Top Bordeaux Wine Tourism Destination – Chateau de la Dauphine in Fronsac
Bordeaux is on everyone’s list of the world’s top wine touring destinations, and with good reason. With more than 7,000 chateau it is France’s largest wine region and one of its most important. Bordeaux offers white, red, rose, and sparkling wines, with something for everyone to enjoy. Visitors to the area looking to tour a wine chateau would do well to stop at the winner of the 2016 Best of Wine Tourism award, Chateau de la Dauphine in the right-bank village of Fronsac.
Award-winning Wine Tourism packages
Chateau de la Dauphine has a range of affordable wine touring packages, beginning at just 5 euros, which includes a tour of the park -- with views of the vineyards and chateau -- and tasting of two wines. Another fun package includes an “olfactory workshop” with the “Nez du Vin” aroma game. Or a “Yummy Triology” tour with three wines tasted with three savory cupcakes. Tours may also be combined with a poolside picnic or casual summer lunch. The most elegant visit is the Tour and Gourmet Dining package, where visitors can feel like the Dauphine herself by enjoying an elegant four-course lunch in the historic chateau. Visitors wishing for more elaborate tours or lunches are advised to reserve their space in advance by using the form on the website or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A passion to be the best in Fronsac
When the winery was purchased in 2015 by the Labrune family, they had a view to make this the best winery in Fronsac. Today, the vineyards, which are 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, are completely organic with no chemicals used in the grape growing. In a tour by Marion Merker, head of Wine Tourism, I learned that the winery went a step further to be certified as biodynamic. The care in the vineyards extends to the brand new winery, where their gravity-fed tanks were the first in Bordeaux. Hand-sorting, plot-by-plot harvesting, and no pumping are more signs of the care that goes into the winemaking process here. In addition, a commitment to greatness is reflected in the winery’s engaging Michel Roland for the blending of the final wines.
La Dauphine really did stay here!
This historic chateau has a charming claim to fame. When construction was finished in 1850, Maria Josepha of Saxony, the Dauphine of France who was also mother of Louis XVI, stayed here. Today, the original home has been meticulously restored and the winery owns 53 hectares or 130 acres of vines, making it one of the largest in the Libourne area, which is well known for the appellations of St. Emilion and Pomerol.
On the road to St. Emilion
While the city of Bordeaux and some of its famous vineyards lie to the west, Fronsac is right on the east-bound road to the medieval city of St. Emilion, home to famous vineyards and the fascinating monolithic cathedral. Scheduling a visit or lunch at Chateau de la Dauphine makes for a fantastic stop for any visiting wine lover.
Wines of finesse await visitors
When I visited the chateau, I had the opportunity to taste the just released rosé, which had notes of strawberry and a dusting of clove, with good balance and a lingering finish. Moving on to the red wines, the 2014 Delphis was a fanastic value at 10 euros, with good structure in this Merlot-based wine with rich blackberry notes and firm tannins. Marion recommended this wine as a good pairing for duck because of its acidity. The 2010 La Dauphine, the signature wine of the estate, had rich cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors, with leather on the nose. It was a powerful, but smooth, wine that was drinking well and could age for another decade. My guide Marion told me this was a good wine with lamb or rich meats.
After a tour and tasting at the elegant Chateau de la Dauphine, many visitors will avail themselves of a few bottles to bring home. And, luckily for visiting Americans, the wines of Chateau de la Dauphine are also available in the states.