Martillac and Leognan are part of the Pessac Leognan left bank AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) which is an appellation created in the 1980’s, but one in which wine has been made for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest wine producing chateau in the area is Chateau Pape Clement, named for Pope Clement V who started planting vines there in the 14th century.
Then there is Chateau Haut Brion, the only producer in the Graves to be classified in 1855 classification, of the same family of Bishop Arnaud Pontiac in Bazas. Arnaud was the first wine producer to use the Chateau name to promote wines and he marketed them greatly to the English in the 17th century. His contributions to modern Bordeaux wine making and commercialization are numerous and can be read here.
There are places to see like La Brede, the home of famed philosopher Montesqieu. You could spend the day on the sandy banks of the lake in Hostens (great with kids). My guess is that most people want to visit vineyards and eat out, so here are some of my new favorites :
WINE SHOPS (CAVISTES) : L’esprit des Vins in Leognan (they have a second location in La Brede which serves food). Nice selection of wines and great help to guide you to your perfect wine. Tastings available during the summer. The Leognan location is going to start work on a brasserie inside starting this fall / 7 Crs Cr du Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny, 33850 Leognan / http://lespritdesvins.com/
One of the best *secret* caves in France is probably in the local supermarket. L’eclerc Leognan has an insane selection and good prices. You’ll enjoy spending time just browsing the selection / Route De Bordeaux, 33850 Leognan / https://www.e.leclerc/mag/e-leclerc-leognan
VINEYARDS (PRODUCERS) : A lot of the producers in this area are not set up for tourism, even if they will take visitors. It might be the owner or the winemaker who takes a break to give you a tour, which is why it’s important to be sure to book in advance before you go. Some producers offer links to book online and others will require you to call or email. Feel free to contact us if you need help making your appointments.
Domaine de Chevalier is one such producer, offering visits to those who purchase or who are wine enthusiasts on a case by case basis. Besides making great wine, their commitment to being environmentally conscious is extraordinary. Their wine is stored in a building above ground but which doesn’t require air conditioning. Wine making is notorious for consuming excessive amounts of water, which are then tainted. Chevalier, as pointed out by Remi Edange, recycles all of the water used on site. It is treated and then put into retainer ponds for nature to enjoy, until being used again.
Someone who has mastered oenotourism (wine tourism) but has also managed to retain an authentic feel is Stella Puel at Chateau Bardins. She is a 5th generation winemaker at her family’s property, and has done a great job making it family friendly. They have animals for children to enjoy while you do a wine tasting, as well as plenty of space to run around and picnic tables to take lunch. Blending sessions can be arranged, they also over blending kits to try at home, and can handle groups. 10 minutes from Martillac / 345 Chemin de la Matole, Cadaujac -Bordeaux, 33140 Cadaujac / +33 (0)5 56 30 78 01 / http://chateaubardins.fr/
WHERE TO EAT : Martillac has some great options for lunch. Le Pistou offers more classical French cuisine at good prices with indoor and terrace dining. There is also Chateau Smith Haut Lafite which offers three different restaurants for dining, from tapas style to Michelin. They also do private events and catering for groups.
My favorite, has to be Le Pintxoak – Chef is from Brittany in NW France, but how lucky we are to have him here. Incredible menu with delicious light dishes, plated beautifully at 18 EURO for three-course lunch / 7 avenue Charles de Gaulle, 33650 Martillac / +33 (0)5 56 72 07 65 / https://www.lepintxoak.fr/
In Leognan, you have Chateau Leognan which offers a restaurant over looking the pastoral landscape. Much of their cuisine is typical of the region, with lots of Basque influence.
Le Forge in the center of town offers some really classical SW French food. The traditional salad of duck gezier, confit and foie gras (salad Landaise) was one of the best I have ever had. They have indoor and outdoor dining, and can accommodate groups. Parking is across the street by the L’Eclerc / 67 CRS Mar Leclerc, 33850 Léognan / +33 (0)5 40 24 63 98 / https://www.laforgedeleognan.fr/
READ MORE : My old post https://aquitainetravelguide.com/2018/02/05/pessac-leognan-vineyards-and-chateau/
TOURS : If you would like to book a tour in this area, contact us email@example.com