Many first-time visitors are surprised when they visit the city of Bordeaux –they find an unheralded yet beautiful city of 1 million inhabitants filled with 18th century buildings and picturesque boulevards and squares, reminiscent of Paris. And for winelovers, the biggest discovery of all is the area surrounding Bordeaux, filled with world-famous chateaux and appellations.
The first vineyards date back to Roman times, and the area with its temperate maritime climate is now the world’s largest wine region. Over 10,000 wine producing chateaux produce sorme 850 million bottles of wine a year; there are over 700 million vines tended to by 13,000 grape growers.
The Bordeaux wine industry has combined sales of over €14.5 billion annually, ranging from some of the most celebrated chateaux in the world, to modest vins de table.
St Emilion and its vineyards
St Emilion is the jewel in the crown; 30 minutes to the east of the city of Bordeaux, this medieval town and UNESCO world heritage site is totally dedicated to the local wine culture.
The small town is encircled by its ramparts, a 30 minute walk around which gives commanding views over the surrounding vineyards, Chateaux Ausone, Figeac and Cheval Blanc – to name a few.
The centre of town is filled with shops dedicated to the needs of winelovers and there is a strong affinity with English speakers since Bordeaux has been a primary supplier of wine to the UK since medieval times, and many chateaux have English or Irish ownership from this era. Boutique wine shops in the town centre sell en primeur & rare vintages and formats, wine accessories and storage systems.
Some of the best wining and dining establishments in South West France, from the 5 star Relais and Chateau Hostellerie de Plaisance, to the bistro L’Envers du Décor where local winemakers gather, can all be found in the town.
The St Emilion appellation is small (5,500 hectares) and fragmented with its different classifications of St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé B, and St Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classé A. We have decided to acquire a St Emilion Grand Cru, as we believe this classification within the appellation of St Emilion will best support increased prices for the Chateau's wines once quality improvements have been implemented, and we strive to achieve a St Emilion Grand Cru Classé status for review in 2023.
Watercolour by kind permission of Michael Broadbent MW.