Bordeaux Wine Travel - Henri Challeau

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J.Vizuete
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Bordeaux Wine Travel - Henri Challeau

#1 Post by J.Vizuete » July 12th, 2019, 2:32 am

I just returned from a 10 day trip to France, four of which were spent in Bordeaux where we used a local tour guide who I found searching the archives here. Henri mentioned that many of his best customers come from WB so I wanted to share some feedback.

Logistically I had a group of 3 couples with a wide range of Bordeaux knowledge, but most were fairly novice tasters. We spent a day in the Medoc, one on the right bank and one in Pessac, with a long stop in entre-deux-mers.

Several points I’d like to share with the board:
1) Henri was a fantastic guide: He was always a few minutes early to pick us up. He was helpful, friendly, communicative, courteous and kind throughout. Even offered to give us a ride to the train station the following day.
2) Henri has access to basically any chateau you’d like to visit. Given the high season, there were two I wanted to see that were not possible (Haut Brion and VCC) but outside of that, he has longstanding relationships with staff at just about every classified growth. He helped me to choose a nice variety of chateaux from small to large production, family owned, etc. We even had a picnic at one Chateau that turned out to be our most memorable visit. All of those decisions were finalized over a month before our trip. I recommend to contact him at least 6 months before you plan to visit.
3) Additionally, his level of Chateau specific knowledge is impressive. He knows the history and families/ownership, etc but also often remembers the acreage, winemaking, blend %, and vintage characteristics of each producer. Basically an encyclopedic knowledge of the region. I felt him to be quite passionate and not at all robotic about this.
4) Without disclosing the cost (which may change with time) I can say a tour with M. Challeau was an incredible value. A similar experience in Burgundy cost more for a half day for 2 people than a full day for 6 with Henri. We felt like we were getting a great deal.

If you plan to visit Bordeaux, do not hesitate to reach out to Henri (contact@bordeaux-wine-travel.com). I am happy to answer any questions on this in the future. Will post some TNs/trip notes when we get back home.
Last edited by J.Vizuete on July 13th, 2019, 7:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Howard Cooper
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Re: Bordeaux Wine Tours - Henri Challeau

#2 Post by Howard Cooper » July 12th, 2019, 4:09 am

Glad you had a great experience with Henri. We did as well several years ago when we were in Bordeaux, and several of our friends have also had wonderful experiences with him.
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Re: Bordeaux Wine Tours - Henri Challeau

#3 Post by Paul R. » July 12th, 2019, 7:31 am

I agree with all of your comments. We toured with Henri last year for two days. I would HIGHLY recommend him.
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Re: Bordeaux Wine Tours - Henri Challeau

#4 Post by Mark Cochard » July 12th, 2019, 10:49 am

Which Chateau did you have lunch?

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Re: Bordeaux Wine Tours - Henri Challeau

#5 Post by J.Vizuete » July 12th, 2019, 11:22 am

Mark Cochard wrote:
July 12th, 2019, 10:49 am
Which Chateau did you have lunch?
Chateau Biac. It’s owned by the Asseily family who received us for a beautiful lunch on the terrace. They also have some guest houses that I plan to use in the future. Some of the most kind, interesting, and vivacious people I’ve encountered. Not a bad view, either :)
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Re: Bordeaux Wine Tours - Henri Challeau

#6 Post by Mark Cochard » July 12th, 2019, 11:26 am

Thanks, Will be having lunch at Château La Croizille, which Henri has arranged for us.

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Re: Bordeaux Wine Tours - Henri Challeau

#7 Post by J.Vizuete » July 12th, 2019, 11:32 am

Cool. I hope you enjoy it greatly. Throughout the planning phase, I felt that this tour was highly customized to my group’s desires, rather than a cookie cutter program he does for everyone. What other Châteaux will you visit?
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Re: Bordeaux Wine Tours - Henri Challeau

#8 Post by Mark Cochard » July 12th, 2019, 12:03 pm

Saint Emillion
Château Coutet
Château La Croizille will have a picnic lunch here
Château Canon La Gaffeliere
Pomerol
Château Gazin

We are staying in Saint Emillion then heading for the Dordogne.

