Located one hour outside of Bordeaux, the medieval city of Saint-Emilion is world-famous for the surrounding vineyards. The picturesque area makes up the largest wine appellation in Bordeaux’s right bank and is made up of hundreds of producers who make around 4% of all the red wine made in Bordeaux each year.
Saint Emilion is also the oldest active wine-producing appellation in the Bordeaux region, with a history of producing wine dating to the times of ancient Rome, making it the oldest wine society in France. Today Saint Emilion is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “cultural landscape” which is a world first.
While visiting Saint Emilion, I had the pleasure of visiting Grand Cru Classe Chateau La Dominique. The modern chateau was renovated by architect Jean Nouvel and seamlessly blends the traditional chateau with the modern expansion.
Jean Nouvel’s design beautifully highlights the wine being produced. The large red exterior wall showcases the various colours found in the wine produced, from deep burgundy to a bright cherry red. The red wall then mirrors the surrounding vineyards.
Within the panromantic terrace that overlooks the vineyards, Jean Nouvel’s design has a large courtyard of red glass stones with the same hues of red found on the walls. These stones are to represent the grapes, and guests are able to walk on the grapes to “crush the grapes” which would then cause the “juice” to fall below where the wine is stored.
Chateau La Dominique produces a medium to full body wine that is a deep red and has aromas of ripe fruit, and notes of licorice, pepper, and spice.
To visit Chateau La Dominique you will need to take one of the tours. The classic tour will give you a guided tour of the vineyard and cellar, and a tasting of two of the wines for 12 euros. For my visit, I opted for a blind wine tasting which took place in the private cellar. The dark cellar blocks out other sights, sounds, and scents so you can focus your senses on the wine presented. Drinking from black wine glasses I was challenged to find the colour of the wine, the grape variety, and vintage. A blind wine tasting costs 25 euros, and the premium blind wine tasting costs 50 euros a person.
Within the workshop, I went through the different stages of wine tasting and worked to develop my skills in the analyzing wine by learning how to recognize aromas and flavours.
I found the blind tasting to be extremely useful and fun experience. If possible I highly suggest trying the blind tasting for yourself.
To complete my visit I had lunch at The Red Terrace within Chateau La Dominque. The restaurant offers an exception view of the vineyards and the menu combines traditional and contemporary Bordelais specialties. Focusing on featuring seasonal produce from the southwest of France. Dishes are from 24 euros, with the market menu being 28 euros for lunch.
To start I had a chilled pea soup topped with a poached egg and chorizo.
After the delicious and refreshing soup, I had a seared tuna steak with piperade (a Basque dish of onions, green peppers and tomatoes flavoured with Espelette pepper).
Finally, for dessert, I had half-sphere of dark chocolate with red fruit which was the perfect dessert to pair with a glass of La Dominique wine.