It was a bit of a drive from our hotel to St. Emilion, and we had no idea what to expect. Our tour operator had recommended that we do a guided tour of the medieval village and underground monuments. We’re not really big “guided tour” people, but we decided it might be interesting to learn more about the area, and we were glad to learn more, since we spent a fair bit of the next two days here.
When we pulled into town, we were immediately charmed by how cute it was – it was definitely a destination worth exploring. In fact, we found ourselves wishing we had decided to just stay in St. Emilion for the last two days of our trip, as it would have made the driving a little more agreeable and it was a really enchanting spot.
We started out with a trip into the catacombs and ended with a tour of a massive underground church – truly an impressive site to see. They didn’t allow you to take photographs inside the monuments, but this gives you a feel for the style. All of the monuments were carved into the living rock.
We spent an afternoon the following day poking into shops and exploring through the winding streets. My wife spotted this storefront, and insisted we take this photo:
We met this guy while wandering around:
And we hung out here for a while one day while waiting for dinner. The town had something we had never experienced before – they played music throughout the streets in the early evening. While we were wandering through town, Cat Stevens was singing “Hey baby, it’s a wild world,” and Boston was asking to, “Let me take you home tonight…” Made the whole place feel like a laid-back party, and it was a little surreal with old American pop songs as the backdrop.
Which was a good thing, because this was the trick – our hotel was too far away to go to, and our dinner reservations were traditionally later in the evening, so we wound up with two days of long afternoons in St. Emilion, killing time. I managed to pass a lot of time quite well browsing in the many, many wine shops in town. It was interesting to see how many of them there were. They were certainly hungry for business, though given my collecting habits at home and the prices of the wines now vs. on release, it didn’t make a whole lot sense, in my opinion, to buy and ship from there. But to buy and drink that night – that was a whole different story!
We’ll skip ahead and mention that after our afternoon tastings and after hanging out in the courtyard cafes, we enjoyed dinner at L’Envers du Decor on the first day in St. Emilion. We had seen the restaurant written up in many places, so wanted to give it a try. It was actually a pretty casual affair, and to be quite honest, we were so tired and knew we had an hour drive back to the hotel in front of us, so we gave the rest of our bottle of wine to the nice couple at the table next to us, who had just arrived that day from Chicago to start their trip.
Dinner was good though, and so was the wine. Here’s what we had:
2005 Chateau Fontenil, Fronsac – Deep black/purple color with a dark ruby rim. Dark blackberry and slight red currant flavors, with very bright acidity and good ripe fine grained tannic structure. Smooth in the mouth, medium bodied, with a medium-long black fruit tannic finish. This wine is still young, but it is already drinking well today. Chateau Fontenil did a very nice job with their 2005 and it is a good value wine in Bordeaux. Drink over the next ten years.
Up next – our day in reverse – going back to lunch at Les Belles Perdrix and our tour of Troplong Mondot!