St. Emilion

We got up in the morning and went back to Rue Notre Dame which we had scurried out of yesterday before the rain fell.  Had breakfast at a small patisserie, read the paper and walked the streets as the store began to open.

notredame in bordeauxThis is why the street is called Notre Dame.

lilyblakeThere is a mix of store from clothing, Lily Blake.

odesignHome stores,  O Design.

antiqueshopsAn abundance of vintage/antique stores.  After we had out fill we drove to St. Emilion to spend the day in one area of the Bordeaux region and try some wine.

st.emilion squareThe town is old and charming mostly filled with bakeries, restaurants and wine shops.  Lots of wine shops!

steepleThis steeple overlooks the town.

canalesCanele shops everywhere.

We had lunch at L’Envers Du Decor.  There are three areas to eat in this restaurant.  There is the back which is very dark and warm.  There is the bright and sunny front room and then there is the garden.  I asked to sit in the garden and even up front but they were adamant we were in the back.  Some ridiculous reason and they pushed us to only one menu.  Ends up in the front and in the garden you can order a la carte.  Note to self when I come back…and I will.  Don’t sit in the dungeon.

gaudetThe highlight of the afternoon is a private tour at Chateau Gaudet.  Their grapes sit on the edge of town and where they make the wine is in town about a 3 minute walk from lunch.

Our guide was Vince, who is part of the family that purchased these vineyards around 200 years ago.  He was wonderful.  He talks about making wine as he is giving you his philosophy on life.  The two are the same.  How he decides when the grapes are ready to be picked?  It is about the taste of the grape, the crunch of the seeds in his mouth.  As the season comes to head he checks daily and as he said “sometimes doing nothing is doing something”.

grapemachineThey make about 25,000 bottles a year.  It is an old school winery.  This is the machine where the grapes come in and they have 6 people overlooking the process including Vince.  They look for bad grapes and pull them out as they come shaking down the funnel.  This machine was only acquired in 1990.

barrelsHere is where the barrels sit until they are ready to bottled.  About 18 months.  I learned this.  The Dutch shipped the barrels to the UK hundreds of years ago.  They shipped them in 225 liter barrels which equal 300 bottles.  They measured the cargo space on a boat and the rooms could fit 50 barrels evenly in this size.  That is why wine bottles at 750ml.  All business and math.

bottlesinthecaveThe wines are kept underground in a limestone cellar.  The entire town sits on limestone.  There is a section that was cut off years ago where his Grandfather hid the wines from the Germans.  The wines are just stacked up by hand with dates on them.

chateauWe then tasted a few of the wines.  Vince talked about the bottles.  Sometimes when you open a bottle and the wine is like when you get up in the morning you can be grumpy.  It takes awhile to wake up.  Sometimes you just need a shower or even a cup of coffee.  You are the same person but you have come to life.  That is how wine is.  It is impressive how long this family business has continued to survive.  Their own grapes, their own wine making and their own sales.  Another bit of knowledge.  When the aged wine is put back into the large vat to ready for bottling they would add egg whites so that all the bitter tannins would fall to the bottom.  So what did they do with all the egg yolks?  They made caneles.  Preserving every item that they had in those days.  Hence all the canele shops.  Quite genius.

carWe then drove around St. Emilion before going back to Bordeaux for dinner.  I am pretty sure we have a similar picture in Napa when I was pregnant with Jessica 23 years ago.

operahouseforadrinkDrinks at the Opera House before dinner.  A beautiful room with windows open everywhere so you can feel the breeze and hear the city.

Our dinner was at Bistro Gabriel which was fine but certainly nothing to write home about.   It was a long time and it was our last night before making another move to the Loire Valley as we wind down the trip.