Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit the Médoc Route des Châteaux
In southwest France, the Médoc region is a must-visit for anyone staying in Bordeaux or who loves wine. Driving the Médoc Wine Route (D2 road), also known as Route des Châteaux, and stopping in beautiful châteaux to sip on the world’s best wine is a wonderful experience to do while in France.
This Bordeaux wine route stretches for 50 km along the Médoc Peninsula, characterized by the bright green and brown vines and the sparkling blue of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Médoc wine region is one of the most iconic wine regions in the world, and there is nothing better than exploring every vineyard and cellar you can find! Go on reading to know more about the Médoc wines and how to plan a day trip or a weekend getaway along Médoc’s Route des Châteaux.
The Médoc Wines
The famous Médoc wines have distinct characteristics that make them world excellent. The Médoc wine region has a unique soil made of gravel, limestone, sand, and clay. This specific mix, paired with the maritime climate, is what renders the Médoc region the perfect place to produce high-quality wine.
The Médoc terroir gives the best nourishment to specific grape varieties that are used to produce red wine. In particular, the grapes cultivated in Médoc are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenere.
Médoc wines have a rich flavor that will surprise you as soon as you taste them. The main aromas you can find in Médoc wines are licorice, redberries, blackberries, and dark cherries. During the wine’s aging process, two more interesting aromas surface: vanilla and roasted coffee.
The Médoc wine region consists of the following eight appellations (AOCs): Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe, Moulis, and Listrac-Médoc.
The 1855 Classification
Bordeaux introduced the classification concept in 1855 under Napoleon III, and it now serves as an expression of quality and prestige worldwide. The Médoc wine region is ruled by this classification from 1855 (Grands Crus Classés en 1855 Médoc & Sauternes), with 60 Crus from the Médoc.
This classification was reviewed only once, in 1973, to promote Château Mouton Rothschild from the rank of Deuxième Grands Cru Classé to that of Premier Grand Cru Classé… thanks to Jacques Chirac, Minister of Agriculture at that time.
While this classification is a synonym of quality, it should be emphasized that a wine or appellation can still be outstanding even if it is not a part of this list. Unfortunately, the states producing excellent wines that started producing later than 1855 have few chances to become Grand Cru.
How to Visit the Route des Châteaux, Médoc
Before heading to the Médoc Route des Châteaux, we recommend visiting the Musée du Vin et du Négoce (41 Rue Borie) or the Cité du Vin (134 Quai de Bacalan), both located in Bordeaux. Both places offer a great introduction to the Bordeaux wine region and its wines, and they are two of the best things to do in Bordeaux.
Here are the two main ways to visit the Route des Châteaux, Médoc:
By Car (Self-Guided Wine Tours & Tastings)
The best way to visit the wineries along the Médoc Route des Châteaux is by car, as it will give you the freedom to get to as many châteaux as you want.
If you don’t own a car in France, you can rent one at DiscoverCars: they offer the best car choices and prices. Click here for our best tips to rent a car in France.
There are many local winemakers open to the public in the Route des Châteaux, Médoc. Here is a list of wineries in the Médoc wine region, which offer tastings and wine tours in French, English, and sometimes also in other languages. Thanks to previous users’ ratings and a Médoc wine map with all the wineries pinpointed, it will be easy for you to make your own Médoc wine tour.
Discover the Best Wine Tours in the Médoc-Route des Châteaux
With a Guided Tour from Bordeaux
Guided tours are a fantastic way to explore the Médoc region. All the tours start from Bordeaux and include the visit of two or three châteaux and wine-tasting experiences.
