From time to time, I put together private tours to Bordaux and other areas of special interest to wine lovers. To give you the flavor of these excursions, I share with you here the final itinerary of a tour I took to Bordaeux in 2013. We had a grand time!



Final Itinerary

Taste the Greats of Bordeaux Tour 2013
with Ralph Sands

Dear Friends it is with great pleasure that I present to you this symposium; a week of fun and pleasure that I hope you will remember all of your life.

As I mentioned in the invitation, this journey is a dream even for me and I have done it 8 previous times. Bordeaux has become a much more popular tourist destination since I started in the tour business in 1995. These famous estates were not really set up for serious tourism back then but today they have to be as the world continues to descend on the region. Bordeaux continues to be the opposite of Napa with visits arranged by appointment only. Many of these famous estates receive a couple hundred thousand requests for visits per year so it can be very difficult. My position in the trade and the ability to bring serious wine lovers and buyers like you put us in a good position but it still takes some time to orchestrate all the visits. So that being said, thank you very much for your patience, I’m sure it will be rewarding; so away we go!

Sunday May, 26

Arrive from Paris to Bordeaux airport and transfer to

Hotel Relais de Margaux
3346 Margaux
Tel: 05 57 88 38 30

We hit the ground running on this trip with a tasting and welcome dinner tonight at CH. CANTEMERLE. This 5th growth is Ralph’s “new favorite” estate, complete story on that on the bus. Cantemerle is without question one of Bordeaux greatest values under the direction of Philippe Dambrine.


Our first full day together is a great day and relatively relaxing. As with everyday on the trip we start with a good breakfast. Although I am not the biggest breakfast person; on these trips I feel it is very important to have a good base everyday as we will be tasting early and often.

We start our day with a tour and tasting at the historic queen of the 1st growths CH. MARGAUX. Next stop will be the neighboring and revered 3rd growth CH. PALMER. For many decades Palmer has been making great wine far exceeding its classified status, always making wine as good as or better than any 2nd growths and in some vintages even eclipsing Ch. Margaux.

Our lunch visit will be to the lovely 5th growth CH. DU TERTRE where we will also taste the fine 3rd growth CH. GISCOURS. Both estates have made great improvements thru expensive and extensive renovations under the same ownership and director of Alexandre Van Beek.

Our dinner tour and tasting will be at one of the jewels of the famous commune of Pauillac, the stunning 2ND growth CH. PICHON LONGUEVILLE BARON. Since 1985 when this grand estate was completely renovated the talented winemaker Jean Rene Matagon has been in charge of the estate. Jean Rene’s wines absolutely rival the neighbor across the street Ch. Latour in terms of style and power.


Our morning visits will include two of the three parcels that made up the greatest vineyard in the history of St. Julien; Leoville. Both wines reflect the personality of their owners.We start with a visit to 2ND growth CH. LEOVILLE BARTON and meet one of Bordeaux most popular and legendary men, Mr Anthony Barton and his daughter Lilian. Next we will move a minute away to the great and intense wine of the also 2nd growth CH. LEOVILLE LAS CASES. This is one of the most difficult appointments in Bordeaux to secure as owner Jean Hubert Delong is a very private man and also a legendary figure.

For our lunch visit will head north to 2nd growth CH. PICHON LONGUEVILLE COMTESSE DE LALANDE; famous for its elegance and also the wine that launched K&L Wine Merchants. PCL as I like to call it was also the estate that inducted me into the Commanderie du Bontemps in 2003.

After lunch we will visit one of the world’s most popular estates, CH. LYNCH BAGES. Classified 5th growth in 1855 it has been considered a 2nd growth by the trade for 50 years now.

This evening's dinner engagement will take us to the most northern classified region of Bordeaux, St-Estephe and the incredible wine of 2nd growth CH. COS D’ESTOURNEL.

Wednesday May 29, PAUILLAC/ST-JULIEN

Our final day in the Medoc will be star studded as we start at 1st growth CH. MOUTON ROTHSCHILD. Our lunch visit will be right next door at the hottest estate in all of Bordeaux wine, CH. PONTET CANET. This classified 5th growth floundered for decades until Alfred Tesseron took over the reins from his father in 1994, and is now making wine that is absolutely of 2nd growth quality and seriously rivaling its famous neighbors.

The other famous neighbor will be our after lunch visit; and that of course is 1st growth CH. LAFITE ROTHSCHILD.

Dinner this evening will be at the famous 2nd growth CH. DUCRU BEAUCAILLOU. The Borie family has owned this great estate since 1941; since 2003 the estate has risen to even greater heights under the guidance of Bruno Borie.

Thursday May 30, Travel Day…ST-EMILION/GRAVES-LEOGNAN

We are off early today on our transfer day to the Right Bank of the Gironde estuary and the world famous commune of St-Emilion and two of its greatest estates. Our first visit will be to the revered wine of CH. CHEVAL BLANC Premier Grand Cru Class A under the direction of Pierre Lurton. Next we will move to one of the two new additions to the same Class A in 2012, CH. ANGELUS (the other being Ch. Pavie). Superstar winemaker and owner Hubert Bouard who also makes fine wine for 15-20 other different estates.

