The year is 1920. A long tree-lined drives leads to a castle surrounded by vines. It’s Château de Seguin, a charming wine estate in the Entre-Deux-Mers that the Count of Seguin once called home. The wine estate’s brand new Vitishow transports visitors back in time to Bordeaux nearly a century ago as you discover the cultivation of the vineyards over the four seasons, and take a journey with the grapes from their arrival in the winery to becoming Bordeaux wine. And though you probably haven’t heard of Entre-Deux-Mers as you likely know of the Médoc or Saint-Émilion, Vitishow at Château de Seguin is worth discovering on your trip to Bordeaux.
Entre-Deux-Mers gets its name from its location between the two tidal rivers: the Garonne and the Dordogne. It’s a wine region within Bordeaux that is known locally, but completely unknown to most foreigners.
The wines from Entre-Deux-Mers were once very popular and quite expensive during the 18th century. And in fact, the wine making history of Entre-Deux-Mers is one of the oldest in France. It was the Romans that first planted vines here over 2000 years ago and the Benedictine monks that made the wine famous in the Middle Ages.
This is definitely an area worth visiting when visiting Bordeaux. Only about a 20-minute drive from Bordeaux center, Entre-Deux-Mers is a stunning area to drive through with the vineyards sloping down rolling hills and punctuated by dense forests. Many of the châteaux are castles that can rival those of the Médoc, and the wines are quite good and outstanding value.
Château de Seguin
The château we see today at the heart of the estate dates to 1780, but vines have been cultivated and the history dates back much further. Château de Seguin was first mentioned in 78. The estate was named for the Count of Seguin, Charlemagne’s administrator who resided there at the time.
The estate with its 95 hectares of vines is situated in Entre-Deux-Mers, which is the largest of the more than 60 Bordeaux appellations within the Bordeaux wine region. Though it’s the white wine that carries the AOC label and is what Entre-Deux-Mers is most known for, Château de Seguin wines are dominated by reds produced under the Bordeaux Supérieur appellation.
The Visit: Vitishow
Vitishow at Château de Seguin isn’t your typical Bordeaux winery tour. Vitishow is an interactive wine tasting experience that transports you back a century, with a look at the vineyard, tools, harvest and wine making process at Château de Seguin in 1920.
Nearly all Bordeaux wineries that are open to the public for visits and tasting offer a classic visit. The classic visit typically starts in the vineyard to learn about the terroir of the château and their grape varieties. You also usually visit the winery to have a look at the tanks, then visit the barrel room where the wine is aged, before finishing the visit with a tasting of the château’s wines. If you’re visiting multiple châteaux on your trip to Bordeaux, it’s true that much of the process is the same from and even many of the tanks and barrel rooms look quite similar from château to château. And these are working places where the wine is made, aged and stored.
It’s true that parts of the classic visits can feel a bit redundant.
Vitishow is something entirely different. Arriving, you feel like you’re arriving at a Parisian cinema. There’s the little glass ticket booth and today’s show times are listed.
The show is Vitishow, a unique look back at what life was like in the vineyards in 1920. It’s housed in the former cellar and the show has been built around the Mabille presses that existed there. It’s self-guided and you receive a very informative booklet (available in either French or English) with your ticket.
The show takes place in two different rooms. The first room is like a mini museum and focuses on what happens in the vineyards themselves. There’s a set of glass cases showing what the vines look like in each of the four seasons. While the vines require near constant attention from April through when the grapes are harvested in September/October, this display is a reminder that year round work is necessary in the vineyard.
There’s also a tool cupboard and you might make a game trying to guess what some of the very odd looking tools were used for. Of course, the booklet has each of the tools descriptions.
The second room is the cellar where the harvested grapes used to arrive, travel on the bucket elevator into the presses, then were crushed before the juice was pumped into the tanks. The lights dim and there’s a sound and light show that plays across a giant screen on the back wall. Have a seat on some of the old crates and watch the short animated film that takes us from the grapes ripening through harvest, before coming in to the winery for the pressing, fermentation, aging and bottling of the wine.