The Half-Day Médoc Wine Tour will accompany a small group to visit two local estates. During this Médoc wine tour, you will learn all about the wine-making process before tasting the delicious wine produced there – Click here to book this half-day Médoc Wine Tour
You can also opt for the Full-Day Médoc Wine Tour. Visit three Classified Growth or Cru Bourgeois estates along the Route des Châteaux, where you will enjoy the unique wines locally produced. The tour leaves some time on your own for lunch and a short stroll – Click here to book this Full-day Médoc Wine Tour
For a full Bordeaux wine experience, join this Saint-Emilion and Médoc Full-Day Wine Tour, which combines Bordeaux’s two most famous wine regions in one single tour. Spend a day sampling wines at the châteaux and wineries in Saint-Emilion, a UNESCO-listed town, and the Médoc region. The tour will also stop in the gorgeous city of Bordeaux for a picnic-style lunch – Click here to book this Saint-Emilion and Médoc Full-day Wine Tour
Beautiful Médoc Châteaux in the Region to Visit
The Médoc region wouldn’t be as incredible without its stunning châteaux. Unlike the Loire Valley Castles or the Medieval Castles in Dordogne, the Médoc Châteaux are big private mansions built from the 18th century onwards, and they have the particularity to have in-sight vineyards and host the full process of Bordeaux wine production, from grape harvesting to wine bottling.
The “château” concept in Bordeaux is related to wine production, not the building’s history or architecture. In other words: if they don’t do the entire wine production process on-site, these buildings cannot be called “châteaux.”
Visit at least one of these Médoc châteaux for the best wine tour experience!
1. Château Margaux
The worldwide famous Château Margaux is located in the commune of the same name, and it is part of the Margaux appellation in the Médoc wine region. It produces a Premier Grand Cru Classé, according to the official list of Bordeaux wines of 1855.
The origins of Château Margaux date from the 13th century. The current construction dates from the beginning of the 19th century and is built in a neoclassic style. Due to its beauty, Château Margaux is often nicknamed the “Versailles of the Médoc.”
The soil here is a gravel and silt plateau on a layer of limestone or silt on clay. The domain extends 262 Ha, of which 87 Ha are entitled to the Margaux AOC appellation. Eighty Ha are planted with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, with 2% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Twelve Ha are cultivated with Sauvignon blanc to make the dry white Pavillon Blanc, which does not belong to the Margaux appellation (restricted to red wines).
In addition to its Grand Vin, Château Margaux produces a Second Wine, the Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux, and a Third Wine, Margaux du Château Margaux. The Grand Vin Château Margaux (Premier Grand Cru Classé) is produced from vines aged at least twenty years and is made of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, and it is recognized as one of the best wines worldwide.
The visits to the cellars are by appointment only from Monday to Friday. The Château is closed on weekends, public holidays, in August, and during the harvest. For more information and bookings, check directly on their site
Tasting is only for professionals. Wines are directly sold to the Bordeaux merchants, so there are no direct sales on site.
2. Château d’Agassac
Château d’Agassac is a wine estate located in the town of Ludon-Médoc, just fifteen minutes north of Bordeaux. This is one of the first vineyards in the Médoc wine region, and it belongs to the Haut-Médoc appellation.
The first construction was built here in the 18th century. The current Château dates from the 19th century, with the union of the neighbor domains D’Agassac and Pomiès Agassac. The Château and its cellars are listed as French Historical Monuments since 2013.
The soil in the Haut-Médoc consists of alluvial terraces of gravel deposits, light, good for Cabernet, and deep and clay-like, good for Merlot. The vineyards around the Château have a surface of 43 Ha with 50 % merlot, 47 % cabernet sauvignon, and 3 % cabernet franc. The average age of the vines is 25 years.
In addition to its flagship wine, Château dd’Agassac, the domain produces other red wines and a rosé wine. The Château d’Agassac wine is made with 72% Cavernet-Sauvignon and 28% Merlot, and it is a Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, according to the official list of Bordeaux wines of 1932 and a Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel according to the list of Crus Burgeois of 2020.
In the Château d’Agassac there’s a wine shop on-site (Monday to Saturday from 10.30 am to 6.30 pm) in the pigeonnier! It also offers different standard and themed wine tours which end with wine tastings. For more information and bookings, check out its site.
3. Château Giscours
Château Giscours is another of the Médoc Châteaux we recommend, located in the commune of Labarde, near Margaux. The Château is part of the Margaux appellation in the Médoc wine region, and the flagship wine Château Giscours is listed as Troisième Grand Cru, according to the official list of Bordeaux wines of 1855.
The origins of this domain date back to the 16th century. The current construction was built between 1835 and 1845 in a classic-inspired style.
The domain extends 300 hectares, of which 95 hectares are exploited. The current grape varieties of the estate are 60% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The density of the vines is very high (from 8,300 to 10,000 vines per hectare), with an average age of 40 years for more than a quarter of them.
