Perched on a hilltop overlooking the flood plains of Bordeaux, this medieval town is one of the prettiest places on earth. It also produces excellent wine.
Saint Emilion is situated on the right bank of the Gironde and the wines generally use a higher proportion of Merlot than the other Bordeaux regions. A typical cepage may be 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc.
The predominance of Merlot means that the wine matures more quickly than other Bordeaux and the complexity of the wine usually out shines the fruit. Most producers first ferment the wine in steel tanks for about a month before transferring it to French Oak barrels for about 18 months. The wine is then bottled and the aging process continues.
Victor has been honoured with the title ‘Prudhomme de St Emilion and Bourgeois de St Emilion’. Therefore, in theory, the cellars of St Emilion are always open to him.
Victor’s mother, Deirdre, was made one of the first Dames de la Jurade de St Emilion in 1983, as can be seen from her general demeanour the cellars have been open to her a fair bit!
British connections with St Emilion go back a long way. 1999 marked the 800th year celebrations of the granting of the charter to the bourgeois of St Emilion by King John Lackland (of Magna Carta fame, and younger brother to Richard Coeur de Lion).
It is our common good fortune that most of this wine was purchased before the huge increase in demand lead to a corresponding price rise for fine wine – some London restaurants parade a fair inferior selection at three times the price!
Be thankful you’re in Yorkshire.