France: Bordeaux


Easy reach from the city of Bordeaux - and truly excellent wines
By Jane Anson

This Guide was last updated on 12 May 2010
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Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte

Address: Smith-Haut-Lafitte, 33650 Martillac
Tel: 05 57 83 11 22  Fax: 05 57 83 11 21
Geo-coordinates:  Latitude: 44:44:0N (44.73345)    Longitude: -0:33:32W (-0.55898) 

Florence and Daniel Cathiard were successful first as members of the French national ski team, next as owners of a nationwide chain of sports shops, and then sold up to buy what was an under-performing Bordeaux château. Today, this is one of the reference estates in Pessac-Léognan, making increasingly well-recognised wine, and it makes an excellent visit. Look out for, among other things, the classical statues standing among the vines, the largest underground cellars in Bordeaux and one of the four remaining on-site barrel-making facilities (the others being at Haut-Brion, Lafite-Rothschild and Margaux). The red wine is a cru classé, but for me it’s their white, with its exotic fruit aromas and lilting freshness, that really wins the day. Tours are available daily and the visit ends in the shop where you can buy all their wines, plus Château Cantelys, and Smith-Haut-Lafitte corkscrews, aprons, place mats… a little Napa perhaps, but what is wrong with a little overt consumerism in Bordeaux? And don’t forget that the hotel, Les Sources de Caudalie (see ’Places to Stay’) is owned by the same family, and is right opposite.

Useful information: Tour and tasting available year round in English, French and German. Free for hotel guests of La Source de Caudalie, €7 otherwise. Tours available every day, including weekends, but make a reservation in advance. The tour lasts around an hour and includes a tasting of both their red and white wines. Groups welcome (up to 50 people)./p>


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