Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saint Emilion...

Bordeaux without wine is like a bee with no flowers.  The region is covered in a ribbed blanket of grape vines, with traditional chateaux tucked in among the vineyards.  History and heritage are important in this place, wine production began here nearly two thousand years ago when the Romans occupied the region and cultivated the grapes for the soldiers.  Following the marriage of Alienor of Aquitaine to King Henry II of England in the 12th century, Bordeaux wine became hugely popular and has remained celebrated to this day. 
Saint Emilion was the first town in the region to commercially produce wine.  Though a tiny, tiny town, the wines from this region are among the most highly acclaimed.  

This weekend, Saint Emilion celebrated Patrimoine, French Heritage Day, with music events and cave tours throughout the little town. We spent the day slipping and sliding along the steep cobblestone streets in the rain, tasting the regional Merlots, and snacking on almond macarons.
Perhaps the most impressive site in Saint Emilion was the Cathedral.  It is the largest church in France, and is carved directly into the side of a cliff.  Beneath the village and the surrounding vineyards stretches 200 acres of catacombs.  Today, many of the caves in Saint Emilion are in chambers of these same catacombs, with bottles and barrels stacked where bodies might once have rested. 
Do you think this means there are ghosts in the wine?