Lunch today will be a special experience as you will see what few public people ever see as we have a tour and lunch in the warehouse of the finest negociant and largest buyer of the classified wines in all of Bordeaux; JOANNE. The Casteja brothers’ are the fifth generation to run the family company that was established in 1862. I am very happy to know all of the three brothers that run the company together; Pierre Antoine, Olivier and Erik as good friends after all of the years of business.

After lunch we will transfer to our home for the rest of the tour.

Chemin de Smith Haut LafitteM
33650 Martillac, Fr.

This beautiful hotel and spa is the jewel of the Graves, located within the vineyards of Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte. Our dinner visit will be at one of the newest superstars of Bordeaux wine, CH. HAUT BAILLY. The only great quality estate in Bordeaux owned by an American, Mr. Wilmers and impeccably run by my good friend Veronique Sanders. I like to refer to this wine as “the Lafite Rothschild of the Graves”.


A leisurely and special day awaits us as we travel to the Northern section of the Graves, Pessac and a visit to the only non-Medoc first growth, the great CH. HAUT BRION. We will then travel south to Sauternes for a tour and lunch at the estate considered the world’s greatest desert wine, the mystical CH. D’YQUEM. Classifcation wise, Ch. d’ Yquem stands alone as Primier Cru Superieur and is under the direction of Pierre Lurton.

After this unique experience we have some down time to relax. Our dinner visit will be at the estate of what many call “the Burgundy of Bordeaux” and also home to one of Bordeaux greatest white wines CH. DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER.


Our final day together we will drive south to Sauternes and a visit to the greatest value in Sauternes today, CH. DOISY-VEDRINES. The above mentioned Olivier Casteja is the winemaker and the estate has been in his family since 1946.

We will return north to Leognan, not far from our hotel to the Bonnie family’s gorgeous estate, CH. MALARTIC-LAGRAVIERE. The white wine is absolutely top class and the red is elegant and classy.

We will have some time to relax this afternoon before our farewell dinner with the owners of CH. SMITH HAUT LAFITTE, Daniel and Florance Cathiard. Both the white and red wine here have become world famous since they purchased this large estate in 1991.

Please feel free to contact me any time with any questions you may have or special dietary needs by emailing me at The weather in Bordeaux can always be turbulent, late May is usually a nice time to visit as the weather can be cool or warm but not usually too cold or too hot. Attire during the day visits is nice casual, for the evenings, a more casual elegance for everyone but be sure to wear comfortable shoes especially during the day and a warm coat.

We will be dining in some very special dining rooms, for the men a sport coat\ suit and tie are not mandatory but it’s better to be overdressed than under so feel free to dress up. I will be sure to touch base with all of you many times before the trip and you will be sent the tour package a month before we leave.

Just fyi…Ch. Latour and Ch. Petrus are both completely closed due to hard hat renovations.

Very best regards and Toujours Bordeaux… GO NINERS!

Important: Each participant please read, sign and return with payment. Even if you have sent your full payment

Payment: Full payment per person is required to secure space for the land portion of the tour. This must accompany your application for processing. Air fare to Europe is not included in this price.

Cancellation: All cancellations must be received in writing. Cancellations received on or before January 31, 2013 receive a full refund, less non-refundable fees. Cancellations received between February 1, 2013 & February 28, 2013 is subject to a 50% penalty fee; between March 1, 2013 & April 30, 2013, is subject to a 75% penalty fee. For cancellations received May 1, 2013 or later, the complete package price is non-refundable. If a passenger fails to show without cancellation, no refund will be given.

Changes: Penalties will apply for any changes made to the tour within 60 days of departure. Changes in flight schedules after documents have been issued are subject to airline penalties.

Not Included: Alcohol not included in the program, any personal items such as telephone charges, laundry or any other personal charges that you may incur.

Responsibility: Travel Wizards, Ralph Sands and Cecile Levin act only as an agent for the hotel, tour operator and transportation services used in providing the arrangements included on the tour itinerary and shall not be held liable for delay, accident, injury, damage or loss incurred by vehicle defect or through any act of any supplier and/or its employees. Travel Wizards, Ralph Sands and Cecile Levin shall not be responsible for any act, error or omission. If for any reason itinerary arrangements must be altered, such changes will be made without penalty to Travel Wizards, Ralph Sands and Cecile Levin. Any additional charges will be collected from the passenger. The airlines concerned are not held responsible for any act, omission or event during the time passengers are not on board their aircraft. Passenger tickets in use by the airline, when issued, shall constitute the sole contract between the airline and the purchaser of those tickets.

Insurance: Trip cancellation insurance is strongly advised and is available upon request at an additional cost with Magda Johnson at Travel Wizards.

Disclaimer: Chateaux visits and properties are subject to change without notice.

K&L Wine Merchants is not a sponsor or promoter of this program and is not affiliated with the advertised travel offer.

Copyright © 2022 by Ralph Sands