St. Émilion is located on the right bank of the Gironde, east of Libourne and Pomerol. The wines are largely Merlot-based. St. Émilion is arguably the finest terroir for Merlot in the world, producing wines with concentration and depth that have pronounced plum and blackberry fruit character, a minty edge to the nose and a silky firmness on the palate with soft acidity and great length. This is not a homogeneous region and Cheval Blanc, one of the finest chateaux, has a majority of Cabernet Franc in its vineyards because it is largely planted on a gravel outcrop. St. Émilion Terroir
The terroir of St. Émilion is fairly complex, with several distinct soil types, including limestone slopes covered with clay (Côtes) and the limestone plateau with gravel patches. The soil closest to the river is richer and more fertile. St. Émilion Classification
The classification of St. Émilion is re-evaluated every ten years. The top level is Premier Grand Cru Classé, followed by Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru. The top level is further subdivided into two "A" Premier Grand Cru Classé chateaux and two Premier Grand Cru Classé "B".
These chateaux can be demoted to the next level, Grand Cru Classé, if they fail their tasting. Châteaux that are not classified as Grand Cru Classé can submit their wines to be considered St. Émilion Grand Cru on an annual basis. If a property is promoted to Grand Cru for ten consecutive years, it is eligible for promotion at the next reclassification. Pomerol
West of St. Émilion sits Pomerol, with sandier soils in the west, gravel with a high iron content in the east, and high clay content in the north. These wines are deep colored and full-boded. Some describe them as a cross between the wines of the Médoc and those of St. Émilion. Others refer to their almost Burgundian richness.
Lalande de Pomerol is a satellite area located to the north of Pomerol on well-drained gravel soils. In spite of this, Merlot dominates the blend. The wines, in general, are lighter and more rustic, sometimes lacking in finesse and tending to over ripeness.
Unique among the other major regions, Pomerol is not classified at all. Fronsac
Fronsac is the area west of Libourne, planted on limestone and sandstone soils. It produces full-bodied wines with dense spicy fruit. The area is divided into Canon Fronsac and Côtes Canon Fronsac. Cabernet Franc makes up the majority of the blends along with Merlot. Bourg and Blaye
Côtes de Bourg, Côtes de Blaye and Premiere Côtes de Blaye are located along the Dordogne and planted on clay and limestone soils. Côtes de Bourg is considered the superior appellation, while the Côtes de Blaye is less consistent. Côtes de Castillon
Bordeaux Côtes de Castillon is just east of St. Emilion. This area has the least maritime influence and produces full-bodied, robust red wines. The vineyards are planted on sandy gravel and sandy clay, and the wines have aromas of ripe, almost dried fruit with an earthy undertone.
[Link to this Entry]