Read part 1 here and part 2 here.
Finally, we are on the last leg of our trip (back) to France!
No trip to Bordeaux is complete without a visit to one of the thousands of vineyards and wine chateaus in the surrounding wine-making regions. This time, I chose St. Emilion, a small town – also a World Heritage site – some 30 kilometres outside of Bordeaux. St. Emilion is known for its high quality wine, and as the Bordeaux tourist office offered a half-day wine-tasting trip to this charming little place (same program as the one I went to in November last year), my friend and I gladly signed up for it.
Bilingual guide is a bonus, as it is always nice to know about the place you’re visiting rather than just seeing the pretty sights. For these tours, very elaborate explanations were given on the vineyards and the wine-making process, from growing the grapes to soil type to harvesting to fermentation to aging to post-production. Lots of nifty information for wine fanatics!
I’ll keep this entry short and simple. A lot of the actual wine-related stuff has been explained in an earlier trip to Blaye and Bourg, so take a look if you’re interested!
Arriving at the vineyard in St. Emilion. I actually forgot to note the name of this chateau…my bad. The colour of the vines was very different than what I saw in November, obviously due to the different season and stage of wine-making. The vast sea of green was very pleasant to the eyes, but also notice the giant dark cloud that encircled above me. Rain was approaching!
I’m amazed at how chateau owners and workers are able to maintain such large vineyards throughout the entire year. Wine is certainly an extremely important industry in the area, and massive amounts of work must be put into it to ensure the highest quality of wine produced.
This is the room where the barrels are kept for wine aging. I loved the aroma of the room. I still think that smell is the best part of the wine.
Our hostess pours wine into glasses for the guests during the wine-tasting session. There were snacks on the side, but the best wine-tasting would probably be the one at Chateau Segonzac, where they offered different types of cheese to complement the wine.
Annie grabs a glass of wine for the tasting. To be honest, after all these months in Bordeaux, I still cannot appreciate wine. I think I’d prefer a beer over a wine, though I am slowly getting used to the taste of the wine and I don’t reject it at all. Here again we undergo the three stages of wine-tasting: sight (colour of the wine), smell (the various aromas released by the wine), and taste (the flavours hidden within the wine).
Tasting the wine. Don’t ask me if it’s good wine or not. I can’t tell.
After the wine-tasting session, we had a bit of time to explore the town of St. Emilion on our own. This is the ideal spot to get a view of the town from the top. Very cute little village indeed, a typical historical town.
More roofs of St. Emilion. I wonder how many people actually live here.
It was a Sunday afternoon, but the square below was still filled with tourists. I guess even without a tourist bus, St. Emilion is easily accessible from Bordeaux. One of these days I’ll come back here on my own to walk around a bit more without the time restriction.
Streets of St. Emilion. There were lots of shops and boutiques scattered around the town on the steep, narrow streets. We found a lot of stores that sold the special Bordelais pastry, the canelé.
This is an unnamed monolithic church in the middle of the town, made entirely out of stone. Very impressive inside, but unfortunately photos were absolutely forbidden from the inside. The entrance to the church was from the underground, and we were lucky to be inside as it started to rain right as we got to the entrance. The stone architecture from the 14th century (if I remember correctly, please don’t quote me on that) was rather marvellous. It was definitely worth a visit, but you’d have to be with a tour guide with a key to get in, so remember to choose the church tour if given the option!
On our way back to the bus we saw these enormous wine bottles, and as my friend remarked, they look more like those acid waste disposal containers in the lab. How true! Anyone wanna bring a bottle home?
So there you have it, the entire trip to France in 3 parts. It’ll only be another month before I head back to Bordeaux for another extended period of time, but revisiting the city during Easter weekend made me long for it again even more than I already do. I do like Belgium, just…not Louvain-la-Neuve, to be quite frank.
Tomorrow I head to Liège to visit some friends and just chill and relax. I hope some places are still open despite it being a Sunday AND Labour Day…I want to at least grab a beer with them! Let’s make this a leisurely trip amid the hustle of travelling ^_^