A haven of peace at the gateway to Bordeaux, between the estuary and the Atlantic beaches, in the heart of the Pauillac vineyards, Château Cordeillan-Bages is a wine tourism destination that renews itself between tradition and modernity around its core business: wine.
The Chateau Cordeillan-Bages is a warm, welcoming 17th Century charterhouse in the Médoc region of Bordeaux that makes a strong impression. But since it’s amid some of the most storied vineyards of Pauillac then set out you will, to pay homage to the world’s most renowned wines.
The Chateau is a gracious, low-lying building, just two stories (a chartreuse, in local parlance), with an inviting courtyard. But is it really close to the vineyards, you ask? Do you truly get a sense that you’re in wine country? The vines grow right up to the building—they couldn’t be any closer! Yes, it’s relaxed, but that’s not to say the kitchen isn’t ambitious. The talented young chef, Julien Lefebvre has a lot to live up to—the restaurant has had succeeding chefs who received two Michelin stars. That legacy of accomplishment lives on with Mr. Lefebvre’s striking and modern approach, awarded one Michelin star from his first season. Dishes are composed with a strong visual style, a dramatic presentation and high degree of technical excellence. But the overriding sense here is of pleasure—an appreciation of sensory delight, of foie gras, blue lobster, turbot, vegetables from nearby farms.
The chateau is owned by the Cazes family, who are also the proprietors of Lynch Bages, the famed vineyard in the region. They own many of the wonderful light stone buildings with pale blue painted shutters, that make up the charming town of Bages, a short walk away. The Cazes are your kind hosts in spirit, they have helped restore the town, and they run the excellent Café Lavinal, a lovely brasserie right on the square. Its menu is also overseen by Mr. Lefebvre, and it’s the platonic ideal of the village brasserie you’re looking for in your dreams. This is a perfect place for more straightforward food—curried lamb, a thin, rare steak—and you can pair with wines up and down the scale of decadence.
Easy to reach with a direct TGV from Paris to Bordeaux in two hours, it’s a perfect destination for families and anybody who loves the joys of the French countryside. For wine obsessives, there are courses for beginners and more advanced devotees. Tastings can be arranged, rare bottles procured. This is a place to celebrate things that have been done well for a long time. Being part of that history gives the Chateau Cordeillan-Bages a sense of purpose. And it interprets that storied history in a modern way, with a sense of style and ease, that helps those pleasures endure with grace.