The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Christmas special Issue 27

Come to France through the pages of The Good Life France Magazine... Discover: Provence, the hidden gems and most beautiful villages, French Alps, UNESCO listed Rocamadour... recipes and giveways, guides and an interview with international best-selling Kate Mosse who shares her favourite places in France...

The Queen of Grapes

The Queen of Grapes Merlot wines so often gets pushed aside into the shadows of Cabernet Sauvignon. The popular wine film Sideways told a similar tale. “Cabernet is King” is commonly the imposing mantra. And with the grand reputation of Bordeaux’ Médoc Grand Cru Classés of 1855 that is filled with Cabernet Sauvignon excellence, Merlot is often overlooked as a beautiful wine. And beautiful she is. “Merlot is Queen” being feminine, she is softer, with more rounded elegance, and a fruitiness that makes this wine so delicious. And drinkable much earlier than Bordeaux Big Cabernet Sauvignon, which generally needs at least ten years before it is ready. The Queen is more admirable than you might imagine. The most expensive wine in Bordeaux is a Merlot: Château Petrus, 100% Merlot, grown on the blue clay in Pomerol (Right Bank). This story about Queen Merlot begins with terroir, the concept of soil influencing the wine. The Left Bank of Bordeaux grows Cabernet Sauvignon because it loves the gravel and sandy soils there, whereas the Right Bank grows Merlot because it loves the limestone and clay soils. The Right Bank’s most notable region is Saint-Émilion where a medieval village sits on top of the limestone plateau. This wine region is as beautiful as its wines... Saint-Émilion village In Bordeaux, there are many historic towns, villages and hamlets. Saint-Émilion is a village you do not want to miss. It originates back to Medieval times with Romanesque architecture dating back to the 2nd century when the Romans planted wine grapes there. The history is deep and immense and the village itself became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

It was from the limestone quarries of this plateau in and around Saint-Émilion that stone blocks were excavated to build the entire village. Under most of the châteaux surrounding the village, and under the village itself, 124 miles of massive cave systems exist from cutting these very large blocks out of the ground and bringing them up to the surface for this construction. The Monolithic Church’s Bell Tower is the highest point in Saint Émilion with views of the charming village and rolling countryside of vineyards for as far as the eyes can see. The church itself is dazzling, entirely carved out of one solid limestone formation. It’s gigantic proportions and uniqueness make it Europe’s widest monolithic church and famous worldwide. The village is a beautiful place to explore, day or night. It is safe and peaceful. Enchanting, actually. There are numerous great restaurants to be found. Try Logis de La Candène. Their atmosphere and creativity earned them a Michelin star. They also have beautiful accommodations in historic village buildings as well. Lard et Bouchon is a restaurant underground in the caves. Excellent cuisine, with a wine cavern and reasonable prices. Wine bars and wine shops are everywhere. There are three châteaux in the village. I don’t mean a retail outlet for their wines. These are actual wineries making their wine in the village. They are Château Guadet (Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé), Moulin Galhaud (Saint-Émilion Grand Cru), and Les Cordeliers (sparkling wines underground). All three wineries are open to the public and have underground caves that you can visit.

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