Château de La Dauphine in Fronsac is no stranger to this blog. They were first featured when they won their first Best of Wine Tourism Gold Award in 2014, for Architecture & Landscapes. Hardly surprising, as this beautiful 18th century chateau and its park are nestled in the foothills of the vineyard slopes of Fronsac, overlooking the banks of the Dordogne.
They were back again in 2016, winning the Food Service category, thanks to their lunches in the chateau or by the pool in the park, and their panoramic picnics high up in the vines. After a three-year conversion period, they were certified organic in 2015. Turning to biodynamic agriculture, they won the Best of Wine Tourism Gold Award for Environmental Practices in 2018 thanks to their ‘Green Tour’ explaining their ecological philosophy.
This year they are back again, wining two awards. They took the Gold Best of Wine Tourism award in the category Innovative Wine Experiences, for their Heritage Tour and an International Award for ‘excellence and remarkable wine tourism experiences’.
Heritage is an underlying theme in Fronsac, as it has a long and illustrious history. Sitting on and around ‘The Tertre de Fronsac’, it held a key position on the major trading route that was the Dordogne. Charlemagne built a fortress here in the 6th century and the Duc of Richelieu built his chateau on the ruins and introduced the wines to the court of King Louis 14th, making them the height of fashion. Today Fronsac is a hidden treasure; it enjoys the same ‘terroir’ as its famous neighbour Saint Emilion, with limestone hillsides and spectacular views over the Dordogne River, but remains less well known.
Chateau de La Dauphine is at the heart of the appellation, geographically and historically. Dating back to the 16th century, its name is inspired by the visit here of wife of the Dauphin of France, ‘La Dauphine’. The Heritage Tour at Château de La Dauphine couldn’t make them a more appropriate winner. It includes the historical, cultural and gastronomic heritage of the region as well as of the chateau. What makes it unique is that the tour takes place in a classic French 2CV, another French icon. Starting in the park of the chateau, guests will visit the winery, tour the vineyard and visit the while estate including the fishing hut on the banks of the Dordogne, and the truffle orchard.
The car then heads up the slopes of the vineyard behind the chateau to a unique viewing spot. From this point of view, visitors can really understand the unique geography, geology and soils that make up the appellation. Here, guests will taste wines from the vineyard accompanied by regional specialities such as lamprey rillettes, truffle butter, duck breast, Basque cheese, Bordeaux’s cannelé cakes, and the panoramic view.
Tours are intimate; these are not big cars! A maximum of three guests, with the driver guide, will join this historic wine and food 2CV-safari.
[By Wendy Narby ]