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Wine Tasting in Bordeaux

My hotel in St. Emilion set me up with a guide. His cost will impact the balance of trade between the US and France. Does anyone have a guide that would cost less than a fortune to tour the area? His cost to visit 9 chateaus over 3 days was over 800 EU. Merci. JM

Posted by
11507 posts

Are you interested in renting a car at all and doing it on your own?

That is a lot of money for a tour.

Posted by
446 posts

It was about 30 years ago, but I was in Bordeaux and rented a car to visit wineries in the famous Pauillac region. I visited the famous Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Latour, and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and did not have to pay anything. They did not offer tastings, however.

Things have probably changed. At that time these French wineries were obviously not set up for tourists -- I had to make an appointment and come back several hours later to visit Lafite, but I did get to see their famous underground cellars. And, at Latour there wasn't a lot to see because they didn't offer any kind of tour. Mouton was the exception -- they offered tours and also had a wine museum. I think there was a small charge.

Now, however, that wine tourism in general has become a big deal all over the world, the situation has probably changed. Like, even most Napa Valley wineries now charge for tasting.

Still, I would think that you would be able to visit on your own, with a rental car, at least some wineries for less than 800 Euros for nine wineries! Perhaps this price includes tastings of the best wines? That might be part of the reason for the high price. Like, for example, the famous Chateau Petrus is not going to open for you a bottle of their $500 a bottle wines just to taste them.

I would get details on what the tour includes before agreeing to pay 800 EUR.

Posted by
10344 posts

Jack: In this case, the question is not whether you can do it on your own for less. Of course you could and many here have done their own "wine tasting" in Bordeaux. The question is whether the guide will provide good value for the €800 and we here don't have sufficient information to know the answer to that question: what the €800 works out to per hour and what is included; the credentials of the guide, the English language proficiency of the guide, whether your transportation is included in the €800 (because if it is, that's significant right there, the apples to apples comparison with your best alternative, doing it yourself, would have to include your car rental for 3 days because if you do it on your own you'll need a car).Wine tasting in Bordeaux is not quite the casual, easy to do experience it is here, say in Napa Valley or in Oregon or Washington wine country, where you just walk in and it's made easy for you. There's the language barrier, for one thing. Presumably the guide would make all that much easier for you.For these reasons, I'm going to resist the urge to just look at the €800 and jump to a conclusion that might be wrong. The guide may be well worth every euro--we here don't have enough information to give a good opinion on that. (Maybe you don't, either, and will want to get more information, such as what's included for the €800?)Here's my thought: For $21.95 you can buy the Michelin Guide titled The Wine Regions of France. From perusing that book, you may be able to form an opinion about whether you feel comfortable trying to do this on your own and whether you would get an experience anywhere near what the guide could give you.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for your help. A car is about $200 and with the help of Robt. Parker's book on letter writing I think I will opt for the lesser expense. My wife will be my French interpretor. Merci.

Posted by
1 posts

I can recommend a good one in Mexico City for about 15% of that amount.

Be brave. Do it without a guide after spending a few hours researching guide books and internet sites. That's what we are doing for this September. My wife and I have driven thousands of miles in France with never a problem, other than running out of gas in a rural area of Burgundy on a Sunday night with a credit card that wouldn't work on an unstaffed self-serve gas pump.

We drive in France with the rule, "There are no wrong turns."