Saint Émilion is the oldest wine area in Bordeaux region. It's terroir has been recognised by the UNESCO organization and it is now a World Heritage site. Saint Émilion itself is a beautiful Roman village, sitting on a hillside overlooking field after field of vines over looking the Dordogne Valley. Saint Émilion is on the Right Bank of the River Dordogne. The hills, terraces and plateaux of vines cover 13,600 acres. Most of Saint Émilion's vineyards are family owned and are relatively small: 17 acres on average.
Saint Émilion wines were not included in the 1855 Bordeaux Classification and have their own classification which was made in 1955. Unlike the 1855 classification, it is regularly revised. Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc are the only 2 wines currently classified as Premiers Grands Crus Classés A (First Great Growths category A). There are then 13 Premiers Grands Crus Classés B.
Terroir and Grapes
The terroir in Saint Émilion is varied and can be broken down into limestone plateaux, clay and limestone slopes, gravel terraces and sandy gravel plains. The clay and limestone suit the Merlot and the Cabernet Franc grape – Merlot is the most planted – and Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on the more gravelly soils.
Due to the diversity of the soils there are many different styles of wines but in general Saint Émilion wines are considered to be the most robust in Bordeaux. They reach maturity more quickly than other red Bordeaux wines and age beautifully. Their flavours are of blackcurrant and blackberry, preserved fruit, toasted bread and truffles. They are rich, warm wines and the high concentration of Merlot makes them velvety and round. They can also be complex, elegant and earthy.