Bernard Magrez knows a thing or two about luxury wine tourism. His stable of Classified growths in Bordeaux includes his flagship property Château Pape Clement as well as Château Fombrauge in Saint Emilion, Château Clos Haut Peyraguey in Sauternes and Château La Tour Carnet in the Médoc.
He welcomes guests at three of these properties; Pape Clement was the first of the properties to open the doors to guests, followed by Fombrauge and La Tour Carnet. He also owns the five star hotel la Grand Maison in the centre of Bordeaux city.
Of all his properties, Chateau La Tour Carnet is unique, as is immediately obvious when you drive up to the chateau and see the imposing edifice surrounded by a moat. The French often translate Chateau into castle – it’s not usually an exact translation but this time it is.
The square tower of Chateau La Tour Carnet dates back to the Middle Ages when the English used it during the 100 years war, the drawbridge and moat offering protection against the French cavalry.
In 1451, when Bordeaux surrendered to the French king, le Comte Jean de Foix, then owner of the chateau, along with his squire Carnet, remained faithful to the English crown, after the death of his master Carnet endured a long siege by the French. He was finally defeated and the castle partially destroyed but his memory lives on to this day in the name of the castle.
Situated on the border of the Saint Julien appellation, Haut Medoc wine has been produced at Chateau La Tour Carnet since the 16th century and the property was included in the famous 1855 classification of Medoc, Graves and Sauternes.
It has now returned to its former glory, the wine as well as the property, thanks to the passion of Bernard Magrez.
Despite this grand history and architecture, staying at the chateau is an intimate experience with just two guest suites – but what suites!
You will be left in no doubt that you are in a medieval chateau, from the moment you cross the drawbridge, to the suits of armour that line the corridors, until you enter your room with it’s four poster bed and open fire.
The building may be medieval but the renovation is 21st century. Alongside the oak panelling and renaissance decoration are modern marble bathrooms and high-speed Wi-Fi. Be sure to make the most of your stay by exploring the chateau.
Visit the cellars to learn about the wines, and taste in the chateau dining room. Look in at the chateau museum too, where you can learn the history of the previous owners, whose room you are now sleeping in.
This is a real French chateau experience.
By Wendy Narby