Bordeaux wine St Emilion tastes of Plums, blackberry, licorice, chocolate and black cherry

One of the expensive wine Chateaus in St Emilion

One of the expensive wine Chateaus in St Emilion

We’re staying near St Emilion so had to go and have a look at this famous wine growing area. The wines from this small area of Bordeaux are really worth trying. They are expensive but when you try them you can taste why. Full bodied, earthy, spicy, chocolaty, plummy. We bought a few bottles for Christmas and as presents, not Grand Cru but from 2010 vintage. The taste….the smell…ummm

St Emilion - the famous wine growing town in the Dordogne

St Emilion – the famous wine growing town in the Dordogne

St Emilion is a beautiful town, set on a hill, with a backdrop of chateaux, limestone cliffs and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Most of the Grand Cru St Emilion wine is grown in the area immediately surrounding the town on the limestone cliffs.

A Grand Cru vineyard in St Emilion

A Grand Cru vineyard in St Emilion

What makes a good Bordeaux wine? It’s a mixture of  grapes, terroir, climate, minerals in the soil… nobody can really say exactly what is the ‘Bordeaux factor’ that makes it superior to other wines. The grapes used in St Emilion wine are Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

St Emilon town square

St Emilon town square

If you want to eat something unusual and from the classical French menu you could try lampreys cooked in red wine for example, or confit de canard.  The whole food experience is there from very haute cuisine at the top of the town to a range of inexpensive and sometimes quirky restaurants down the hillside.

One of the restaurants mid way up the hill - very quirky and interesting inside

One of the restaurants mid way up the hill – very quirky and interesting inside

If it’s a nice day and you don’t want to sit inside you could have a picnic from the bakery at the bottom of the hill, good variety of quiches (tomato and feta, quiche lorraine) and they also sell little bottles of wine.

View from a walk around the vineyards at St Emilion

View from a walk around the vineyards at St Emilion

There’s a marked walk around the edge of the vineyards taking in views of St Emilion and some of the grand Chateaux. The path starts to the left of the bakery….

Views of the vineyards on the little walk around St Emilion

Views of the vineyards along the walk around St Emilion

View of St Emilion from the walk

View of one of the grand Chateau from the walk

Here are some descriptions of the St Emilion wine:

The Merlot in St. Emilion offers tasters lush, soft textures, richness and concentration with flavours of plums, blackberry, licorice, chocolate and black cherry. The Cabernet Franc adds aromatic qualities like flowers and spice as well as tannin and structure. St. Emilion can also be earthy, spicy and deliver notes of tobacco and truffle, as well as fresh cherries when it ages.

Read more: http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/st-emilion/#ixzz3MTtmrJa6

 

 

Monsegur Antiques Market

Lots of interesting stuff at this market

Lots of interesting stuff at this market

A very cold, crisp but sunny day, just before Christmas – I bought a christmas present here for someone, can’t say who in case they see this! Also bought a lovely painting of flowers (see previous post on Christmas portraits it’s on the mantlepiece) in an old frame and an reproduction of an old Paris clock. This is one of the biggest in the area and is usually on the week before Christmas as well as during the year, check the tourist information pages. The stalls stretch all along the streets in town, vin chaud is served along with hot chocolate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MonségurDSC_0055

Our local bar - good atmosphere when there's a market

Our local bar – good atmosphere when there’s a market

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House sitting at Christmas

Don't work with children and animals....

Don’t work with children and animals….

Here are some of the animals we’re looking after on a farm near Bordeaux. When you’re looking after other people’s animals it’s a big responsibility. These are Nikki’s ‘inside animals’ – there are plenty more outdoors (more on them later). We thought we’d get them into the Christmas spirit (and keep in touch with Nikki at the same time) and they were quite happy to have a play! There is one missing –  the very ancient black cat who is too old and fragile to move around. We just keep changing his bed everyday and he likes a good brush behind the ears.

When  you’re housesitting you can do other things nearby. We went to an antique market (‘brocante’ in French) in a town called Monsegur, a lovely bastide town. I bought a picture with a hole in it (see mantlepiece) and a clock that doesn’t work – I was happy. Hope you don’t mind Nikki I’ve rearranged your mantlepiece – just to try them out. I’ll put everything back – promise!

A good website to find out more about housesitting and petsitting is http://www.trustedhousesitters.com

Cleaning hooves on Bertie the donkey

Bertie waiting patiently for a hoof cleaning session

Bertie waiting patiently for a hoof cleaning session

Stella came to help with the equines again – she’s brilliant, de-ticking everyone and cleaning their hooves. She showed us how to put on the horse collars which to the uninitiated seem a complicated mix of belts and buckles.

Stella looking on

Stella looking on

Bertie is the easiest one to do because he’s so small. We felt really pleased after we’d done it. Satisfied that the animals were more comfortable and no nasty stones lurking in their hooves that could make them lame.

Getting up close and personal

Getting up close and personal

To clean a hoof you start by tracing your hand down the inside leg of the animal and then lifting up the hoof and supporting it with one hand underneath, using the other to scrape around the ‘frog’ shape bit of the hoof. Thank you Ellie and Tony for your demonstration of this action before we came here – forever imprinted on my brain. Although they didn’t demonstrate the bottom biting bit!

Bertie, Kay and Stella

Bertie, Kay, Stella and Twiggy

Bertie's hoof - showing the 'frog'  shaped bit, you don't touch this but scrape around it to get the mud and stones out

Bertie’s hoof – showing the ‘frog’ shaped bit, you don’t touch this but scrape around it to get the mud and stones out

Week 4 – Evening time with the animals

Walking in the oak woods with Gwaai and Sengwa

Walking in the oak woods with Gwaai and Sengwa – both these two like picking up hazelnuts from the tree outside the farm, cracking the kernel and eating the nuts

The woods here are really varied: oak, beech, hazel, sweet chestnut with an understory of christmas box, holly and gorse. We go for a walk here each morning and evening with the dogs. Although you can’t really go at the weekend as there are too many hunters about. It has to be seen to be believed. We’ve got Nikki’s acres of rough pasture to wander around then.

Twiggy having some hay in the evening

Twiggy having some hay in the evening

This is where the llamas sleep at night - they come in for hay

This is where the llamas sleep at night – they come in for hay which is their main diet

Jon doing a llama pose - head up and ears back....

Jon doing a llama pose – head up and ears back….

 

Beautiful Bordeaux wine……Domaine de Bertin Cotes de Duras

Jackie Bertin-Manke wine grower extraordinaire

Jacqueline Bertin-Manke wine grower

Since we’re in Bordeaux it’s time to say a bit about the wine in this region. We sought out this independent wine grower as we’d sampled a bottle of her family’s wine in a local shop and really liked it.  Jacqueline is holding the sweet white wine they make but we bought a case of their local red. Very full-bodied and fruity, just what you’d expect from a Bordeaux wine. The grapes, are picked and sorted by hand and are a mix of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. http://www.lesbertins.fr

The vines

The vines in winter

This area the –  Cotes de Duras – between Bordeaux and Bergerac is a mix of rolling countryside full of vineyards, plum orchards and sunflowers. Pity we’re not here to see all the blossom and fruits as it’s deepest winter and not a leaf to be seen. Lots and lots of independent wine growers – you could have a very nice holiday travelling around sampling all the wines. DSC_0061Plum trees and vines in winter on the Domaine de Bertin estate.