Day Nine: A Leisurely Afternoon at Les Sources de Caudalie

Authored by Christina

We had been moving so fast, we hadn’t had time to really enjoy our hotel, except for a few minutes before dinner here and there.  After our visit to Chateau Haut Bailly, we were pleased to spend the rest of the day today exploring at our hotel, the beautiful Les Sources de Caudalie, which had been highly recommended by many people.  Located among the vineyards at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, it was a perfect respite from all the running around we had been doing.

Les Sources de Caudalie.
Les Sources de Caudalie.
Christina at the front entrance of Les Sources de Caudalie.
At the front entrance of Les Sources de Caudalie. (I used the vintage hipstamatic photo app on my phone, which I think adds to the romance of the place.)
Another view of the entrance.
A view of the back entrance.

We enjoyed a light lunch on the terrace, watching the ducks in the pond, and then took a walk around the property, before enjoying a glorious massage at the namesake spa.

A view of the terrace where we had lunch.  Bob didn't use the same app I did for his photos, thus, you get a little of both in our recaps.
A view of the terrace where we had lunch. (Bob didn’t use the same app I did for his photos, thus, you get a little of both types of photos in our recaps.)
Another view of the terrace where we enjoyed a terrific lunch.
Another view of the terrace where we enjoyed a terrific lunch.
The view of the pond from our terrace.
The view of the pond and another guest cottage from our terrace.
So sweet.  Wonder if you could take the rowboat for a ride?
So sweet. Wonder if you could take the rowboat for a ride?
Ready for a conversation...
Ready for a conversation…
A cute nook.
A cute nook.
We never had the time to play a game...
We never had the time to play a game.
But we did have time to grab a glass or two of the Lynch Bages Blanc de Blanc one night.  Yum!  I miss that wine...
But we did have time to grab a glass or two of the Blanc de Lynch Bages one night. Yum! I miss that wine…
Our room was located in this building.
Another building on the property.

Post-rubdown, we luxuriated in the sun by the pool.  Bob ran back to the room to grab some wine – and came back with a split of Krug!  Of course.  For once he didn’t manage to smuggle it over in his luggage – he actually managed to purchase it back when we were in Bages, and chill it in our room, all without me noticing.  This is one of his favorite tricks.

Our room was next to the pool.  The building behind it is the separate spa.
Our room was next to the pool. The building behind it is the separate spa.
It just so happened that our afternoon in the sun was on the warmest day of the trip - lucky us.  It was VERY warm though - unseasonably so.  Little did they know, the heat wave was about to turn to rain though.
It just so happened that our afternoon in the sun was on the warmest day of the trip – lucky us. It was VERY warm though – unseasonably so.  An interesting year for the grapes!
The man and his Krug.
The man and his Krug.

All said and done, I have to say, I much prefer the Krug trick to the one he played next.  We realized our afternoon in the sun had to come to a close, because we had a late afternoon appointment on the property to tour the Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte winery.  Upon arriving back at the room, however, we were missing Bob’s room key.  Where could it be?  A frantic search ensued, as we were already running a wee bit late.

Can you guess where we found it?  In his spa robe pocket, retrieved by the maids after it had traveled down the laundry chute!  Mystery solved, we cleaned up as best we could and ran, breathless to our next appointment…which turned out to be another fun adventure!

We didn't start out on bikes, but we sure did end up on them...!
We didn’t start out on bikes, but we sure did end up on them…!

Day Nine, First Stop: Chateau Haut Bailly

We were warmly greeted at Chateau Haut Bailly by a member of their PR team.  In addition to spending time touring the estate and discussing their winemaking practices, she and Christina also spent some time talking about marketing in Bordeaux.  In particular, the level of international acclaim the region gets, and how the various chateau decide where to spend their marketing efforts.  It’s always an interesting conversation, but generally ends with the same conclusion – the UK is the backbone, the US is the elephant you can’t ignore and China is the darling that they hope won’t ditch them at the ball.  (Our words, not hers!)

