Casual elegance, refined wine comfort at Château Le Pape
By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com
4 February 2016
As most of us #winelovers plan for better weather this spring and summer for trips to wine regions, we seek great places to stay, that combine comfort, elegance and wine nirvana.
So if you are going to Bordeaux, I finally focus on a stay at Château Le Pape, which was included in my recent article published in Meininger’s Wine Business International about Bordeaux wine tourism.
Back in September 2015, I had the honor of being the first-ever guest at this luxurious bed and breakfast – and wine producing château – whose owners took three painstaking years to renovate the 18th-century chartreuse, so as to create an as authentic “in the vineyard” experience as possible. And very conveniently located from both Bordeaux’s main train station and airport.
When Robert G Wilmers, owner of the famous Château Haut Bailly, purchased Château Le Pape in Léognan back in 2012, he hired 15 local craftsmen, among others, to renovate the estate and replant vines, including a seamless recreation of a second tower that looks just about as old as the original.
A landscape artist redesigned the grounds with an elaborate garden and swimming pool.
It is like a charming five-star hotel in a pastoral vineyard, and prices – starting at €220 per night – are hardly heart stopping for such an amazing setting and comfort. Only four comfortable, well-lit bedrooms and single suite (419 to 753 sq.ft) are located on the upper level, offering great views of the grounds.
They are tastefully designed with slight variations in style, but all with keen attention to detail – from leather bound room keys to a decor that is always graceful and comfortable, reflecting the refined elegance of the owner’s main wine, Haut Bailly.
Speaking of wine, there is also a really cool mini wine tasting room! And it is hard to beat having your meal outside if the weather is good.
Want to while away the time on a warmer day? Just jump in the classy pool or admire the garden’s wide variety of flowers and herbs, again very tastefully arranged.
Greeting guests and managing the estate is the super friendly Hervé Audibert, who had managed the personal kitchen staff of Château Margaux and previously worked at Michelin-rated restaurants throughout France.
After many rewarding years, Le Pape has become Audibert’s home, as he lives on the ground level and is at the beck and call for guests.
As a journalist, I was very lucky to get some special treatment, such as tasting Audibert’s homemade goose terrine, even though that is not part of the regular deal…
But what is part of the deal is the tasty and copious breakfast – with different international newspapers from which to choose – while overlooking the lovely vineyard. I particularly enjoyed the soft boiled egg and the fresh jams and homemade coffee cake.”I am very comfortable here,” Audibert remarked to me. And he is very much a people person, so your ideal host.
The wines of Le Pape are getting better. Readers should note that the Wilmers’ team only started to bottle wines at the estate since the 2012 vintage, after having had to replant many vines. The 2014 vintage is so far the very best, and one should expect an excellent 2015.
More on the wines here.
Anne-Sophie Brieux, communications director at Haut-Bailly and Le Pape, says that plans by the French national railway to shorten the train ride from Paris to Bordeaux will help wine tourism – and increase visits to their respective estates.
When opened in 2017, the Bordeaux-Paris route is expected to take much less time, down to 2 hours and 4 minutes from 3 hours and 14 minutes.
Le Pape? Highly recommended!
To book a room:
Château Le Pape, 33850 Léognan, France – Tel. +33 (0)5 56 64 75 11
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