Saint-Emilion wines – Kings of wines

Saint-Emilion wines are produced in the vineyards that encompass the village.

Saint-Emilion wines - Vineyard located at the foot of the village
Vineyard located at the foot of the village

UNESCO added both the village and 5500-hectare vineyard on the World Heritage Sites list on December 2, 1999.

Wine growing is indeed a long established tradition in Saint-Emilion and its wine is considered as the ‘King of wines’.

Most châteaux are still family owned and have an average area of 7 hectares.

Nine communes have received the AOC:

Saint-Emilion, St-Christophe-des-Bardes, St-Etienne-de-Lisse, St-Hippolyte, St-Laurent-des-Combes, St-Pey-d’Armens, St-Sulpice-de-Faleyrens, Vignonet which composed the old jurisdiction of St-Emilion (see below) and part of the nearby commune of Libourne.

The communes of St-Georges, Lussac, Puissegin and Montagne, to the north, add the label St-Emilion to their appellation (i.e. Montagne-St-Emilion…)

These ancient vineyards, which grow on the surrounding limestone hills, are known as satellites.

Saint-Emilion wines, a complex Appellation

Saint-Emilion wines are grouped under a quite complex Appellation because of their various terroirs and grape varieties.

Saint-Emilion wines - Former abbey cloister
Former abbey cloister

1- The vineyards grow on four different geological zones.

Some vines indeed grow on the limestone plateau, others on the clay-limestone slopes or on the siliceous clay-gravel terrace.

The remaining vines extract their nutrients from the sand-gravel of the plain.

This variety of terroirs therefore creates a wide range of wines with their unique personality, texture, body, fragrance, flavor and colour.

2- Saint-Emilion wines are also produced with three different varieties of grapes.

The Merlot predominates at 55 to 60%.

The Cabernet Franc or Bouchet contributes to 30 to 35% and the Cabernet-Sauvignon to only 5 to 15%.

This subtle blend results in one of the most celebrated wines of the world.

Saint-Emilion wines indeed ally robustness, generosity, rich aromas of toasted bread, truffle and cooked fruit paired with an extraordinary aging potential!

3- As a result Saint-Emilion wines are divided in:

Saint-Emilion AOC that keep 3 to 8 years

Saint-Emilion Grand Crus that keep 5 to 12 years

Saint-Emilion Grand Crus Classés that keep 15 to 20 years

Château D’Ausone was named after the Roman poet Ausonius, who lived on the village slope and celebrated the magic of wine 16 centuries ago.

It is one of the most famous Saint Emilion wines along with Cheval Blanc, Belair and Figeac.

Jurade Wine Brotherhood of Saint-Emilion

These exceptional wines has obviously been celebrated for centuries.

Saint-Emilion wines - Entrance to a vineyard
Entrance to a vineyard

It started in 1199, when John Lackland signed the Charte de Falaise which granted the inhabitants of Saint-Emilion a series of privileges and freedoms.

A local administrative committee, La Jurade, was founded at the time.

Its members administrated Saint-Emilion, collected taxes for the clergy and local aristocraty.

They also looked after the village’s interests, which were mainly related to the wine growing.

Their jurisdiction extended to the 7 other municipalities of the AOC.

The Old Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion therefore consists of:

St-Christophe-des-Bardes, St-Hippolyte, St-Laurent-des-Combes, St-Pey-d’Armens, St-Sulpice de Faleyrens, St Etienne de Lisse and Vignonet.

Vintage Banns

Today, the role of the Jurade is essentially the promotion of Saint-Emilion wines.

Saint-Emilion wines - Vineyard located by the former episcopal palace
Vineyard located by the former episcopal palace

1- Its members organize a series of annual events such as the Spring Celebration – Fête du Printemps.

This festival takes place on the 3rd Sunday of June and evaluates the quality of the vintage.

2- The Vintage Banns – Ban des Vendanges takes place on the 3rd Sunday of September.

This is when the Jurade enlist new members in the Wine Brotherhood.

A mass is then celebrated in the church.

At the end of the traditional meal, a member of the Jurade proclaims the Vintage Banns from atop the Castel Daou Rey.

During both festivals, the Jurade’s members parade in the streets of Saint-Emilion dressed with their ritual red robes adorned with ermine fur.

Department of Gironde
Coordinates: Lat 44.894387 – Long -0.155729

Related article: Saint-Emilion village

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