Our second day in Bordeaux started a little slower than our first day. This was mainly due to the full day of tasting and the great wines we had with dinner the evening before, but the lack of air conditioning in our hotel room didn't help either. Nonetheless, we made our way downstairs to have a cafe au lait and ask some of the locals where our first appointment, Chateau Parenchere, was located.
We got the gist of where the Chateau was located within St. Foy la Grande, but even after driving in the right direction we had to pull over for additional guidance. We ended up getting to Parenchere early and decided to take a look at some of the surrounding vineyards before our appointment.
Shortly thereafter, we drove to the property and met with Julia, daughter of the proprietor and head of sales at the Chateau. She welcomed us and took us on a tour of the property, the vineyard as well as their cellar. We learned that they are located on the eastern-most end of Bordeaux bordering Dordogne. If their vines were any further, they couldn't put Bordeaux on the label.
In their fermentation cellar, we were surprised to see that they fermented practically all of their wines in cement. This was a far cry from the heavy use of stainless tanks we had seen up until now.
Now for our favorite part: the wine tasting! We started with their Bordeaux blanc, a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle that was a refreshing respite from the hot Summer day. While walking through the vineyard, we learned that they had been grafting Sauvignon Blanc onto Cabernet Franc root stock in an ideal area for the white varietal. This allows for the Sauvignon Blanc fruit to become fully mature in less time than removing the old vines and planting brand new vines.
We tried their rose and reds next and found all of them full of bright, fresh fruit notes and beautifully integrated with the tannins. We loved the blanc and their Cuvee Raphael the best and took a bottle of each with us. Before we left, Julia recommended we visit St. Emilion next so we got directions and made our way there.
As we descended upon St. Emilion, I was so giddy to be surrounded by one of the most prestigious wine regions within Bordeaux. The town winds up and along a hill to the top of flat plain where the vineyards stretch out in all directions, one after another. I was shocked by how little civilization there was outside of the actual town and that the absolute focus was placed on the vines and the Chateaus. It wasn't hard to see why they put so much focus on wine here considering that we passed by such grand properties like Cheval Blanc, Chateau Angelus and Chateau Petrus, to name a few.
Unfortunately for us, most of these well-known Chateaus are on lock-down from people like ourselves who just want to come and taste. It's like trying to get into the newest club but not being on 'the list'. Contacting these wineries can be difficult and making an appointment can be downright impossible. While these places weren't open to us, we found a winery just outside of the village center called Chateau Cadet-Pontet that offered tastings.
We took their brief tour and tasted their wines. They were, to put it kindly, not our favorite wines from France. They reaked of volatile acidity (VA) and were a bit oxidized. We paid our 1 Euro tasting fee and moved on to greener pastures, literally.
We picked up some lunch from a local market and pulled over to the side of the road to have a picnic in the shade next to one of the vineyards...with a bottle of wine (of course)!
I hadn't realized how close Pomerol was to St. Emilion, so after lunch we ended up driving there as well. Most of the chateaus by this time were hosting their last tasting or were already closed, so we didn't taste. Between our thwarted efforts to taste and the searing heat we decided to call it a day and drove slowly back out of Pomerol and Saint Emillion. Wineless and hot, we nevertheless ended the day with positive memory of being surrounding by some of the best real estate that Bordeaux has to offer.