23 September 2019
We booked a Vineyard tour today at a little vineyard in the hamlet of Néac.
We arrived early and wandered around checking out the surroundings. So pretty!
Some have begun picking grapes today and pickers have been congregating ready to start work for the day. We’ve also seen a few harvesters out and about so there are busy days ahead.
We were off the main tourist route, so managed to jag our own private tour and tasting.
Christine, our host was fantastic, giving us the background story to this very old vineyard. We learnt about the family history, and the history of the Château. Christine took over running the vineyard from her father, and is passionate about her work, maintaining its historical methods while restoring the vineyard to its former glory.
Our tour included a walk amongst the three varieties of grapes grown here. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Theoretically, we can now recognise the different varieties by the shape of their leaves!
We tasted the grapes which were ripe for picking. Harvesting will start on Thursday.
We entered into the winery , full of old cement vats. Christine zipped up an old ladder and next minute we were tasting straight from the vat.
We passed an ancient bottling machine, an ancient labelling machine and an ancient corking machine.
But most importantly we found the ancient “de-corking” machine!
We sampled four wines of different vintages and selected the 2015 as our favourite. And as there were only two of us, Christine sent us on our way with the rest of the bottle “for a picnic lunch”.
She also sent us off with a box of 3 bottles which were a little more expensive!
Our two hour tour lasted three hours and was such a great experience!
We headed back to St Émilion for a late lunch, a bit more exploring and a tour of the Monolithic Underground Church and catacombs. Of course we did!
Our guide was entertaining and very informative but sadly stressed that no photos could be taken. So Google to the rescue once again.
Years ago, cracks started appearing on the roof of the underground church due to the weight of the heavy, heavy bell tower built on top of it. It has had to be shored up with these massive structures which take up a huge part of the chapel. Interesting in its own way.
The story of the monk, Émilion, after whom the town was eventually named, was interesting. He moved to the grotto , which is now the entrance to the catacombs and church, performed a miracle or three ( in order to become a saint) and put the town on the Pilgrim map. With pilgrims came a few extra dollars and lo and behold the town began to thrive. I thought it was all about the wine but apparently not.
It is said that if one sat on a “Fertility Seat” carved out of rock, you could be pregnant within 12 months!! A miracle!! The Tourist Information Office keeps a book of all the St Émilion babies! Tourists are asked to inform them and send photos if the child is born within 12 months of sitting on the chair, as proof that it works. They even have a web site called “St Émilion’s Babies”.
Grahame refused to take a seat!
We explored some more and took a whole pile more photos before heading home to our modest little cave and had a modest little dinner amongst the vines. Washed down with our modest little 2015 Merlot!