Its main wine Château Giscours is currently produced with 75% Cavernet-Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. In addition to this wine, the domain produces a second wine La Sirène de Giscours, and a rosé wine.
Château Giscours is open from November to the end of March Every day except Sunday and from the beginning of April to the end of October only on weekdays. There’s a shop on-site, and it offers different kinds of private tours in French and English with wine tastings. For more information and bookings, visit its website.
4. Château Lascombes
Château Lascombes is a wine estate located in the commune of Margaux. The Château Lascombes vineyard covers 120 hectares of vines in the Margaux appellation and 10 hectares in the Haut-Médoc appellation. It is currently one of the largest vineyards on the Médoc wine map. Its flagship wine Château Lascombes is listed as Second Grand Cru, according to the official list of Bordeaux wines of 1855.
The current construction is an elegant building in which 17th-century elements mingle with those of the 19th. An English influence in particular, fashionable during that period, can be observed on the upper floors of the residence.
The vineyard is divided into three distinct blocks of more or less the same surface: a gravelly outcrop planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, a block of clay-gravel made up of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and clay-limestone plots, perfect for Merlot.
In addition to its Grand Vin, Château Lascombes, the Château produces a Second Wine, the Chevalier de Lascombes, and a Third Wine, Le Haut-Médoc, from plots listed as Haut-Médoc. The Grand Vin Château Lascombes is produced from vines aged thirty-five years on average and is made of 55% Merlot, 40% Cavernet-Sauvignon, and 5% Petit Verdot.
Château Lascombes offers standard and private tours with tastings (on reservations, more information here). This Château is usually one of the stops of Châteaux of Médoc guided tours by Viator and Get Your Guide. The Château’s shop is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm.
Make a Weekend of It
You can visit the Médoc wine region for a one-day tour, but you could also decide to spend a whole weekend there to have a truly unforgettable holiday!
Go for wine tasting during the day and then stay for the night in one of these beautiful château domains.
1. Château de l’Isle
Open from the end of May to the end of September, Château de l’Isle is a gorgeous 18th-century mansion surrounded by a 6-hectare park with century-old oak trees and tall mulberry trees. It has four guest rooms furnished with an interesting mix of antique and contemporary decor.
The Château de l’Isle also has an outdoor pool and a terrace with sun loungers where you can relax – Click here for more information and pictures
2. Chambre d’Hôtes Le Moulin de Moulis
Le Moulin de Moulis is a B&B immersed in the French countryside. At the same time, Castelnau-de-Médoc train station is only a 5-minute drive from the B&B, which is very easy to get to.
The two rooms available are soundproofed and have a private bathroom. A continental breakfast is served every morning in the gorgeous garden of the facility – Click here for more information and pictures
3. Domaine de Quittignan Brillette
Domaine de Quittignan Brillette is a B&B located in the heart of Médoc. Each room is characterized by a different decorative style, and a continental breakfast is served every morning in the garden.
The facility has an outdoor salted swimming pool, a children’s playground, a tennis table, and a soccer table that you can use to enjoy your time while there.
Upon reservation, guests can enjoy traditional and regional meals on the property – Click here for more information and pictures
4. Château de Meyre – Les Collectionneurs
Château Meyre is an elegant 19th-century mansion surrounded by a beautiful park with a swimming pool.
The nine guest rooms are decorated with tapestries and old furniture, but they offer modern comfort. The château’s vineyards has vines that are more than three centuries old! – Click here for more information and pictures
5. Château du Tertre
Château du Tertre is located in Arsac, and it was built in 1855. The rooms are elegantly decorated and have a view of the vineyards. The Château has a wonderful garden and a furnished terrace where you can spend some time relaxing.
The continental breakfast is served every morning in the outdoor spaces or dining room, which features exposed beams – Click here for more information and pictures
6. Relais Margaux
Relais de Margaux is a Hotel & Spa with every comfort you can imagine! A restaurant, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a bar are among the amazing features that you will find in this 4-star hotel.
After enjoying a buffet or American breakfast, go to the tennis or volleyball court to have some fun before your wine-tasting experience – Click here for more information and pictures