Having covered some of the greatest hits of the Left Bank on the first half of our tour, we began our journey on the Right Bank of Bordeaux in the historic town of Saint-Émilion. Saint-Émilion is a world heritage site and picturesque town with quaint wine shops, local jewelers and outdoor cafes offering panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards that take your breath away. With heavy-hitting Chateaux on the days’ agenda, we stayed long enough to get a sense of the town and belt back some espresso before getting back to business (i.e. more wine), starting with the small commune of Pomerol.
Château Le Bon Pasteur was one of the highlights for the group. Located in Pomerol, this Château is owned by none other than the world famous flying winemaker Michel Rolland. This highly regarded estate is very unassuming. We quickly learned that behind the humble-looking exterior lay new and modern technologies in wine-making that are paving the way for the future of wine. Michel’s son-in-law, the handsome and sassy David Lesage, hosted our visit. We enjoyed an extravagant lunch in the Rolland home, accompanied by flight after flight of wine, including samples from different vineyards for comparison. David kept the group highly entertained throughout our stay with his witty remarks and was a hit for all, especially the ladies. Over dessert we had the honour of meeting Michel’s wife, the sophisticated Dany, who came down to see what the hoopla was all about. This stop was hard to top.
After lunch we travelled the short distance (read: not long enough to calm the giggles) to the peak of Saint-Émilion, to the legendary Chateau Cheval Blanc. This property was purchased by the luxury goods group Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMC) in 1998 and is considered, along with Chateau Pavie, to be one of the top two properties of this commune. The wines from Cheval Blanc, which are Cabernet Franc dominant rather than the classic Merlot based wines of its’ neighbours, are decadently opulant – fitting for its new owners. We toured the property and winery and left hoping that we will someday have the fortune (literally) to enjoy another glass of this wine.
Château Pavie, classified as a Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) in Saint-Émilion is one of the most technically advanced wineries in Bordeaux. We spent our afternoon with Henrique da Costa, the winemaker and son in law to owner Gérard Perse. Since purchasing the winery in 1998, Perse has produced more modern-styled big, fruity wines, pleasuring the palate of the likes of Robert Parker Jr., who recently awarded some Pavie vintages with 100 points. A controversial property to say the least. These wines have a balance of remarkable power and polished finesse. The property embodies modernism, with state of the art equipment to handle the single plot fermentation, a barrel cellar that is both beautiful and efficient, a sophisticated sound system so classical music can soar through the winery, “talking” to the wines, and an art collection Christie’s would envy.
After we tasted these amazing wines, Henrique escorted us to his father-in-law’s Michelin two star restaurant, Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint-Émilion, but not before he graciously allowed for us gals to freshen up in the Chateau ‘powder room’. After a quick costume change, we were ready to indulge ourselves on what we consider to be one of the greatest meals we will ever experience. How does a nine-course tasting menu paired with wines from the Perse Chateaux, including Chateau Monbousquet and Chateau Pavie grab you? It was, in a word, stunning. (co-written)