Jane Anson gives her insider guide to great restaurants owned by Bordeaux châteaux.
Scroll through the list below and click on the titles to see the restaurant websites
This time last year, to coincide with the arrival of tasters, buyers and journalists during the Bordeaux en primeur season, I wrote a piece on the best sommeliers in Bordeaux, and the wine lists to watch in the city. It’s taken more time for the idea of an expanded food and drink offer to make its way out to châteaux, but things are happening, and there are now increasing numbers of estates that have woken up to the benefits of keeping their clients well fed and captive for a little bit longer.
Estates like Haut-Bailly, Carbonnieux, Guiraud and Phelan Ségur were early adopters, engaging chefs to offer private dining for clients, but the chateaux listed here have gone further, and have full restaurants or at least more serious food options.
Pessac Léognan and Graves
For me, this is probably the most successful combo of high end restaurant + bistro + tapas/wine bar from any wine estate in Bordeaux, all part of the Cathiards’ Source de Caudalie hotel and spa. Bar Rouge is the most recent addition, with a wine bar and épicerie, and a lovely terrace with views (you guessed it) over the vines. All Bordeaux wines here, unlike in the two restaurants in the hotel that have excellent and extensive lists. I have had several lovely evenings here, although I got some feedback from wine friends last week that they only had very young vintages in stock, which is not exactly the best way to showcase the potential of Bordeaux.
This is an interesting new group of small hotel and restaurants that is just getting going. Owned by the Miecaze family of Château Leognan, in partnership (at least to some degree) with the Millesime Group, they now Hotel de la Tresne on rue de Cheverus in downtown Bordeaux, La Course chambre d’hote by the Jardin Public and hotel-restaurant Domaine de Raba in Talence). Le Manège has a restaurant service and also a tapas area for aperitifs.
So not actually at the chateau (although Pape Clement does have a wine shop Les Clés du Vin that offers tasting and tapas evenings on a fairly regular basis), but this restaurant in downtown Bordeaux is another increasingly important stop on the gourmet tour of Bordeaux. After a brief start with Joel Robuchon, it is now Pierre Gagnaire who is charge of the food here. You’ll find every single classified estate in Bordeaux on the wine list – a smart move of Magrez in my opinion, simply as a way to get chateaux directors on expense accounts bringing their clients along.
New chef Julien Lefebvre has now replaced Jean-Luc Rocha, who left after 14 years with the Cazes family to pursue a career in Paris, just as Thierry Marx so successfully did before him, but the lovely Arnaud le Saux, chef sommelier, is still there. The offer here is split between the gastronomic restaurant in Cordeillan Bages hotel and the more relaxed Café Lavinal in the village of Bages. I went back to Lavinal last week after its winter break, and to be honest missed a number of bistro classics on the menu (special mention to the Bages Burger), but apparently they are due to be reinstated – Lefebvre was practising his purée skills for the main restaurant before it reopens at the end of the month.
Billed as a wine restaurant, the wine list offers bottles largely from Bordeaux but with a smattering from the Rhône (Hermitage la Chapelle Jaboulet), Burgundy (Hubert Lignier) and Champagne (Philipponnat, Frank Bonville and Clos Cazals). Some interesting blind tasting menus also – where five classified Bordeaux wines are served blind against food matched by the chef. It opened in June and is a useful addition to eating options in the Médoc.
St-Emilion and Pomerol
Run by the team behind La Brasserie Bordelaise in central Bordeaux, this beautifully-located restaurant (designed by Jean Nouvel, with a view over Cheval Blanc) goes for an upscale bistro feel – a long bar, wooden tables, views over the vineyards. Opened in 2014, all ingredients are sourced from local producers across southwest France, and the menu changes regularly. During En Primeur they have different chefs each day, including Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Dutournier. A good mix of Bordeaux and non-Bordeaux wines on the list – well mainly (an extensive choice of) Bordeaux to be honest but a few outside classics like Brocard Chablis and Vacheron Sancerre Rouge.
Gerard Perse, owner of Château Pavie and Hostellerie de Plaisance hotel and restaurant have bought St-Emilion’s favourite restaurant L’Envers du Décor. Located on the same square as the hotel, the aim is for it to offer the more relaxed alternative to the Michelin-starred hotel restaurant – so following the idea of Cordeillan Bages. A new Italian chef who is joining any time now, but the rest of the staff are to remain the same.
Bought by the de Boüard family in 2013 and reopened in 2015, le Logis de Cadène is one of the oldest restaurants in Saint Emilion but has been entirely renovated by Stéphanie de Boüard. Great wine list from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Loire, Spain, Napa, Italy and Germany. They even have Domaine Granmonte, the Thai wine that Hubert de Boüard consults to. Young chef Alexandre Baumard just got his first Michelin star.
Opened in 2013, this was one of the first of the new breed of châteaux restaurants. It received its first Michelin star in February 2016, care of chef David Charrier, and continues to be an exceptional place to eat. Wine list covers all of France and is pretty extensive.
Now part owned by Château Latour’s François Pinault (as of 2014, via his company Artemis), this is one of the best ‘hidden’ places to eat on the Right Bank, especially on a sunny day. Chef Jean-François Robert serves either a gastronomic meal or a ‘Back from the Market’ menu, or you can go for a tasting platter of cheese and hams. There is an attractive converted Orangerie, or the gastronomic meal can be served either in the main chateau or under trees in the park. Last time I was there I watched a table for two being set up for an evening meal in the park, and it looked pretty inviting.
Not exactly a restaurant, but Françoise Lannoye bought this pretty estate in 2007, and offers a cookery school and drop-in uncomplicated lunches. These are basically tasting plates of cheese and cold meats served on the terrace. No reservation needed between April and November. The vineyard has been certified organic since 2015, which somehow makes the food seem even more appealing, and they are about to launch a brunch every first Sunday of the month, starting in May.
Hidden on a back street in St-Emilion, the cloister of the Cordeliers dates back to the 14th century and has an underground cellar where today a sparkling wine is produced. But up above there is a wonderful walled garden studded with crumbling ruins of the cloisters and small tables and chairs. You can buy a rustic picnic hamper of breads, sausages, patés, cheese, and the house sparkling wines. An unusual and brilliant place to eat in St-Emilion.
Pierre Choukround of Chateau La Fleur D’Horus in Pomerol (another organic estate) also owns Les Délices de Roy in St-Emilion that comes highly recommended for easy suppers. Closed from November to early March, so open for the Primeurs.
Plus two that just about qualify…
This hotel and restaurant attached to Château Pomys is closed right now, but I understand it was due to reopen in May 2017. Details were still not clear at the time of writing, though. And, Decanter.com confirmed on the morning of 16 March that the owner of Cos d’Estournel has bought Pomys.
This restaurant on rue des Girondins in St-Emilion is owned by the sister of Pierre Mirande of Château Rose Côtes Rol if that counts…
And outside of Bordeaux…
Haut-Brion has Le Clarence in Paris
Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild are related to the English branch of the Rothschild family at Waddesdon Manor (National Trust) where there are wine cellars and a restaurant
Latour has a new partnership with private member’s club Ten Trinity Square in London.
Cheval Blanc has various luxurious hotels and restaurants in the Alps, St Barths, the Maldvies and soon Paris.
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