|We'd like to think Scala's group wine trips to Bordeaux are in the premier grand cru class of wine tasting tours. Our first was in 1996 so we know what works. Our guides have top wine knowledge and communicate well at the right level. So you love wine more as you understand more and it's all fun. Our good contacts with the wine trade mean we get you into places the normal tourist would struggle to see.
You want to visit Chateau Margaux, Mouton and Lafite or Cheval Blanc and d'Yquem, Latour or Haut-Brion? Each visit and wine tasting private to your group? A chance to talk to those who make the wine each year? A few boutique wineries too? Stay in the top hotels or smaller-scale? Eat very well? Time to shop and relax on your own? Then speak to us soon.
Bordeaux itself is the world wine city, along with small neighbour St Emilion, garlanded with UNESCO heritage
status. In 15 years under mayor Alain Juppé a grand plan has turned its forebidding grey facades into a chic and exciting destination. There have been huge town planning contributions from the proud Bordelais as well as from Ricardo Bofill, already an architect at home after his redesign of the cellars at Chateau Laite-Rothschild. Transformation includes conservation, with more protected buildings than any other French city bar Paris. There is a sleek new tram system, glittering shopping in the 'Golden Triangle', a vast Old Town pedestrianised area thronged each evening by the urban smart in search of supper - a restaurant scene buzzing in the noughties where it was boring in the nineties.
The Scala flexible formula is this:
Each wine tour is carefully designed to your precise wishes and requirements. There is no pre-planned package you have to take or leave. But we have many itineries and have never run the exact same tour twice. You decide how to spend each day from options we give you in advance based on preferences you express. We will tweak the itinerary until you are happy on every point and price.
Step 1: HOW MANY AND WHEN? - Tell us about your group and dates. We will guide and steward any group from two to thirty. We try to keep single room supplements to a minimum.
Step 2: SIMPLE TO DE LUXE? - What level of travel, accommodation and food you would like? Good food and wine, from excellent restaurants to special private dinners, is very much part of a Scala tour.
Step 3 HOW MAD ABOUT WINE ARE YOU? Tell us what level of wine input, guiding and visits you would like, from beginner to connoisseur, including the balance of individual 'free' time and visits and wine tastings to producers as a group. You will decide the wine tour you want.
What have we learnt over the years about what really works ? First, we do not see the point of going to Bordeaux without visiting and tasting at least one of the top Chateaux, the 'first growths', such as Margaux, Latour or Cheval Blanc. Second, we are careful to find out how relaxed or fast-moving you want the programme to be each day and how much free and private time you would like. Business groups may want to have meetings, others may want to shop or just go off piste. Thirdly, we use only top quality professional chauffeur companies for all transfers between charteaux, hotels and restaurants throughout. Finally, we pay close attention to your food preferences: are wine dinners at chateaux or top restaurants your thing, or do you want to keep it simple?
Our fee structure is simple: no mark-ups on any services you want, be they flights, hotels, tastings, restaurants or transport. Our fee for planning and guiding is thus crystal clear. You will see and agree a detailed costed itinerary before any payment is made.
All A Boardeaux For London departures, BA fly from Gatwick; we'll have our own check-in (see below). Easyjet go from Luton and BMIbaby from Manchester
. If you are coming from other countries into France, there are frequent Air France flights into Bordeaux's Merignac airport. from Paris and elsewhere.
We can arrange all flights; you choose the route and timings. We will meet your flight with transport on to the hotel.
Grand Not Petit
For 5* luxe, Bordeaux is now graced by the Regent Grand Hotel
(above); very central, uber smart. If you hanker after more funky than that, the new Seeko Hotel
, just out of central but fast by super new (OK five years now!) trams,
may be more your style (below)
The lavishly set up hotel and spa at Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte
in Martillac just south of Bordeaux is a perennial favourite with groups we take (below)
The range of choice is now huge in Bordeaux. We can help you narrow it down.
Tick a Toque It's raining Michelin stars in Bordeaux withThierry Marx's cuisine (above) at Cordeillan-Bages in Paulillac still the longest holder of 2*, but pressed now by Michel Portos's St James, Bouliac (below) and the Hostellerie de Plaisance in St Emilion, both promoted to 2*. The myriad walking streets of Bordeaux's Old Town are abuzz each night with crowds heading out to eat at every price level. Seafood fans might go to A Thibaud
and Le Vieux Bordeaux
is popular. Pretty and rather cool, O de L'Ha
(below) is central, 'must book' and 'fusion', which in France means freshened up French.
Scala.......the best communicator on the wine circuit.
'We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience - the tours, the wines, the chateaux, the food and the company. We fully understand and appreciate all the thought and planning that went into ensuring that we had such a good time. We even learnt a lot too - wine takes on a whole new dimension when one learns of the artistry and dedication involved in producing those that we enjoy so much.' Alun and Sally Roberts