Plan a tailor-made experience in Bordeaux’s wine country with our local experts.
The Graves is known as the ‘cradle’ of fine Bordeaux. It was here from Middle Ages that the grand and aristocratic families owned large estates, often hunting estates, where they produced wine as part of mixed agriculture. They hunted in the nearby forests, then not far from the city. Today, you can still discover medieval castles hidden amongst the woods and vines on a wine tour of the region.
In the 17th century they began making a new style of wine known as ‘The New French Claret’, destined for the English market. Since 1987, the Graves has been divided into two appellations: Graves to the south, and Pessac-Léognan to the north (taking its, rather unpronounceable, name from two villages in the region). This region is known for the quality of both its red and white wines. Graves is the only region that has a dry white wine classification, introduced in the 1950s, all the members of this classification are today found in the Pessac-Léognan appellation.
The diversity of soils here allows for the planting of a range of grape varieties, the true Bordeaux blend. Layers of gravel brought by the Garonne River, interspersed with clay washed down by smaller rivers and streams mean both Cabernet and Merlot flourish alongside the white Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. This balanced blend between Merlot and Cabernet produces wines that, while enjoying the structure and elegance of Cabernet, have the accessible fruitiness and early drinking potential of Merlot. The whites are an elegant blend of Sauvignon Blanc for freshness and aromatic complexity with the rich and smooth weight of Semillon, which, when vinified and aged in oak have the complexity to allow them to mature well.
Being so close to Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan has embraced wine tourism. Chateau Pape Clement is an urban vineyard, where you will receive a warm welcome and large choice of activities, full hospitality for an overnight stay in a chateau or even the privatisation of the property for a complete French chateau experience. Further south another classified growth, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, will allow you to discover their love of contemporary art alongside the art of red and white wine making.
Get all our exclusive travel inspiration and tour packages straight to your inbox!