The Route des Châteaux is a bit like the wine world’s version of the map to the homes of the stars. Officially known as D2, it traces the path of the Gironde River northwest of the city of Bordeaux through the Médoc, cabernet sauvignon’s native home, offering a tour of the region’s most prestigious classified growths.
To drive the Route des Châteaux through Margaux, St-Julien, Pauillac and St-Estèphe is to experience sensory overload. You can’t help but marvel at the classical proportions of the neo-Palladian villa of Château Margaux; experience a revelation about Château Latour as you witness how its gravelly vineyards slope toward the river’s edge; or begin to associate the gardens of Château Rauzan-Ségla with the wine’s beguiling floral aromas. Plan your trip in advance. Choose two châteaux you would like to get to know better and book your tastings long before you go.
Tastings are generally by appointment only. To organize a tasting at your favorite producer, go to the winery’s website and click on the contact page. Under the heading “visiting us” will be the email address of the person or department with whom you need to coordinate. Be sure to include your preferred times and dates.
Most of the top houses welcome visitors, including Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Château Gruaud-Larose, Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Cos d’Estournel. If you collect wines from a château that does not have an official public tasting program, see if your local wine shop can help. If they can’t, they may be able to recommend a producer with a comparable style.