Day Nine: Visit to Le Chai Furtif (The Stealth Cellar) at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

We went back to the hotel, grabbed bikes, and met Mr. Cathiard on the road leading to the Chateau.  We were doing our best to look casual and at home on the bikes – on the very gravelly road with his two enthusiastic dogs bounding along beside us – while we listened to Mr. Cathiard talk about his latest project.

Bob on his bike.
Bob on his bike.

We admit, we were sort of expecting a cellar underground in the forest, so we were listening with great intent as he described the project.  We began to realize what it really was after a few minutes though.  Not really a second label, but a second wine altogether, Chai Furtif was a winery nestled in the woods, built with the highest standards of sustainability in mind.

The Chai Furtif.
The Chai Furtif.
The dogs names were Barrel...
Their names were Barrel…
And Corkscrew.  Perfect.
And Corkscrew. Perfect.

Mr. Cathiard explained that the goal of the project was to be in balance with the forest.  The winery is built in an abandoned quarry, and built of materials that blend with its surroundings.  It’s almost spa-like, with its canopy of trees overhead, making it a very peaceful, serene place.

More art installations.  This one moved.
More art installations.
Forgive us, we can't remember the symbolism of this piece, but it's still really fun.
Forgive us, we can’t remember the symbolism of this piece, but it’s still really fun.

Technically speaking, they spared no expense to make it eco-friendly, with low energy consumption, renewable energy sources and minimal environmental impact in mind.  To that end, they use a unique system to capture the CO2 released during the fermentation, turning it into sodium bicarbonate and rendering this normally harmful bi-product, harmless.  (They have thoughts on what they will also use the sodium bicarbonate for as well – possibly in beauty products.) Everything from the extra insulation in the walls to the low consumption lighting, the solar generated energy, and the regeneration of rainwater to use in their viticulture practices, all feed into the master plan for this very thoughtful cellar venture.

A beautiful vat room.
A beautiful vat room.

Mr. Cathiard sees it as the next generation in winemaking, and we admit, it was a fascinating departure from everything we had seen so far!  At some point, we’ll have to get our hands on the wine produced here so that we can taste the fruit of all of this very diligent – and beautifully designed – labor.

Bob Watt with Daniel Cathiard of Chateau Smith Haut Lafite.
Bob Watt with Daniel Cathiard of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte.

Thank you, Mr. Cathiard, for a wonderful adventure!

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…!

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!