St Emilion, France

Posted on July 1, 2010

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Last week I stopped by St Emilion enroute to stay with some friends in the Dordogne and quite honestly, I fell in love. With the town that is. It’s a small pretty town that has kept it’s old French Character and (mostly importantly) which has some fabulous wines. And being just a 15minute drive from Bordeaux, it makes it an easy place to add on if you visit the region.

My friend and I wanted to learn a bit about the town and wine production so we did a tour of one of the chateaux, including a walk within the limsteone shelf that makes this region special. The limestone was mined in the 1800’s, stopped to ensure that it did not collapse. The limestone provides perfect drainage for the vineyards, hence the lovely wine.

Clos la Madelaine, St Emilion

Some of the vinyeards are fairly new and the wines need to sit for a few years. We were told that the best wine’s come from 2005 but 1999 was a good year too.

It is worth popping in to the tourist office in the centre of the town (although it is closed at lunch time). They have comprehensive guides to the vineyards and chateaux with details of when each are open, languages spoken and whether appointments are needed. They can also book chateuax tours for you (usually around 12euros each and including tasting of two wines).

We stayed at a chambre d’hote around 15mins drive from St Emilion, called Beau Sejour which I highly recommend. Rooms range from 70-120 euros are are immaculate. Take the table d’hote and share a wonderful home-made meal for 25euros.We started with an apero at 6pm, with nibbles of smoked duck and cheese biscuits. Dinner was served around 8pm, a cheese souffle, followed by pintade with home made ratatouille, polished off with a cheesecake. Absolutely everything was home-made and tasted divine. vegetarians are catered to upon request. The hosts, Maureen and John, join  the other residents for dinner and were good company. They have the best attention to detail that I have seen at any chambre d’hote. The other guests were a mix of English, American and Canadians, living all over the world and made for lively conversation. We had a great night.

I also got a recommendation for the place below, which I have to say looks fabulous and I will be booking next time I go: Château Franc Pourret (Tel: +33 (0)5 57 24 72 29, ouzoulias.vins@wanadoo.fr)

In her words: Chateau Franc Pourret, an organic vineyard just outside the town that was AMAZING. The room was beautiful, the hostess lovely, the wine was good (not that I know much about wine…), and the breakfast was divine. Mostly organic, including homemade organic vanilla yogurt, AND the most amazing little homemade apple tartlets
And lastly,  from the same friend came some advice to visit the small town of Talmont sur Gironde if you drive from La Rochelle to Bordeaux. It juts out into the estuary and is named as one of the most beautiful towns in France.

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