The French town of St-Émilion is possibly one of the most picturesque towns in the world. I spend inordinate amounts of time reminiscing about the one day I spent there. It is as though I have a carte postale, post-card, of the town stuck to the inside of my head: I close my eyes and I’m there.
I’m looking out over the medieval buildings, at the terracotta roofs bunched together, and I try to identify the exact point where the rolling hills kiss the sky. I walk down the slippery cobble-stone paths as children eat ice-cream and suited waiters try to draw me into the cafés and restaurants.
A small blackboard on the terrace advertises the menu of the day: mashed potatoes and Toulouse sausages. And in Le Cellier de St-Émilion, an elegant wine store, I become enamoured all over again with the wine called La Dame de Onze Heures—a St-Émilion Grand Cru wine named after the small lily that opens its white petals at 11am everyday.
So, of course, St-Émilion is much more than a post-card perfect town. It’s the buzzing centre of the fabulous, smooth, lush Merlot-based blends of the Right Bank of Bordeaux. The vines are planted right up to the town walls—which softens the austere sight of the rectangular 13th century King’s Tower—and among those vineyards, at the châteaux, I remember warm, friendly people.
From Château Soutard to Château Laniote, I got a taste of St-Émilion generosity, and due to sloshing the many red wines around in my mouth, my teeth acquired a purple, plum tone—a sure sign of a good day in St-Émilion.
Indeed, if I had a wine-barrel time machine, I know where I would go first: back to that warm day in beautiful St-Émilion.