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Saint-Emilion, france, wine producing, wine in france, wine regions (10)

Wine in the French countryside

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This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Visiting Saint-Emilion, France

Thank goodness for those Romans. Who knows where I would have ended up drinking wine if it hadn’t been for them! Thankfully, because of their foresight, it was in the beautiful French country town of Saint-Emilion that I found myself.

It was in the second century – almost two thousand years ago – that the Romans first planted vineyards here at Saint-Emilion. From that time the region has flourished and it is now one of the best known (and rightfully so!) wine-producing areas of the world.

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The three main grape varieties of the Saint-Emilion region are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. If that doesn’t mean much to you, don’t worry. All you need to know is that from these grapes are born some delicious red wines! And if you stay here, you can get a chance to travel around to some of the wineries and taste the best on offer.

Saint-Emilion, france, wine producing, wine in france, wine regions (6)

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From the information office in the centre of the historic Saint-Emilion town, you can get maps of the local wineries. These maps will tell you when the wineries are open, if they charge for a tasting, if you need to book a tasting, and the style of the vineyard.

Saint-Emilion, france, wine producing, wine in france, wine regions

Many of them are close enough to walk to (although it’s an exercise-inducing walk, not a quick and easy stroll)… but a bicycle or a car would probably be best for exploring further afield. I had arrived in town on the train from Bordeaux but I get the feeling most of the tourists here are driving their way through France.

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Saint-Emilion wine classifications

They take their wine seriously here in France – but no place moreso that Saint-Emilion. Since 1955 there has been a special classification used to rank the wineries here. Every decade it’s updated and a new one has just been released. There are now four winemakers who have achieved the top classification – ‘Premier Grand Cru Classé A’.

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It’s an important and prestigious business, wine-making, and the people here won’t suffer fools gladly. That doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate tourists and aren’t happy to explain things to novices like me. But they don’t seem to be impressed with the merrymakers who weren’t serious about learning and (importantly) buying.

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The good news is that the wine varieties are so affordable and of such a good quality, you will want to collect some bottles at every place you visit. Trust me on this one – the hardest thing will be limiting your purchases if you’ve only got a small amount of space to take them with you. How I wish I had a car… and a few weeks ahead of me in it. I would load up the boot with a few cases of this wine and merrily enjoy it for many an evening.

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Next time, that’s the way I’ll be doing this place!

UNESCO world heritage site
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here.
You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited here.

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12 Comments
  • Laura @Travelocafe | Dec 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I want there NOW!!
    Laura @Travelocafe recently posted..A Photographic Memoir Of Our 2012 TravelsMy Profile

  • D.J. - The World of Deej | Dec 29, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Definitely my kind of day…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Cruise Ship Traffic Jam – Picture of the WeekMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Oh yeah. The wine was just so good! I could have spent a week there trying them all!

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica | Dec 30, 2012 at 5:27 am

    I know very little about French wine, but I had some amazing bottles picked out by the sommelier of a wine shop in Paris.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Bierberg: traditional German Christmas cookies for four generationsMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      I get the feeling you don’t need to know too much… it all tastes good! :)

  • Chanel @ La Viajera Morena | Dec 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I wish I had seen this post before booking my non-refundable flight from Barcelona to Paris! I should have done the south of France first! Next time :D Thanks for sharing!
    Chanel @ La Viajera Morena recently posted..Christmas In New YorkMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Next time! There’s always next time. And I don’t think the wine will get any worse.

  • Italian Notes | Jan 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    My relationship with Bordeaux wines is kind of hung-over, but it sounds like a nice place to visit:)

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      But the wine is so good – it’s just not possible to get a hangover! (I told myself many an evening…)

  • Jennifer | Jan 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Oooh, I need to visit! We love doing road trips and especially visiting wineries. Oddly, we had no interests in wine before moving to Europe. Now we include wine in almost everything we do!
    Jennifer recently posted..Glacier Hiking on SólheimajökullMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      I think it’s impossible to spend time in Europe and not get immersed in the wine. It’s so defining of so many of the cultures. Admittedly, all that drinking might not be so good for productivity… but that’s a whole other story entirely! :)

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