Monday, May 5, 2014

Portes Ouvertes à St. Emilion

This past weekend we took advantage of the improved weather and headed off to spend the day with some friends in St. Emilion. The city is beautiful but we really wanted to go over the weekend to take advantage of their Portes Ouvertes. Because, really, who says no to free wine tastings in a region very well no for it's incredible (and often times expensive wines)?

We went with friends who had never been to St. Emilion so we spent some time visiting the gorgeous town and we did tastings at places within walking distance of the city, though I could have happily been chauffeured around the area to visit château after château and drink of their delectable nectar!

 Lionel and I on top of La Tour du Roy

Cloître des Cordeliers, in the heart of St. Emilion.  Definitely want to go back soon to explore the site a bit more and sit outside enjoying a bottle of their bubbly such a remarkable setting.

 view over St. Emilion and La Tour du Roy

vineyards on rolling hills surrounding the city

 view over St. Emilion from La Tour du Roy

 taking a break after some serious wine tasting

looking down the valley

 cloître de l'église collegiale with the clocher de l'église monolithe rising in the background

The first producer we visited was Clos Badon-Thunevin. As they explained, they started in 1990 with a very small production in the heart of St. Emilion and at the time they were made fun of by some of the bigger producers for being a "vin de garage" as their chais were located in an old garage. I guess now they are having the last laugh as they were classé in 1992 and have been producing amazing and well-known grands crus ever since. We were delighted by our visit. One of the owners showed us around their location in the city (the original garage that has since been expanded) and she was very friendly and informative. Afterwards we were given the opportunity to taste some of their wines. I was expecting to only get to taste a few of their less expensive bottles, but in the end we ended up tasting about 10 different wines which were on sale for a range of 15€-150€ in their store. I couldn't believe they would open such expensive bottles for a free wine tasting weekend, but I enjoyed it none the less!

The chais in the heart of St. Emilion in the original garage

wine tasting!

Afterwards we headed over to visit Clos des Menuts located on the edge of the city. They have incredible monolithic caves under their property that we were able to visit before proceeding back upstairs for a more typical tasting of four different wines chosen based on our general preferences. The wines were also good, but nothing compared to the first visit, and that was definitely revealed in the prices with most of their bottles ranging from 12€-30€ rather than the bottles going up easily to at least 300€ at the first location. But while the wines weren't quite as impressive the cadre was exceptional with the amazing caves.

 bottles and bottles and bottles all over les caves

and wine barrels lining the walls

 more barrels and bottles

and the walls of les caves were covered in carvings

It really ended up being the perfect way to spend our Saturday and next year I think I'll make a point to do led portes ouvertes in St. Emilion again and maybe head out to some of the other châteaux outside of the city!


  1. I always take my tourists to Clos des Menuts. I think I've been down in their cellar at least 20 times. I've tried all their wines many times over and the best one is the Excellence.

    I would also like to try the wines around St.Emilion. Like you, we don't stray far from the town itself because we always go with people who are visiting us and don't know St.Emilion. I'd like to get into the "back alleys" and discover something new.

    1. I'm definitely going to keep Clos des Menuts in mind to bring people to during future visits to St. Emilion. It's conveniently located in the city, the cellars are quite nice and they are open for wine tastings all year round. Not to mention the wine isn't half bad!

      And I agree, I'm already planning to go next year for the Portes Ouvertes and I want to check out some of the chateaux outside of the city.

  2. I visited this city 12 years ago and it is charming. Your head must have been spinning after all that tasting unless you spit it all out!

    1. It is a very beautiful city and the wines aren't half bad either! Which is why I definitely couldn't just let myself spit it out...though my head was definitely spinning by the time we made it through 10 wines at the first place.