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St Emillion

Breakfast on the balcony, day two of no croissants which is slightly ridiculous as we are in croissant territory yet here we are abstaining!

We pick up our new wheels this morning which normally involves spending forever searching for the car rental place….sure enough.
Finally, no where near the address supplied, we stumble upon Hertz to take custody of a Renault Captur diesel.

Up selling is an art form at car rentals, and our maestro behind the counter didn’t disappoint, offering a manual GPS for a mere €16 per day extra, all the while failing to explain that the car comes with a GPS built in!

…..we have our own Navman, thank you very much!
Finally off to the famous Bordeaux region of St Emillion, which is about 70 kms away along mainly boring freeways.
Speaking of GPS, you’ve got to love it when you set it for ‘fastest time’ and you end up on tiny laneways leading presumably to nowhere, then out pops your destination.

45 minutes later we arrive at the beautiful, historic, world heritage listed village of St Emillion, set high on the hill overlooking the vineyard scene spread out before it. The cathedral spire takes centre stage soaring high over the village seeking out the sun, and all around are cobblestone lanes snaking down the hill.

Can’t get enough of a good cobblestone lane, even if it’s murder on your feet.

The main activity for our day was two Chateau visits, but not before Rachael visited a quaint little boutique down one of those laneways filled with fine French clothes…dutiful purchased.
Our first Chateau was near the village, and poor old Google maps kept sending us back into the village whilst we were trying to second guess it by heading out.

Strike one to Google, our Chateau was in the village, a nondescript door fronting an old manor right on the main road in. The stately building opened up behind to a lovely courtyard with surrounding outhouses which we soon discovered were the winery and cellar.

Chateau Gaudet is run by fourth generation owner Guy-Petrus, a very very famous name in the wine world, Petrus being the most prestigious label with astronomical pricing attracted. That’s per bottle, folks!

Sadly for Guy, he doesn’t own the winery just the name, not that that stopped him letting us all know about it!

We shared our tour with a couple from Mexico, and started with a history lesson on the estate, then went thru the tiny winery and barrel room before a venture down into the caves, a rabbit warren of tunnels filled with back vintage wines, plus Guy-Petrus’s own private cellar with all sorts of goodies. He made special attention of this room, “no photos please”, as it has some very expensive wines including a case or two of Petrus.

We finished with a small tasting of two wines, then the hard sell!

Purchase time, and at only €60 per bottle or thereabouts.

The wines were good, they are Grand Crus which is the highest appellation, organic, etc etc, but a little out of our quaffing budget.

We wanted something as a momento so bought a bottle of the 2012 to drink one year on our wedding anniversary but sorry Guy-Petrus, maybe not a case delivered home this time.

The tour was good fun, the caves great and wines history very interesting, so a worthwhile visit.

The next tour at Chateau Cantenac was a little out of town, and conducted by the daughter-in-law of the owner, who happened to be American, AJ.

AJ had come to the Chateau on an internship a few years prior, met the son, married him and stayed.

She made an excellent guide to a wonderful little winery of 15 hectares, showing us through the winery, barrel rooms and cellar all the while explaining their philosophy, the ‘terroir’ of the estate and the differing grapes used, wine styles, etc.

After a while you get used to the patter of the wine tour, but we still found useful information to take away.

Not being ‘grand cru’ wines at the top of the appellation, the wines don’t command the same pricing, and so were very attractively priced for such excellent quality.

We tried four wines, bought three to carry around, and would have got more if customs would let us!

Back to the village for another look around, then a drive through the vineyards just drifting around.

We found the estate of the first bottle of Bordeaux I ever bought (one of not many!) so stopped for a quick look.

One feature of the area is the low stone walls that border the estates and roads, very distinctive but treacherous to navigate, especially when oncoming traffic occurs.

By now it was 7pm, so time to head back to Bordeaux for dinner and a last look around.

More salad on the balcony, more photos of the palace, then a last drink at the bar across the road before bed.

A long, but fruitful day.

1 Comment

  1. Brendan Eames says

    St Emillion was one of my favourite places and the wine was brilliant. Beautiful hilly place but a must go to.


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