Ever had a nearly perfect day? When the things you planned flow seamlessly one into the next, and your expectations are exceeded at every turn? We don’t get many of those in life,do we?
Margaux was one of those days.
We left Cadillac early, the morning sun glinting off the river, driving northwest up the Garonne, past Bordeaux and up beside the vast estuary of the Gironde, into the heart of the Medoc region to Margaux. Vineyards stretched out on either side of the road; down to the river on the left, and to the right, all the way to the distant Atlantic Ocean. The 45 mile drive passed quickly.
A quick stop at the local tourist office pointed us in the direction of our hotel, Chateau Marojallia. After the last one, I was not getting my hopes up, no matter how pretty it had looked in the pictures on-line.
If ever there was a place that embodied the essence of a little girl’s dream castle, this is it. Surrounded by vines, this is a genuine château and a working wine-estate. Until recently, it was the home of Bernard Ginestet, the long-time manager of the world-renowned Chateau Margaux. In 1999 he partnered with Phillipe Porcheron to create both a prestige hotel and an award-winning wine at Chateau Marojallia. “Phillipe,” Ginestet is reported to have said, “I’m living in this enormous house which is much too big for me. I would like this château to house your wine!”
And I am so glad he did. I stepped out of the car and into a fairy-tale.
And the bedroom! And the view! And the French doors that opened onto the terrace! And…
We had the whole place to ourselves!
It was still very early in the season, and we really were the only people staying there that night. The weather was amazing – though not quite warm enough for a dip in the pool.
Imagine waking to this in the morning:
Heaven couldn’t be any lovelier.
Although I might have been happy just to stay at the hotel and drink in its atmosphere, the day was still young, and it was the only day we would have in the area for this trip. After a nice lunch at a local golf club, we were welcomed for a tour of Rauzan-Segla, producers of one of John’s favorite wines – and next-door neighbor to our hotel.
The history of Chateau Rauzan-Segla goes back to 1661, and was run by the Rauzan family for generations. Thomas Jefferson was a fervent admirer of its wines, ordering cases of it to be sent to him in the States. The estate fell on hard times in the middle of the last century, but was purchased by Chanel – yes, that Chanel – in 1994 and is once again making world-class wines. My notes on the interior workings of this much-larger winery are woefully incomplete – I suppose a return visit is in order so I can do a proper job on it.
Oh, darn. Guess now we have to go back!
Tour finished and hours of daylight left, we climbed back into the car and drove further up the coast. Again, the road was lined with vineyards, houses great and small. A salt-tinged breeze blew through the windows and the sun shone down. We got as far north as St. Estphe before turning around.
The Moorish-inspired château at Cos D’Estornel was our northernmost stop. A beautiful building with a large sign on the gate saying they’d be happy to have guests, as long as they faxed in a request at least 48 hours in advance. This was about as close as we could get.
Now we really have to go back!
We arrived back in Margaux an hour or so later, a chilled bottle of Rosé in hand, to have a toast to our wonderful day.
Who could ask for more?