St-Émilion Part 1: Bordeaux and Merlot’s Vinous Sea

This Monday’s EU Austerity Drinking Tour sends us to St-Émilion: right bank home to Bordeaux’s greatest, Merlot-based reds.

BordeauxTrainStation

Waiting…

After some credit card, train-related malarkey, we leave the city of Bordeaux and cross into Entre-Deux-Mers.  This flatland is Entre-Deux-Mers.  As its name implies, it is the land “between two seas”: the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers.  It’s a great region for value Bordeaux.  But our aim is Saint-Émilion, hanging over the Dordogne’s right bank.

Bordeaux Wine Map

From Bordeaux across that yellow splotch to St.-Émilion..

Then we cross the Dordogne River:

Soon, châteaux actually start looking like Châteaux and not somewhat homely barns.

BarnChateau

Not so fancy.

StEmilionChateaux

That’s more like it.

Landed, we leave the train with a few other tourists.  One road points to town.  Our march uphill begins.

It is hotter here.  The Atlantic has less influence.  Merlot must love all this sun.  Then our legs remind us this is a real hill.  We had it easy on the flat, gravels of Graves, Médoc, or Entre-Deux-Mers.  St-Émilion sits on a cliff of sandstone, which, like the Loire, makes for wine caves:

Ancient vines cover every inch.  Each micro-lot seems to have their own winery.  This green sea bristles from the recent harvest.

Vineland

So much green!

Before we get too poetic, the magnificent trashcans of Château Moulin St Georges bring us back to earth:

MoulinStGeorgeStEmilion

Even top class wineries need a dumpster.

More climbing. Vines give way to a medieval city of bleached stone.

StEmilionStreet

Feeling like a donkey cart about now.

Still more climbing.  Finally, we reach the church-littered top.

BellTowerTopStEMilion

Gods!

The Visitor’s Center opens in thirty minutes.  So we cool off in its cloister (yes, the Center is in a church).  Tourism is the new religion.

StEmilionCloister

Lovely.

Once we book a tour, the gift shop assails us with Cabernet soaps, Cab Franc candles, and Merlot salts:

MerlotSalt

Tasty?

But check back Tuesday as our exploration of St-Émilion continues with cave churches, macarons, and spectacular views.  It is too late to keep posting.

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2 Responses to St-Émilion Part 1: Bordeaux and Merlot’s Vinous Sea

  1. sand110 says:

    The church – wow! 12th century? Are the vintner’s in to taking about their wine. Your photos and info just opens the door for wanting to learn about how wine impacts entire community.

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