Graves and Sauternes

The Graves and Sauternes vineyard was planted by the Romans in ancient times and is the oldest Bordeaux vineyard!

A wide strip of the perfect blend of flint, pebbles and rocks form the perfectly-draining soil that grows 4 prestigious appellations: Graves, Pessac-Léognan, Barsac and Sauternes. Between the Landes forest and river, the expansive views give a glimpse of the many heritage gems whose names spark your imagination and bring back its flourishing past. The stars in this historical and hilly area were Bertrand de Goth, the first Pope of Avignon, Queen Margot at Château de Cazeneuve and Montesquieu in his Château de La Brède home.

 

Feast your eyes

Snapshot of the Graves and Sauternais appellation

Let’s get to the heart of the matter and get a bird’s eye view! Take your seats for take-off in the middle of the Château Vénus vines to visit the Graves and Sauternais appellations. A bird’s eye view of the vines is certainly a different way to drink in the land and see another side to it: a château here, the Ciron there (which is one thing that makes Sauternes so unique), what a place! You have a whole host of options so you can get a real overview of the vineyard, landmarks, Arcachon Bay and Saint-Émilion which look even more fabulous from up here.

Château d’Yquem

It’s famous the world over, it’s one of the crown jewels in French vine growing and the only Premier Cru Supérieur Classé of Sauternes and Barsac, nothing more! The pretty golden glints from its bottles draw you in for a visit or just to gaze at the setting, a must-do in the Sauternais region.

Château de La Brède

Not had your fill of history? Then we recommend you visit Château de La Brède, once home to the famous philosopher Montesquieu. The moat around the castle is a sight for sore eyes and makes it feel like a real fortress! Once you’ve got over the moat and inside the château, you can easily picture the philosopher writing in the cosy space that has been left untouched for almost 300 years.

The town of Bazas

Graves and Sauternes isn’t just a region that’s bursting with history, just take a look at its architecture: Bazas Cathedral on the Vezelay Way is a hotspot for Camino de Santiago pilgrims. It was built between the 13th and 14th century towering over the entirely paved main square in Bazas surrounded by beautiful traditional houses. Visit on Saturday when the market comes to Bazas!

Château de Roquetaillade

It’s a different vibe at Château de Roquetaillade: it’s the archetype for a fortress with its moats, tall square keep and crenellated towers. It was restored by the illustrious Viollet-le-Duc and countless films have been shot here: Fantômas starring Louis de Funès, an episode of Highlander and Brotherhood of the Wolf.

Château de Cazeneuve

Let’s end this short and sweet tour on a royal note: Château de Cazeneuve in Préchac where Queen Margot’s spirit still reigns over this Navarre Kings’ property. The Renaissance-style building with its mullion windows has held onto its luxurious furnished royal apartments.

Fun fact time

Here’s a spot of culture to tell you the story behind dessert wine.

It was invented by a German called Frederick Focke whose protestant community had been living here in the region for years. He had the bright idea of using the “late harvest” technique on La Tour Blanche grapes which produced dessert wine and saw the Château become a Sauternes Premier Grand Cru in the 1855 classification. Dessert wine was born. Château La Tour Blanche, 2020 winner in the Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences category at the Best of Wine Tourism, now provides introductory tours, foodie tours, “apéros dorés” with tapas platters and glasses of Sauternes as well as carriage rides.

Got a head for heights? That’s lucky because you’re heading to the top of the 100 year old cedar tree in the Château Rayne-Vigneau grounds for a treetop tasting to drink in panoramic views of the vineyard and Ciron Valley.

What’s on?

There’s a million ways to experience the vineyard and here in South West France, it’s all about getting together. Obviously we love the Appellations Open Doors weekend where wineries welcome visitors for one-off tastings, tours and activities: good times guaranteed! But did you know that you can run through some wineries on a unique autumn marathon too? La Raisin d’Or blends a trail, tour and children’s run. The Bordeaux Wine Route in Graves and Sauternes sets the scene for Paille et Ripaille, the biggest wine and cheese fair in Langon packed out with small producers. Large tables appear on Saint-Macaire’s medieval village square on summer nights to share local market produce: foie gras preserves, cheese, wine etc.

You can feast your ears at the Léognan Jazz and Blues Festival and the Lubat band’s Uzeste Festival. The traditional sound of Les Fifres de Garonne echoes through Saint-Pierre d’Aurillac, Les Festes Baroques ring out inside wineries and world music is in full swing at Les Nuits Atypiques in Langon. Performers set the stage alight on the Château de Villandraut courtyard for Les Journades theatre festival. Theatre, music, markets, races, feasts or small get-togethers, anything goes for soaking up South West France’s social atmosphere.

Get a taste for it!

The Graves and Sauternes area sets the scene for a heartwarming experience in places like theLalique restaurant at Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Bommes. A fabulous setting, tableware, design and Michelin-starred chef come together to give you a feast for the senses. Maison Claude-Darozze restaurant in Langon brings you local seasonal dishes with a fine dining twist which have also been awarded one star by the Michelin Guide. The AOC (designation of controlled origin), made up of red, dry white and dessert wine, has everything you could wish for to put together exciting food and wine pairings, here are a few to whet your appetite: serve Lillet, a blend of wine and fruit, as an aperitif with a slice of orange and a little tonic. Pan-fried foie gras with apples is the perfect match for a white 2009 Graves. We’d recommend a red 2020 Graves to wash down a Bazas rib steak. Last but not least, serve goat’s cheese or even oysters with a dessert wine. Your palate will love the pairing.

Pamper yourself

Me-time is precious and what could be better than indulging in the vines’ goodness at the Sources de Caudalie spa at Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte. A canoe ride down the Ciron River before chilling out by Hostens Lake after a picnic under the pine trees is always a winner among nature lovers. That’s what’s great about Gironde: you’re never far from the vineyard or water.

Check out our Graves and Sauternes wine tasting selection

Must- do

We literally fell in love with Château Pont Saint-Martin and its owner Léa. The eye-catching Neo-Palladian villa in Graves and Sauternes will blow you away!

AOCs