The sublime and the sweet: Bordeaux Trip, Day 2

The American Friends exploration of Jefferson’s Bordeaux began at Château La Mission de Haut-Brion with an unparalleled winemaker’s tour and luncheon hosted by Monsieur Jean-Philippe Delmas, Deputy Managing Director of Wines and Estates. After a tour of the legendary property at La Mission, including the chai, gardens and chapel, our guests were welcomed at The Pavilion Catelan by Mssrs. Delmas and Puginier with champagne and a glorious view of the vineyards. Monsieur Delmas engaged the guests with a lively discussion of the Haut-Brion terrace, terroir, and unique ecosystem and introduced Monsieur Puginier. M. Alain Puginier, the historian for Domaine Clarence Dillon, delighted our guests with a small gift of copies of Thomas Jefferson’s letters, and a presentation about Jefferson’s first visit to this legendary estate. 

After the presentation, our guests were escorted to an exquisitely presented lunch accompanied by wines and vintages from each of Domaine Clarence Dillon’s estates:

  • Chteau La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc 2016
  • Chteau Haut-Brion Blanc 2016
  • Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2009
  • Château Haut-Brion 2009
  • Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2004
  • Château Haut-Brion 2004
  • Château Quintus 2016

Everyone enjoyed a wonderful conversation with the renowned winemaker and historian. It was a magnificent and meaningful beginning to our visits to the châteaux where it all began for Mr. Thomas Jefferson.

Immediately following lunch, our guests traveled to the estate that is viewed as among the greatest wines of France, Château d’Yquem. Thomas Jefferson was a great fan of d’Yquem and made it his first stop in the Bordeaux wine region, where he wrote, “Sauterne (sic). This is the best white wine of France and the best of it is made by Monsieur de Lur-Saluces.” Mr. Pierre Lurton, President of Château d’Yquem, welcomed Mr. George Sape and the American Friends later in the day. Gracious and affable, he shared this personal and insightful visit, beginning with a tour of the extraordinary property, the cellars, the château, and finally, a tasting of sunshine in a glass, including what he described as a “comet year,” the 1967 vintage. 

Mr. Lurton also led a special tour of Château d’Yquem’s extensive cellars, with wines going back into the 19th and even 18th centuries. He showed the group a bottle engraved with Thomas Jefferson’s initials and the year of his visit to the Château, 1787. While there have been some questions as to the authenticity of this bottle, there is no consensus, so it was most interesting to see this possible piece of history.