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Re: Bordeaux Wine Travel - Henri Challeau

#9 Post by Mattias Jansson » August 1st, 2019, 12:31 pm

I just returned from France including two days touring Bordeaux with Henri, and I would highly recommend it. We were a group of 10 and we did one day in St. Emilion/Pomerol and one day in Graves/Sauternes. Given the size of our group Henri had two vehicles (two Mercedes-Benz passenger vans) and the second one was driven by Bruno who was also very knowledgeable and helpful on the trip.

Henri did a very nice job customizing each day to our needs: choosing wineries, lunch places, things to do/see between wine visits, etc. (All handled via email leading up to the trip.) On the first day we visited Chateau Petit-Village, Canon La Gaffeliere, and Beausejour-Becot and had a fantastic lunch at Logis de la Cadene in St Emilion. At the end of the day, Henri took us back into St Emilion to wander around and/or visit a great wine store (ETS Martin) where they let you taste plenty of good bottles (they put the Coravin to good use.)

The second day started at Smith-Haut Lafitte, and we had a nice lunch at La Chapelle de Guiraud (on the Guiraud property) before visiting Guiraud and Yquem in the afternoon. A few notes about Yquem: 1) they only take up to 6 people at a time so we split up the group and half of us did Guiraud while the others did Yquem and vice versa, 2) you need to book Yquem yourself on their website (well in advance) and they charge the 75 Euro fee/person up-front, 3) it is absolutely worth the higher fee to visit Yquem (for comparison, the other places charged 10-40 Euro). You get a 90-min long private tour of the beautiful estate and the tasting includes generous servings (I’m guessing 4 ounces each) of Ygrec and Yquem. (2017 and 2016, respectively.)

Henri arranged all the winery visits apart from Yquem, and for those you pay the tasting fee at the winery at the end of each visit.

In summary, I would highly recommend Bordeaux Wine Tour and hope to return for a full day or two with Henri in the Medoc, which we did not have time for on this trip.

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Re: Bordeaux Wine Travel - Henri Challeau

#10 Post by J.Vizuete » August 1st, 2019, 12:35 pm

This is consistent with my experience as well. We didn't do Sauternes, but did visit:

Leoville Barton
Pichon Baron
Montrose
Clinet
Pavie
Troplong Mondot
Chateau Biac
Domaine de Chevalier
Smith Haut Lafitte

We also stopped at ETS Martin (what an amazing store!!) but didn't taste there. What was your format like? I plan to arrange a tasting in their below ground room on our next visit in the future....
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Re: Bordeaux Wine Travel - Henri Challeau

#11 Post by Mattias Jansson » August 1st, 2019, 6:06 pm

J.Vizuete wrote:
August 1st, 2019, 12:35 pm
We also stopped at ETS Martin (what an amazing store!!) but didn't taste there. What was your format like? I plan to arrange a tasting in their below ground room on our next visit in the future....
It was very informal and not anything that had been planned for us (I believe.) We walked in and they had 10-20 bottles on the table and they asked if we wanted to try anything. We tried 5-6 different bottles, all in the 30-60 Euro range. I’m also a big fan of Chartreuse and when he saw that I was eyeing the 3-liter VEP-bottles he brought out a special bottling (Cuvée des M.O.F. Sommeliers) that’s not generally available in the US and poured some of that as well. I added a couple of bottles of it to a mixed case of wine that they will ship to us in October when the weather should be more suitable for shipping.

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Re: Bordeaux Wine Travel - Henri Challeau

#12 Post by J.Vizuete » August 1st, 2019, 6:33 pm

Wonderful! I pulled a 16 Raveneau Chablis and a 2002 Bonneau de Martray Corton. I will probably order a case from them in the fall as well once it cools down as well, provided they are bottles not otherwise available to me...
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