The Wines of Saint-Émilion
Bordeaux is one of the most important wine regions in the world. Bordeaux the wine region surrounds Bordeaux the city. There is a very important river called the Gironde that divides the region into two productions areas, what we in the wine world simply call the left bank and the right bank. The Gironde is fed by the Garonne and the Dordogne. In between these two is called Entre-Deux-Mers (between two seas). The left and right bank differ mainly in soil composition, which in turn affects types of grapes and the style of wine produced. The left bank generally produces big, tannic Cabernet-based wines, while the right bank generally produces plummy soft-tannin, fruit-forward, Merlot-based red wines. There are a host of sub-districts and sub-wine regions on either side; today we focus on one of the main regions from the right bank: Saint-Émilion.
Often described as one of the most beautiful wine regions in France, Saint-Émilion produces elegant, soft, lush, round wines mainly from Merlot blended with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. If you like Merlot, do try wines from Saint-Émilion.
A number of wine classifications exist in France. Saint-Émilion has its own system which was created in 1955 and is updated every 10 years and consists of the following levels: Premier grand cru classé A, Premier grand cru classé B, and Grand cru classé. There are currently four estates at the highest level: Château Angélus, Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc and Château Pavie. These classifications and ranking systems seek to provide us consumers with a point of reference, of sorts. As you might imagine, wines in the higher classifications tend to garner higher prices.
While on our recent trip to France we travelled to the Saint-Émilion wine region, visiting Château Fonplégade and Château Soutard. Both are classified as Grand cru classé wineries in the region. Tasting these wines proved to be "aha" moments for some in our team who now began to see what all the fuss about wine is. Our group also visited the picturesque town of Saint-Émilion, which is registered as a world heritage site by UNESCO, thanks to its medieval monuments and unspoilt ancient French charm.
Are Saint-Émilion wines available in Jamaica?
It is perhaps due to their price point, but we don't have a wide range of Saint-Émilion wines available in Jamaica at this time. In a recent search around Kingston, I found only four: Château Tour Des Combes Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Mouton Cadet Saint-Émilion, Château Billeron, and Château Teyssier. With the right contact you can get some Château Cheval Blanc, but be prepared to pay handsomely.
While really great wines are made all over the world, I would encourage wine lovers to try wines from countries that have been making wines based on centuries of tradition versus wines made with science and technology.
Christopher Reckord — businessman, entrepreneur & wine enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter: @Reckord