Bordeaux and its surrounding vineyards in southwest France, is a dreamland for me. It sacrifices nothing: the most revered wine, stellar cuisine, chateaux in droves, and French sensibility. For 36 hours one June weekend, we feasted with our eyes and tastebuds through vast vineyards and Michelin-starred restaurants. I loved every minute exploring the cobbled and sloped walkways in our small town, St. Emilion, and savored evenings on the terrace at the lovely Hostellerie de Plaisance. Our adopted home was full of charm with historic substance and the best service we’ve ever experienced in Europe. We didn’t have a lot of time to visit multiple vineyards, as each appointment is typically over an hour long, complete with a personal tour and tasting. We chose strategically, experiencing two vineyards, each with its own distinct personalities. First was Chateau Grand Mayne, a beautiful boutique winery in St. Emilion, and the second one, much larger, folds out into a beautiful story.
Nestled in rolling vineyards atop a gentle slope is the family-run Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, a producer of superb red and white wines whose history dates back to 1365. The vineyard takes exquisite care of each step of the wine-producing process, from honed techniques of nearly all-organic growing processes to having their own barrel maker who works with tasters to cater each piece of wood to a desired taste of wine. The estate hosts a luxury inn, two restaurants including the decadent and delicious La Grand’Vigne which has the distinction of two Michelin stars, and a spa. The beauty brand Caudalie is part of what makes the chateau so special as it utilizes the rich resources of grape by-products in production of the line. Even the name ties into the equation, the word Caudalie is derived from the word caudal (tail), this is the unit used to measure the the persistence of a wine’s finish, with one caudalie representing one second.