Château Lanessan in Bordeaux has a fabulous history, thanks to its vineyards – which go back to 1310 – and its remarkable architecture. Built in 1878 by André Delbos, in a neo-Tudor style representative of the period, the Château has cellars built in traditional Médoc style.
For €10 per person anyone can enter into the world of winemakers.The “winemakers for a day” have samples of the four characteristic grape varieties of the Médoc (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot) at their disposal and, with appropriate tools, they use their analytical skills to produce the most accomplished blend. Through tasting sessions, they learn to define the characteristics of each variety and see what they bring to the final blend. They are supervised by a professional throughout the process, and each participant has the opportunity to compare his or her sample with the blend created by Château Lanessan. Whether as novices or experienced amateurs, the “winemakers for a day” can enter the world of great wines through this rewarding and fun approach.
Château Lanessan recently carried out a series of interviews with some of the visitors. Here are some of their comments:
1) Why did you take part in “Winemaker for a day”?
“Since we enjoy wine, but did not know very much about making it, we wanted to understand as exactly as possible how a great wine is created: the blending, the winemaking techniques, etc. With this course for wine tourists, we could learn something about this art and appreciate some of its subtleties.” (A. & E. Jalon)
“Since I don’t have much time outside work, this wine course was ideal for me.” (E. Teillet)
2) What did you feel during this experience?
“We discovered another world and new tastes. Thanks to the interactive nature of the tasting, understanding the secrets of wine seemed so easy to us!” (A. & E. Jalon)
“Above all, it is a unique sensory experience. You have to use your taste and smell more than usual. And through this alchemy, you finally find out that you only use a small part of your senses. This is a great discovery! Take time to search out tastes in depth…” (E. Teillet)
3) Would you come back with other friends?
“As soon as I can! Sharing this discovery, this taste adventure, in the exceptional setting of the cellars and the Château, creates such a “delicious” complicity!” (A. & E. Jalon)
“At Lanessan, everything runs in harmony. The architectural beauty of the gardens and the cellars, the colours and scents, but also professionalism. It is definitely an experience I hope to repeat as often as possible!!!” (E. Teillet)
4) You came with your children. What did they get out of this adventure?
“First of all, they were curious to understand their parents’ enthusiasm for this drink that is forbidden to them! In their own way, they discovered taste from different angles, thanks to the activities which were specifically organised for them.” (A. & E. Jalon)
“When I was a child, I had sensory experiences of smell and taste which have been engraved in my memory. I really want my children to experience the same thing, and it definitely seemed to fascinate them.” (E. Teillet)
5) What was the most difficult thing about this adventure?
“The most difficult thing for me was to take the long-term perspective to make the ideal wine. Every day, at work, we think in the short term and rarely put things in perspective. Producing a great wine also means taking account of things which are often forgotten nowadays. With this adventure, nature imposes herself and we have to re-learn how to know her again. This is what made this moment a great opportunity for discussion between the participants.” (E. Teillet)
“Leaving! More seriously, the most difficult thing for a non-specialist is to realise how flavours develop over time, and to work out what such-and-such a blend will turn out to be in 5, 10 or 20 years. The only solution we have found is to keep a few bottles and leave them ageing…”. (A. & E. Jalon)
Château Lanessan was nominated for the “Best of Wine Tourism” prize in 2006 in the “Art & Culture” category. As their 700th anniversary approaches, Château Lanessan continues to introduce innovations in wine tourism.