.

This means that Masse can dare the simplicity of a starter such as rolled carpaccio of veal with Aquitaine caviar or the earthier but carefully balanced flavours of a dish like chestnut gnocci with cep mushrooms. The main courses display a similar finesse and include wild turbot with butternut squash and chanterelle mushrooms, and roasted pigeon with vegetables smoked over sarments – dried vine trimmings from the surrounding vineyards that create a gently resinous flavour when burned.

The beautifully made desserts include an orange tart with Aquitaine-grown saffron and a refreshing meringue featuring pineapple and tropical fruits.

Service in the orangery-styled dining room is courtly and alert, and during the winter months, the most sought-after tables are those near the wood-burning fireplace.

Smith-Haut-Lafitte, 33650 Martillac, Tel: +33 5 57 83 83 83. Open daily for lunch. Dinner weekends-only. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays. Menus €65 and €95. Average à la carte €90.

From France Today magazine

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Alexander Lobrano
Alexander Lobrano grew up in Connecticut, and lived in Boston, New York and London before moving to Paris, his home today, in 1986. He was European Correspondent for Gourmet magazine from 1999 until its closing, and has written about food and travel for Saveur, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Travel & Leisure, Departures, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He is the author of HUNGRY FOR PARIS, 2nd Edition (Random House, 4/2014), HUNGRY FOR FRANCE (Rizzoli, 4/2014), and MY PLACE AT THE TABLE, newly published in June 2021.

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