Bordeaux hasn’t been renowned for welcoming wine-interested visitors; buyers, merchants, journalists and other professionals, yes, but it wasn’t that long ago Bordeaux châteaux were forbidden fruit for wine drinkers. This, in an era when many New World estates offer visits, tours, on-site sales, dining experiences (I cringe when I write “dining experience”, but dining on the terrace overlooking the vines is certainly about more than just the food for us wine geeks) and even functions, everything from concerts to weddings, seems increasingly anachronistic.
Times are changing though, and more and more Bordeaux is realising the importance of welcoming the wine-buying and wine-drinking public. With this in mind, Château de Rayne-Vigneau (pictured below) has recently begun welcoming visitors to the estate.
Following an expensive refurbishment of the cellars, the team – led by Vincent Labergére who runs the estate on behalf of owners Crédit Agricole Grands Crus – now welcome visitors who can receive a guided tour of the cellars before making their way to the tasting room to try a small selection of the wines. More importantly, the wines are available for sale on-site – something quite rare in Bordeaux with its long-established system of selling through the Place de Bordeaux, with all its courtiers and négociants, and there is also the option to dine on-site (no doubt with a glass or two of Rayne-Vigneau, or perhaps the dry Sec de Rayne-Vigneau, to wash it all down). The tours are overseen by the newly appointed Élodie Vargas.
One thing that won’t be available is a tour of the rather attractive château, which has remained in private hands ever since 1961, when the proprietor at the time – Vicomte François – sold his vineyard.
The tours cost €7, and this includes a tasting of three wines.