Again, I know it sounds crazy but we haven’t done much wine tasting since we have been in Bordeaux. Arguably one of the most famous red wine growing areas in the world, Bordeaux is a region that has many different types of red and white wines. The reds are the most famous and Saint Émillion supposedly are the best of the best. On top of producing fantastic wines, the little medieval village of Saint Émillion is a beautiful example of French villages dating back to the 12th century.
My husband and I have been to several of these incredible little villages and there are few that are my favorite. The town of Èze sits above Nice on the Riveria and is a great day trip from Nice. Aigues-Mortes is down on the coast near Montpellier and Carcassone is in the South between Toulouse and Montpellier. Carcassone has the added advantage of being the spot where Robin Hood (the one with Kevin Costner) was filmed.
The thing I love about the medieval villages is how they appear to have been untouched by history. The paintings on the walls have faded and stone is crumbling but many of the shops look exactly how they would have looked hundreds of years ago. Because many of them have ramparts, they are also very tightly contained within the citadel. They are also mostly all up on a hill looking down on the gorgeous French countryside. When you are sitting in a cafe in the midst of all of this beauty, you can’t help but be transported back in time.
So back to Saint Émillion. My parents are in town this month to do their own exploring and also hang out with my son a bit. I suppose they are here for me too but I take second fiddle to my 10 year old who adores them. We all hopped on the train from Bordeaux out to Saint Émillion. It was a beautiful May day and one of the warmer ones we have had recently so we were able to crack out the short sleeve shirts and sunglasses. We took a walking tour of the town and explored the old city as well as the catacombs and the monolithic church. I thought I knew what monolithic mean but it turns out I did not. It means the church itself was carved in the rock and was contained within one piece of stone. It was absolutely beautiful but quite cold underground.
After the tour of the city, we went to one of the wineries called Chateau Soutard. One of the reasons we haven’t done much wine tasting in Bordeaux is because it is incredibly complicated. There are different appellations (wine making methods) like Médoc, Graves, Bordeaux, Saint Émillion, and Entre-Deux-Mares. On top of that there are Grand Crus, Grand Cru Classés, and Superiors. Wait there is more. In addition there are different years for each classification and they are all quite different depending on the microclimate at that vineyard in that year. So each time I think I understand Bordeaux wines, I find another layer to discover.
Chateau Soutard did a fantastic job making all of these complicated ideas very simple. Even my 10 year old had fun on the tour. The bonus for him was that at the end there was a bow (like for a bow and arrow) that shot corks instead of arrows. I have been collecting our corks in Bordeaux so he has had a blast shooting couches, walls, and chairs since we have been back from Saint Émillion.