American in Spain

Saint Émilion - Part 2 of 2

October 15, 2009
Vineyard Rose

After a lovely morning with a guided tour and a delicious lunch, it was time to go to Clos La Madeleine for a tour and a wine tasting. Unfortunately, our morning tour ended at 12:45 and our Clos tour was to begin at 14:30. By 14:30, we were still in the restaurant, 20 minutes from the Clos La Madeleine, just finishing our main course, still with a cheese platter, dessert and coffee to follow! The Mediterranean half of our marriage convinced the Scandinavian half to, "Just relax, and we'll get there when we get there." This turned out to be an excellent strategy, since we enjoyed the twenty minute walk much more than the tour and tasting itself. On the way, we walked by thousands of grape vines. But some of them weren't walled off, so we couldn't resist trying a few grapes fresh off the vine. They were incredibly good!

Freshly Picked Grapes

A grape in the hand is worth two on the vine. But still not as valuable as a grape in...

Marga Eating Freshly Picked Grapes

...your mouth! I love this photo. I dedicate it to Marga's orthodontist.

Saint Emilion Vineyard Panorama

This is the kind of countryside we walked through to get to the Clos La Madeleine. Worth viewing large.

Saint Emilion Vinyard Rows

I loved walking by the rows of vines, having them line up so you could see down them every couple steps.

Chateau Magdelaine

No, this isn't at all confusing having the Chí¢teau Magdelaine right next to the Clos La Madeleine! We may have wandered around the empty Chí¢teau Magdelaine before finding our way next door to where our tour group was already finishing.

We arrived at roughly 15:30, an hour late. The tour of the little museum had finished, and the group was doing the wine tasting. The tour guide was an obese man in his sixties who was not at all pleased with our tardiness. "Two thirty means two thirty!" he told us. But we had prepaid with the agency, so he brought out two more wine glasses. We'd only missed the first of four wines to be tasted. I was quite surprised at the demographic make-up of our tour group. Everyone was within three years of thirty years old. There were two Australians, one Brit, two French, one Austrian, and us. Some were open about their ignorance, and others were not. The Brit, when asked by someone what he did for a living, responded, "I'm a scientist," which caused Marga and me, who were eavesdropping, to burst out laughing, as no real scientist would give that answer.

The wine tasting involved one of the best wines I've ever tasted. It also sowed a seed for a wine industry rant that will need a post of its own.

With even more wine in our bellies, we wandered back to town...

Vineyard Rose

The Clos La Madeleine people had the brilliant idea to plant roses at the end of their vines.

Vineyard Rose Vineyard Rose

The term Clos implies that the vineyard is walled off.

Sure, that's a good place for a tree!

I couldn't come up with a reasonable sequence of events that would explain this tree growing out of this wall.

Resting out outskirts of medieval Saint Emilion

Resting on the outskirts of town.

While we were resting, I noticed that we had yet another wine tasting tour thing that we were hopelessly late for. It would have been impossible to arrive there even if we'd been on time at the previous place and gone sprinting to the following one. Plus, all the wine was making us considerably more laid back about the schedules.

When we got to the Les Cordeliers monastery, the woman there was rather surprised that we'd arrived at 17:30 for the 16:00 tour and tasting. We assumed we'd missed that and were just there to see if they'd give us the included box of twelve macaroons. A colleague of hers suggested that we could still have the wine as well, so she let us choose from a menu of five sparkling wines (called crémant). As we didn't know anything about them, she gave us the two axes of red-white and sweet-dry to choose from. Marga went with a sweet red, and I with a dry white. The woman pointed back to the little garden patio out back and suggested we have our wine out there. The garden was marvelous! The setting sun, the cool bubbling wine, the tables just the right distance apart (about 5 meters) so that you could hear other people but not what they were was wonderful.

Afternoon Sparkly Wines

Chilling in France.

Les Cordeliers Macarons

We didn't open the macaroons, since we were still stuffed from lunch.


These bubbles were way prettier in motion.

Monastery Wine Garden

The ruins of the old monastery.

Wine Garden Bottle Return

I loved the design of these bottle deposits for when customers were done with their bottles.

Posing in scene from postcard

On the way to the car and out of town we stopped again to take a photo of this church ruin, doing our best to replicate the image on the postcard that I sent to my grandfather.

Saint Émilion was a very delightful place. A big merci beaucoup to Michael for recommending it to us. We enjoyed it very much.