We Found Wine And History In St Emilion in Bordeaux
We enjoyed walking around Bordeaux on our first day in port. The second day we planned an excursion to explore wine and history in St Emilion in Bordeaux region.
It was early on a Sunday morning when the bus picked us up. Traffic was light on our drive to wine country. After we exited the highway, the bus driver bravely headed along the single-lane twisty roads. We saw our first glimpses of the Bordeaux wine region chateaux in the area around St Emilion.
There was a wine expert in the seat beside us. He fired questions to our tour guide as we passed vineyards and wine estates. He got quite excited when we entered the area where Pomerol wine was harvested. The bus stopped at the Petrus winery and everyone got off for a picture of the winery. When we looked at the vines, we saw they were already harvested.
A Walking Tour Of St Emilion In Bordeaux
The first part of our day for wine and history in St Emilion included a walk around the old town. It was a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999.
The rock in the area was all limestone and this influenced the wine harvested in this region. St Emilion itself sat on a limestone plateau with an empty moat surrounding the old town. We also saw the Great Wall standing in a field. This was the remnants of one wall of an old 12th century Dominican monastery.
We walked through the hilly cobblestone streets of the town. Shops and restaurants lined both sides of the street. We went through the La Cadene gate as walked down through the town. Beside the gate we saw the only timbered house in the village.
Steep and uneven stones created pathways from the lower to upper town. These were called “tertre”. We were lucky that the rain stopped before we walked up this path. It reminded us of the steep cobblestone paths we walked in the walled city of Obidos in Portugal.
The view from the upper terrace looked out over the lower town. Red roofs were everywhere. The King’s Tower stood in the distance.
A Visit to The Collegiate Church
We started with a walk around the outside of the old Collegiate Church in St Emilion in Bordeaux. We were lucky and got inside the church before the service started.
The inside was large with two front sections. Each section had a main altar with stained glass that reflected down on the altar. As we walked out the back of the church, we saw the remains of several colourful frescos on the walls.
We stopped and admired the outside cloister area. On one wall we saw a display of more modern religious paintings.
Our First View Of The Monolithic Church
From the terrace beside the old Collegiate Church, we saw the large bell tower of the Monolithic Church. When we visited inside the Monolithic Church we saw the reinforcements installed underground to ensure this tower kept standing.
The were 196 steps up the tower for a panoramic view of St Emilion and the surrounding countryside. We looked out and saw top of the front of the church carved into the rock.
Walking slowly around the church we came to the front entrance. Most of the Monolithic Church was underground, carved into the limestone plateau.
Head Underground To The Monolithic Church
Our visit started in a small private chapel. This chapel recognized the life of the Breton Hermit Saint St Emilion. Renovations in the chapel unearthed colourful frescos. No pictures were allowed here.
We then moved into the dark underground church. The large cavernous church carved into the rock was quite fascinating. We visited a rock church in Helsinki that was still in use and was light and airy. This empty church showed the remnants of the original altar, the new altar moved to the other wall and a small side altar.
We had to watch where we walked because of the dim light. But it was probably far more dramatic to see it this way than fully lit. Only the woman who was claustrophobic had trouble with all of the dark underground places we visited.
Seeing the two different churches was an interesting addition to our day trip for wine and history in St Emilion.
Visiting Chateau De Ferrand
St Emilion was in the heartland of the Merlot grape. So we were well prepared to visit a chateau that produced only red wines. Most of the fields were harvested. One field of Cabernet Franc still had grapes on the vines as they changed colour for the autumn.
After our walk through the town of St Emilion the bus moved us to the Chateau De Ferrand for our wine tour and tasting. This was the final stop on our day of wine and history in St Emilion.
The Ferrand guide gave us a brief introduction to the winery and the wines of the region. He then led us into the cellar. This room was full of barrels of aging wine.
When we looked closely at the barrels we saw the year and varietal aging in each oak barrel. As we had learned when we tasted cognac in Cognac, the barrels had a limited life and were then used for whisky. Arrows showed the turning that was done with the barrels.
Wine Tour at Chateau De Ferrand
The distillation room was made up largely of concrete vats. This winery used the concrete vats as a way to keep the wine at specific temperatures. We visited a lot of wineries and this is the first time we saw concrete vats.
Wine was being taken from the bottom and put back into the top when we visited. We saw the red wine rush out into temporary storage bins.
The tour finished in the bottle room. The classic wooden boxes of wine were stacked right up to the roof. We saw a wide variety of vintages on the boxes and bottles. This winery shipped to many places around the globe. They said we could get it at home in Canada and in some places in the U.S. But the Australians in the group needed to buy in the on-site store if they wanted this wine.
It was great to see a winery in St Emilion in Bordeaux.
Wine Tasting at Chateau De Ferrand
After the winery tour we got to try the wine. The guide opened bottles of both 2007 and 2010 vintages. We started with the 2010 wine. We found the 2010 to be much more acidic than the smoother 2007. David was not really a red wine fan so he didn’t like either wine.
But it was also an unfair taste test without a food pairing. When we did an Italian wine tasting we learned how much food changed the taste and enjoyment of a wine.
There was one other visitor that got a one-on-one tour while we were there. Their wine tasting was a much more educational process. It reminded us of how much we learned when we did a wine tour in Napa Valley. Certainly one advantage of much smaller groups. Next time we would consider renting a car and doing a winery tour on our own when we visit the Bordeaux region of France.
We were happy we got a wine tasting at Chateau De Ferrand in St Emilion in Bordeaux. Even if the wine was not really to our taste. But several people left with bottles. And at least one group had wine shipped home.
A Great Day For Wine And History In St Emilion
We had a very busy days on our day trip for wine and history in St Emilion. We started our day with a walking tour of St Emilion in Bordeaux. It was an interesting town with many historical sites to visit.
The wine tour and tasting at Chateau De Ferrand added to our education on red wines. There were many other areas of Bordeaux that specialized in other types of red, white and rosé wine. We will just need to visit again and find another winery that is more to our taste.
We still had more wine tasting to do on our fall trip along the coast of Western Europe. It was great to try cognac in Cognac in another region of Bordeaux. And we planned to tour the port houses on our next stop in Porto. While port was generally another red wine, it had the level of sweetness that David looked for in wine.
Have you explored wine and history in St Emilion? Did you find a wine to take home?
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