26th June, 2016

The WineGeese Society Bordeaux Tour 2016

Date : 26th June, 2016



Bordeaux Tour
Preliminary Description
(as of 10 February 2016)


26 to 30 June 2016


Replica of historical frigate, c 1780, at Bordeaux Le Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux, Place de la Comédie

The WineGeese are retuing to Bordeaux, their spiritual and cultural home. The splendid châteaux of Bordeaux and the wines they produce comprise one of the great cultural treasures of France – a cultural treasure that is inextricably tied into the tapestry of Irish history. Some of the great chateaux we will visit include Fieuzal, Léoville Barton, Lynch-Bages and those great merchant families that made it possible, including the Bartons and the Lawtons. We will be joined by our honorary chairs, Ted and Garry Murphy – the same Ted Murphy who has so generously given us the gift of the “WineGeese”.

The trip runs from 26 to 30 June and coincides with the Worldwide Ireland Funds Conference celebrating its 40th anniversary, which runs from 22 to 25 June 2016 in Dublin. Bordeaux is less than a two-hours flight from Dublin.

Sun, 26 June 2016
Our home in Bordeaux will be the five-star Le Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa in the historic hub of the city on the famed Place de la Comédie facing one of the finest opera houses in Europe.  Following a spectacular refurbishment, this historic hotel has achieved the perfect balance between its rich past and luxurious present.

Thomas Barton, from County Fermanagh, arrived at Bordeaux in 1725, where he achieved immediate success and became one of the leading wine shippers in Bordeaux. Thanks to his energy and enthusiasm, his reputation spread rapidly throughout Europe and he became known, quite simply, as French Tom. Those mainly responsible for the conferring of eighteenth-century Bordeaux with its opulence were mostly not of French origin, but a community of foreign merchants and brokers, particularly those of Irish origin, who devised an effective commercial structure, including châteaux owners, brokers, and négociants, that saw claret shipped to virtually every coer of the wine-drinking world of that time.

A few of the wineries we will visit on our tour . . .

Châteaux Léoville Barton and Langoa Barton

Thomas Barton’s grandson, Hugh Barton, who was bo in Limerick, leaed the art of the wine trade from his grandfather. He was the first member of the Barton wine dynasty to buy a château in Bordeaux. In 1821 Hugh bought Château Langoa and five years later purchased the property that is today known as Château Léoville-Barton, 3rd and 2nd classified growths in Saint Julien. Anthony Barton and his daughter Lilian Barton-Sartorius follow in the footsteps of their predecessors Thomas and Hugh Barton. Under their guidance, the wines of Château Léoville-Barton and Château Langoa are inteationally acclaimed. Their quality and sensible pricing policy, so much admired by the wine trade and consumers, ensure the perpetuation of one of the world’s great dynastic wine families. Lilian and Michel Sartorius’s children are involved in wine as well, at their family château, Mauvesin-Barton.



Michel Lynch (1752-1840) and his brother Jean-Baptiste Lynch (1749-1835) were sons of James Lynch of Galway, who like many of his countrymen settled in Bordeaux in the years following the defeat of the army by James II at the Battle of the Boyne. Count Jean-Baptiste Lynch served as Mayor of Bordeaux, President of the General Council of the Gironde in 1809, and Counselor to the Bordeaux Parliament.

Although both Michel and Jean-Baptiste pursued careers as politicians, they also became prominent wine merchants in Bordeaux and owned numerous châteaux in that region including: Lynch-Bages, Moussas, Dauzac-Lynch, and Pontac-Lynch. The administration of most of these estates was left to Michel who became a very celebrated viticulturist in the Bordeaux district.

Château Lynch-Bages and the branded wine, Michel Lynch, are now owned by the family of Jean-Michel Cazes who also own vineyards in the Languedoc, Australia, and Portugal. The family has owned the property since 1939 and owes much of its success to the great Jean-Michel Cases. Since 2005, Jean-Charles Cazes has had the management of their properties, bringing renewed vigor and enthusiasm to these already great wines.


Château de Fieuzal in Pessac-Léognan, just south of Bordeaux was purchased in 2001 by Irish businessman and philanthropist, Lochlann Quinn and his wife Brenda. One of the oldest and most prized estates in the Léognan region of Graves, the property was at one time owned by François, 6th Duc de La Rochefoucauld, renowned as the greatest writer of maxims and memoirs in France.

Ranked among the Premiers Crus for red wine in the “Classification of Graves” wine of 1953 and 1959, the estate also produces a dry white wine which was not classified. The history of Château de Fieuzal is synonymous with the production of fine wine. It is reputed to have been one of the favorite wines of Pope Leo XIII, and records show a consignment of Fieuzal was dispatched to the Vatican Cellars in 1893 for his pleasure.

Throughout the years the wines of Fieuzal have received acclaim for both quality and consistency. Robert Parker, the world’s most influential wine critic, has on occasion awarded the top 5 Star rating to the Château’s dry white wine. While Michael Broadbent – the world’s most experienced wine taster – has on occasion awarded a 4 Star rating to the Château’s red wine.


Château de La Ligne, located at Lignan on the right bank of Bordeaux, has a narrative deep-rooted and exceedingly rich in history, involving Kings and Queens, Knights and Crusaders, wars and revolution. In 1147 Eleanor of Aquitaine, mother of three Kings, and wife of two, Louis VII of France and Henry II of England, granted a Royal Charter for the building of a monastery for the Knights Hospitaller of St John’s of Jerusalem, on the site where Château de La Ligne now stands.

On St Patrick’s Day 2000, Belfast businessman Terry Cross fulfilled a cherished ambition when he became owner of Château de La Ligne. In doing so, he was following in the footsteps of fellow Irishmen who since the eighteenth century have established in Bordeaux and engaged in the wine trade. One must admire the diligent manner in which Terry Cross has administered the affairs of Château de La Ligne since becoming its proprietor. From the outset, he placed the vineyard management and winemaking procedures under the direction of Gilles Pauquet, one of the leading consultant oenologists in the Bordeaux region.

Château de La Ligne has undergone a renaissance under the stewardship of Terry Cross. The passion, relentless dedication, and considerable resources he has lavished on the restoration and refurbishment of this magnificent eighteenth century château are quite remarkable.



Daniel Lawton, of long established Bordeaux wine broker firm Tastet & Lawton and the last surviving member of the panel that promoted Mouton Rothschild to first growth status in 1973 died aged 85 in April 2015. He was a great friend to the WineGeese, one of its earliest honorary members, and someone with whom we always celebrated those émigré Irish in Bordeaux. We will raise the parting glass to our dear friend at Château Paveil de Luze, where he was bo. (His mother, Simone Lawton, née de Luze, was of the famed de Luze wine family.)

On settling in Bordeaux in 1739, Abraham Lawton, of County Cork, established the wine-broking house of Tastet & Lawton. He was to become the leading broker of his day and one of the most influential figures in the wine history of Bordeaux, described by a contemporary as “all powerful”. In 1785 when Thomas Jefferson visited Bordeaux, it was a Lawton who advised him on the best wines to choose for his wine cellar in Paris.

The Lawtons over the years have been connected with some of the great châteaux of the Bordeaux region: Château Paveil de Luze, Château d’Issan, Château Batailley, Château Cantenac Brown, and Château Léoville-Poyferré which still carries the Lawton family crest on its bottle label. At Château Paveil de Luze, one of the oldest properties in the Médoc, we will remember him with his family at a special dinner hosted by the Baron de Luze.

For more details, please contact Elisabet Bordt
at 214.714.5294 or winegeese@irlfunds.org

(This itinerary may change due to local conditions.)