Published on October 18th, 2014 | by Sylvie Tuaillon8
A Wine Heaven Named Saint-Émilion
The calcified stone that was used for the buildings of Libourne and in this region generally is a classic beauty. During a visit to Bordeaux in 1790, the Parisian architect Delanoy, wrote: “The materials which we use in Bordeaux are beautiful; a beautiful white stone which costs only 6 sols (0,10 cents) net foot has even been used on the least precious buildings, so that this building gives every building, even the most mediocre, a form which pleases infinitely.” Libourne can be bright in the drizzle of winter and knows how to keep cool under the powerful rays of the summer. The good cooking (and the good wine) offered in the restaurants, give it this irreplaceable touch.
When you arrive in Libourne and the surrounding area, the curiosities which you notice, could be the delicacy and the precision with which the culture of the vines is maintained. With views that stretch as far as the eye can see and beyond, treated with reverence as a gift from the Gods. You get a thrilling, tender feeling discovering this region, known around the world, which in the past exported its fragile young vines. Vines are renewed every 60 years. The nursery gardener grafts 70 % of Merlot, 20 % of Cabernet franc and 10 % of Cabernet sauvignon for the wine of Saint-Emilion. The most important thing here is the soil, its limestone. The first Grand Crus classes are situated on the top of the hills. The vines have a “skin-deep emotion” and its roots are not deep (31,50 in), they have to be set in the ground and quickly meet the calcareous rock. The vines have to be “under pressure”, and suffer just enough to offer the best. The further we go down you run into sand and alluvium, most of the quality of the wine decreases. The irreplaceable years of sunshine such as 2009 and 2010, were just perfect.
The jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion was registered on the World Heritage List by Unesco for the preservation of its perfect communion between nature and human work. From the monolithic church bell-tower 223,10 feets high, you can admire the luxurious medieval village, and the magical area of the most beautiful vineyards.
The AOC (stamp of approval) wines of Saint-Emilion, includes 9 municipalities for 133436.906 acres.
My brother-in-law Didier Guerin, did me a great favor, and introduced me to Mr. Alain Naulet General Manager of the UdP (Union of Producers) of Saint-Emilion. He gave me one hour of his valuable time and taught me more about wine in that short period than I had known my entire life.
Today, the Union de Producteurs includes 1976.843 acres of vine : Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand cru. With 170 wine growers, it harvests 879876.99 gal per year.
Transfer of the grapes using a gravity-based system into 141 stainless steel vats : grapes which are naturally fragile are then better protected, because they are neither pushed, nor thrown, but delicately laid down in the automatically thermoregulated fermenting vats. This process maintains the fruity texture of the wine as much as possible.
The wine is stored in wooden barrels (ageing cellars) from the best oaks of Europe. Colbert, then Secretary of State and of the Navy in 1669, had made plant oaks in Central France (Tronçais Forest), to create the first navy fleet. These trees which date back 350 years, were finally used for wine barrels. These special barrels are highly sort after at auctions (French barrels cost $ 830 with a life cycle for the preservation of wine of 4 years, Hungarian, American or Russian barrels cost $ 480 with a life cycle for the preservation of the wine of 2 years), these oak barrels consist of very studied aromatic notes will structure the wine of a strong and serious tannin. Then after 4 years, they will be sold to the whiskey distillers in Scotland.
The bottling facility produces 8.000 bottles of wine per hour. The annual production is 5 million bottles. – 70 % is intended for hypermarkets or supermarkets, for restaurants, wine merchants and the wholesalers of France. – 30 % is intended for export. 7 % of that is for the U.S.A.
This cellar has a large diversity of different wines. The most popular choices are “Chateau” (grapes only from that property) or “Cuvee” (a mixture of wines from various properties).