This jaunty turn-of-the-century seaside villa (‘château’ comes with wine making…) set high above the Gironde, is all about light. Sit in the conservatory or on the terrace and drink in the vast westward view down the vineyards and across the estuary. The older chai is more in the long low style of nearby farm buildings. Explore the estuary by boat, cross over to the Médoc, or go bird-watching. The house is furnished entirely with antiques and decorated with paintings by Anne-Sophie’s talented film-maker and artist relations. The splendid living room/kitchen, all for guests, invites relaxation and informality. Bedrooms have huge views and minimal furniture but you may find a cabin trunk with labels for your collars and studs, or a vast 18th-century armoire from Bergerac, or merely a 1930’s hatstand shaped like a bag of golf clubs. Anne-Sophie is an art historian, Alain a civil engineer who made his first wine with grapes bought in the market in Libya; he’s come a long way. They keep miniature Falabella horses and both speak excellent English. You will learn a great deal from this engaging couple.
Château Bellevue-Gazin, Premières Côtes de Blaye 2004
A Merlot-dominated blend with a deep purple robe and a warm and generous nose of cassis and plum. There are violet notes from Petit Verdot and spice from 50-year-old Malbec vines. This outperforms many a St Emilion. The estate is in transition to organic status. Don’t go home without a case or two of Alan’s delicious aged reds.