St. Emilion – Aquitaine, France
Basking in the Wine Culture of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is an almost religious pilgrimage for oenophiles and gastronomes. At its heart is the refined city of Bordeaux, a wonderfully restored center of 18th-century architecture that serves as an elegant base for forays into vine-crossed districts with such revered names as Medoc, Graves, and Sauternes.
There are more than 10,000 vineyards, but the lovely little medieval village of St. Emilion lures one to linger. Sloping vineyards roll down to its 13th-century ramparts on all sides, enclosing cobbled medieval streets lined with wine stores and bakeries selling light-as-air macaroons. Châteaux Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild, and the digustation des vins they offer, are day trips away in Medoc. But the small-parcel vineyards that fan out from St. Emilion’s town walls provide an intimate opportunity to sample some of Bordeaux’s most refined and complex red wines. The aristocratic
19th-century Château Grand Barrail estate has recently opened as a country hotel. Many of the spacious guest rooms overlook the endless vineyards, and the Belle Epoque restaurant’s menu of regional specialties offers an impressive carte des virus, more than half from the cellars of St. Emilion vintners.