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Jun 14, 2022

After a recent trip to the Médoc (the left bank of Bordeaux), I came away with a whole new appreciation for the region. In this show, I share what I learned and my main takeaway is simple: when we are thinking about Médoc, never forget that there are real people behind the bottle you drink and they care what you think about the wine! It's a place of wonder, great modesty, kind people, and exceptional wine. 

Here is the list of SOME of the things I learned! 

  1. Bordeaux is not “over”, “done”, “hopeless” or “doomed” for wine and we need to stop talking about that possibility (me, included). Jean-Baptiste Cordonnier from Château Anthonic in Moulis, and his ideas around agroforestry is proof of that (the podcast with him is forthcoming). As wine lovers, we need to stop buying into the clickbait and know that the Bordeaux many of us know and love will remain. There are people addressing how to adjust to the environment.


  1. Real people live and work in the châteaux!
  • For many of the smaller or medium chateaux, homes have been passed down over generations. Although these people have generational wealth, the chateau are their homes and they run the business from these houses.
  • For Château owned by wealthy people or banks, the homes are more showpieces for the trade or public, but the people who head up the wineries are real people (and they are employees – like working there is their job – so they are regular, working people. Magali Guyon of Château La Cardonne and Anne Lanaour of Château Meyney – are outstanding, fun and very normal people who I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with and could talk about kids, inflation, and culture with easily).

  1. There are quite a few families that moved to Bordeaux after Algerian gained its independence from France. You can read more about that time here. The way they were treated when they came back was not great and some of their families had been in Algeria for more than 100 years, so they missed their homeland. That said, the success many had in Bordeaux was a result of hard work and determination that still shows. Château d’Arsac and Château Fonreaud/Lestage are both owned by people who came from French Algeria and both owners are highly engaged


At Château d'Arsac, Phillippe Raoux started over after being raised in Algeria


  1. There are abandoned Châteaux in the Médoc – even in very nice places! People (generally from outside of France) either invested, thinking growing grapes was easy, or at one point had a family home but could no longer afford the upkeep so they have left the vineyards and the homes to nature.



  1. What is a technical director? The conductor of the Orchestra (or winery! A technical director is in charge of the vineyards and the cellar. They must know everything that is going on both worlds. There is a cellar master and a vineyard manager, but the technical director is in charge of final product, and must coordinate all parts of making the wine.

Magali Guyon, Technical Director at Château La Cardonne


  1. The Chateaux owners are frustrated by their image and they care what normal people think about their wines! They want us to connect with the wines and understand that there are people behind the wines. They are not always savvy with marketing, but they want you to feel welcome to come and visit! (it isn’t snooty, at least where I went but still make sure you wear nice clothes and make appointments ahead of time).


  1. Bordeaux is right near the BEACH! You could easily plan a trip to do wine and beach. Although no one ever discusses it, it’s something to think about. It’s worth visiting! There’s also a forest for hiking.


  1. The FOOD is amazing, especially the seafood. But the veggies are amazing too. Fresh foods, excellent preparation.


  1. Every appellation makes a fantastic wine that is unique. Terroir matters a lot and it varies greatly. There were 10 million year old fossils in the vineyard at Chateau st. Come in Saint-Estèphe, which used to be covered by the sea.


  1. Vintage variation is a real thing – the place has weather and I saw some of it in action.


Related podcasts:

Ep 354: A New Look At Bordeaux's Médoc -- with Château La Cardonne's Magali Guyon


Ep 389: Chateau Doyac and the Diversity of Terroir in the Haut-Medoc of Bordeaux


Ep 391: Édouard Miailhe - Dynamic leader of the Margaux AOC & 5th Generation Owner of Château Siran




My visits:

Château Anthonic, AOC Moulis en Médoc
Jean-Baptiste Cordonnier


Château Siran, AOC Margaux.
With Edouard Miailhe, owner



Château d’Arsac, Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, Margaux,
Philippe Raoux, owner.



Château Chasse Spleen, AOC Moulis en Médoc.
Jean-Pierre Foubet and Céline Villars Foubet, owners.


Château Fonréaud, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, Listrac-Médoc.
Jean and Marie-Hélène Chanfreau   



Château Meyney, AOC Saint-Estèphe
With Anne le Naour, Director



Château Livran, AOC Médoc
Edwige and Olivier Michon, owners.


Château La Cardonne, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, AOC Médoc.
With Magali Guyon, technical director


Château Phélan Ségur, AOC Saint-Estèphe
With Véronique Dausse, director


Château Mouton Rothschild, 1er Grand Cru Classé en 1855, Pauillac.


Château Lagrange, 3rd Grand Cru Classé en 1855.

Château de Côme, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur, AOC Saint-Estèphe
Guy Velge owner, José Bueno Director, and Maud Essertel commercial director.


Château Doyac, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur Haut-Médoc
Astrid and Max de Pourtalès, owners and Clémence their daughter.


Château Gadet Terrefort, Cru Artisan, AOC Médoc
Anaïs Bernard, owner


Thanks to Carole Vidal and Vins du Médoc for sponsoring my trip and for putting up with me for 5 days! 



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