The Saint-Emilion winegrowing area, with its medieval town and picturesque villages set amidst hilly vineyards, was added to the World Heritage List in 1999, and its wine is one of the most sought-after in the world.
Saint-Emilion is located on the right bank of the Dordogne, about 50 kilometres east of Bordeaux. The area includes nine communes with a total of 5,000 hectares of vineyards. A winegrower has to earn the Saint Emilion Grand Cru appellation – which distinguishes his wine from basic Saint-Emilion – every year, while the actual classification is renewed here every 10 years.
The historic vineyards are located on the loam-limestone plateau around the town and its foothills, on a zone of gravel, loam and sand on the border with Pomerol, on the sandy foothills of the plateau or on sediments along the Dordogne.
Officially Merlot occupies 60% of the cultivated area, but usually it clearly dominates the finished blend, with up to 100%. Only a few estates (Ausone, Cheval blanc) put their trust in the second main variety, Cabernet Franc, which is supplemented by a little Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
While the classic Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is a balanced, elegant wine with supple tannins, a floral bouquet and a special freshness, the more modern version is powerful, fiery and spicy. The basic Saint-Emilion, on the other hand, remains pleasing and fruity: a pleasure to drink young.
Best age for drinking
3-10 years for basic wines and vintages,8-30 years for top wines and vintages.