Chateau Haut Bailly.
Chateau Haut Bailly.
They had recently renovated some of the buildings.
They had recently renovated some of the buildings.
The front of the chateau.
The front of the chateau.

The Chateau Haut Bailly estate was founded in the 14th century.  The vineyards are planted on limestone and fossilized shells, which gives a unique character to the wines produced here.  The vineyard is also located at one of the highest elevations in the Graves region of Bordeaux.  Chateau Haut Bailly did extremely well in the 19th century, where is was given the classification of “cru exceptionnel” among the Bordeaux Grand Crus Classes.  In the Graves region of Bordeaux, only Ch. Haut Brion and Ch. Haut Bailly were considered at the top.

Today, an American couple, Robert & Elisabeth Wilmers, own Ch. Haut Bailly, purchasing it back in 1998.  Robert Wilmers is currently the CEO of M&T Bank, and his passion for the estate is evident in all of the work he has invested in raising the quality of Haut Bailly’s wines to their former glory.  They have 26 thermal-regulated traditional cement vats for the fermentation process, ranging in sizes from 30 to 120 hectolitres.  The 26 cement vats enable them to ferment the different lots separately.  They definitely had one of the more impressive cement vat installations that we saw on our trip.  They also use modern stainless steel vats for the blending process.

The traditional cement vats.
The traditional cement vats.
The newer stainless steel vats.
The newer stainless steel vat room.

Here’s what we tasted:

From half bottle to Melchiore.  No, we didn't taste all of that!
From half bottle to an 18 liter Melchior (two cases of wine in one bottle).  No, we didn’t taste all of that!

2008 La Parde de Haut Bailly – Very bright floral red cherries, high acid and good mouth-feel.  Medium bodied with a nice structure of fine tannins.  Sweet, spicy red fruit on the medium length finish.  This is a nice 2nd wine.

2008 Haut Bailly – Deep dark ripe spicy blackberry fruit nose.  Smells like a blackberry pie.  In the mouth, very dark delicate black fruit, with very good acidity keeping it lively.  Nice structure of very fine tannins on the long dark spicy black fruit finish.  This is an excellent 2008 Bordeaux wine, beautifully made.  This will also be a great value in comparison to the competition.

We left Ch. Haut Bailly to head back to our hotel nearby for lunch.  It was turning out to be a gloriously warm and beautiful September day…perfect for lounging by the pool!

Bordeaux Bound

Next week, my wife and I head to Bordeaux, sans children – for a highly-anticipated trip of wine tasting (a big thank you to my in-laws for staying with our kids!).

Although those in the industry would call our tour a “death march,” we’re quite excited by the itinerary we have lined up.  The extraordinary team at Bordeaux Saveurs has helped us put together this remarkable tour, complete with a few cooking classes on estates, as well as numerous great meals.

Over roughly two weeks, we will visit:

  • Chateau Phelan Segur
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel
  • Chateau Pontet Canet
  • Chateau Leoville Barton
  • Chateau Lascombes
  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  • Chateau Lynch Bages
  • Chateau Haut Brion
  • Chateau Pape Clement
  • Domaine de Chevalier
  • Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron
  • Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
  • Chateau Palmer
  • Chateau Suduiraut
  • Chateau Y’Qeum
  • Chateau Guiraud
  • Chateau Haut Bailly
  • Chateau Smith Haut Lafite
  • Chateau Troplong Mondot
  • Chateau Angelus
  • Chateau Figeac
  • Chateau Soutard

We will stay at the Cordeillan Bages hotel for the first part of the trip, then in a private apartment in Bordeaux proper over the weekend, and finish out our stay at les Sources de Caudalie, which friends tell us is heavenly.  A big thanks to dear friend and awesome travel agent Kelly Bonewitz at Woodside Travel for her assistance pulling things together – we can’t wait to give a full report on our adventure!

Speaking of which, we have never blogged remotely before, so we’ll have to see how it goes.  Given how much we’ve packed in, the updates will probably happen once we return, jet-lagged and happy…and dreaming of our return!