Part III: Bordeaux – St. Émilion – Bordeaux
It might seem like this overlaps with the previous part. All I’m getting at is that we we woke up and went to sleep in Bordeaux on Wednesday, but used the extra day off shared by all to check out nearby St. Émilion.
One look at the wee old village and you can understand why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gah. It helped that we had yet another sunny, warm day. What we didn’t have was an agenda or much advance planning. Just five of us, some snacks, a minibus and a desire to see some nice old stuff and taste some nice wine.
We rocked up in our comically huge minibus just in time for the tourist info centre, associated attractions and one of the biggest wine shops (which would also have info, we figured) to close for extended lunch. We wandered a bit, took some pics, tried to visit a chateaux just over yonder only to be told it was by rendezvous, then picnicked until we could access the tourist shop with all its awesome winery maps.
Not being wine connoisseurs to any great extent, we opted to pursue the wineries in the “remarkable architecture” category (after the guy at the “featured winery” told us he really couldn’t have us as he really, absolutely had to go somewhere. Whatever, featured winery!) . The only one in that category that was both open in February and that didn’t require a rendezvous was at the outer limit of the Saint-Émilion Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Our trusty GPS got us there… if to the back entrance. Picture a massive minibus rolling down a picturesque French winery’s back service/machinery hill entry, at an incline of, I dunno, maybe 35-45 degrees? When we pulled around to the wee parking lot we saw the paved road that leads right to the front door. Nevermind! We were welcomed, toured around, had the operation and the wines explained to us, before sampling. Mmmmmmm. Sampling. It was tasssssty.
There was another winery nearby that was also open, also sans-rendezvous and, better yet, free! On the “generation to generation” list, it was a smaller operation with a distinctly more home-y feel. The person who toured us and then led our tasting was also seemingly more hip and relaxed than our snazzily dressed first host, but didn’t shy away from explaining in great detail how to properly taste the wine. I guess she figured we needed some extra help. She wasn’t necessarily wrong.
Anyway, then we saw some castles from the road back to town, had some food, gawked at the sunset, and trucked back to Bordeaux. All in all, it was a terrible day full of suffering and I’m really not sure how we managed, especially since it was our third day of horribleness in a row. And worst of all, it’s only made me want to come back here again sometime, to see more wineries… maybe via bicycle and with some rendezvous… and more bread…