Once the lights turn back on, don’t rush to the exit just yet. Château de Seguin spent time curating some really fun propaganda that was used to sell wine in France back in the 1920. Have a wander around looking at it, along with the historic equipment.
The show exits out on to the terrace of the brand new wine shop at Château de Seguin. Set in the heart of the Entre-Deux-Mers, the terrace overlooks some of the château’s 150 hectares of vines and the view is beautiful.
Once you’ve drunk up the view, the visit continues with a tasting of three wines. Both red and white wines are produced in this appellation, though only the white wines carry the AOC appellation name of Entre-Deux-Mers. And Château de Seguin exclusively produces red wines.
You can’t come to Entre-Deux-Mers and not taste a white wine, so the first wine is from another château owned by the same family. It’s Château La France Bordeaux Blanc. They chose to call Bordeaux Blanc instead of Entre-Deux-Mers simply because outside of the local area, most people do not know Entre-Deux-Mers. But they know Bordeaux. It’s a classic Entre-Deux-Mers wine: fresh and crisp.
Though more than half of the production at the château is their Château de Seguin AOC Bordeaux Supérieur, we’re not tasting it. Instead, the remaining two wines are the Château de Seguin Prestige and the Cuvée Carpe Diem. The Presitge is blend from their best vines and it is not aged in barrels like a traditional Bordeaux. We’re trying the 2015 vintage, which has been called the best vintage in a century, and we’re surprised at how light the wine is. It’s specifically been made in this style to enjoy right away, and it’s well balanced and light enough to just sip on without needing a food pairing to cut through the richness like an aged Bordeaux.
The Cuvée Carpe Diem is 100% Merlot and it smells like the cooked black fruits of a jar of jam. It’s got a velvety-ness from the tannins and it’s also very good. The 2012 vintage also received an award as the best wine in the Bordeaux Supérieur appellation for the 2012 vintage.
Vitishow is great for the whole family. The interactive museum and animated show will hold kids attention and the little family members have their own tasting of white and red grape juice to feel part of the entire experience.
It’s also worth noting that the most expensive of the Château de Seguin wines is about $14 USD. A Bordeaux wine doesn’t have to break the bank to be excellent quality, and Château de Seguin proves that.
In addition to their own wines and wines of their other château, Château La France, the wine shop sells 150 different labels from around the Bordeaux wine region. For locals, this is especially fantastic since there’s currently no wine shops located in Entre-Deux-Mers. Owner Stéphane Mottet is not only a wine maker, but also a wine merchant. And he’s selling the other labels at the same cost as you get when you buy wine direct from the château itself. There’s no mark-up as you’ll have buying in most other wine shops or from a grocery store. The shop also stocks some spirits like Cognac, rhum and whisky that are all produced here in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.
Stay at Château de Seguin
You can also stay at Château de Seguin. Currently only the entire château is for rent as a gîte, which is an entire furnished home for rent that is self-catered. The château has seven bedrooms that sleep up to a total of 12 people, so it’s perfect for a family or a group of friends.
On the ground level, there’s a beautiful glass conservatory that serves as one of the dining rooms and looks out to the vineyard and the 20-hectare park. There’s also a billiard room with a pool table for guests’ use, two different sitting rooms, a small game room that has a variety of board games available for guest use, and a full kitchen.
The bedrooms are all found upstairs and each is named after a various Bordeaux appellation. Each bedroom is uniquely decorated and they all have ensuite bathrooms. All the rooms are spacious, and the largest often serves as a honeymoon suite for couples renting the château for a wedding. There’s also one room with two twin beds best suited for kids, but the beds can be pushed together to make the room up for additional adults.
An almost rarity in Bordeaux, there’s also a large swimming pool on site for guest use. It has a barbecue and you can cook poolside if you choose.
At winter rates around €500 per night in winter and €700 per night in high season, the rates are extremely reasonable for an entire home.
In Spring 2019 Château de Seguin will open a set of rooms in another building just next to the pool, and the rooms will be able to be booked individually on a bed and breakfast basis for guests that wish to stay but not rent the entire château.