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When we think of the greatest Bordeaux red wines we often conjure the region of the Médoc along the left bank of the Gironde River. After all, the Médoc holds the greatest number of highly ranked appellations (Saint Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint Julien and Margaux) and chateaux (Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour, Chateau Haut-Brion) in the Bordeaux region. However, on the right bank is the Saint Emilion appellation that has both an older and more recent history than the Médoc, a slightly different structure of its wines and produces some of the finest wines in all of Bordeaux.
The Romans first grew vines in Saint Emilion, centuries before anyone cultivated grapes in the Médoc region. In fact, UNESCO has named Saint Emilion a world heritage site for being the oldest cultivated terroir in Bordeaux. Winemakers in Saint Emilion have been exporting their product since the 12th century. However, in the first half of the 20th century the wines of Saint Emilion were overshadowed by the wines of the Médoc that had been officially classified by the French government in 1855, under Napoleon III.
During this period many winemakers in Saint Emilion and the entire right bank had noticed that the Merlot grape was especially well suited to their terroir and it added a smoothness to the wine made from the dominant Cabertnet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. Many growers wanted to grow a higher percentage of Merlot grapes. In 1956 there was a frost that reduced the harvest which drove prices of the wine up. Finally, they were able to invest in replanting Merlot grapes. This slightly changed the style of wines made on the right bank virtually overnight.
Saint Emilion wines were first classified in 1958 which brought the spotlight back onto the wines of this appellation. The wines were classified into 3 categories : Premier Grand Cru Classé, Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru. The highest ranked chateaux in Saint Emilion are Ausone and Cheval Blanc which rank amongst the top chateau in all of Bordaux.
It is important to note the difference between Grand Cru Classé wines and Grand Cru wines. Wines marked Grand Cru simply adhere to 2 different qualitative rules different than those set by the Saint Emilion appellation: 0.5% higher alcohol and lower yield. Grand Cru Classé wines have been deemed of superior quality.
SoDivin has most of the best St Emilion chateaux in stock.
The current Premier Grand Cru Classé wines are:
Premiers grands crus classés A
Château Cheval Blanc
Premiers grands crus classés B
Château Beau-Séjour Bécot
Château Beauséjour (Duffau-Lagarrosse)
Château La Gaffelière
There are 68 current Grand Cru Classé wines.
Enjoy exploring the difference between Saint Emilion wines and wines from across the Gironde River.