I arrived for my first trip ever to Bordeaux this week, and began by driving directly from the Bordeaux airport to the beautiful town of St Emilion, an historic world heritage site and an incredible wine destination.
Travelling through the region was gorgeous, and coming upon the beautiful town of St Emilion was like coming to an oasis. The town, while not large, oozes charm, and has many tasteful stores, wine shops and small intimate restaurants to enjoy. The small city has narrow, winding cobblestone streets and structures and walls that date back to Roman occupation. It was overcast and lightly raining, and when the sun came out, the weather was like a warm summer evening, rather than the cool October evenings I left in Michigan.
I stayed in a flat overlooking a beautiful square and impressive Church spire in St Emilion owned by the UDP, Union de Productuers, a CoOperative of small petit chateaus and growers in the region who pool their resources together to make make great, affordable, St. Emilion wine like Gallius and Royal St Emilion.
For my first night, I met with James Sichel, of Maison Sichel, Edouard Braastad, and James nephew, Alex, and we all went to dinner just outside the town of St Emilion, to Terrasse Rouge, located in the beauiful winery of Chateau La Dominique. Now, as a long time lover and collector of Bordeaux, Chateau La Dominque happens to be one of my favorite wines – I had recently pulled and enjoyed a beautiful 1986 from my cellar, and I was absolutely thrilled to be able to go there. We passed by many of the Chateaus I have known only from enjoying their wines, Chateau Gazin, Chateau Figeac and others – and when we finally got to Chateau La Dominique, I discovered that it shares a property line with Chateau Cheval Blanc, one of my all time favorite wines, and one which I featured in a tasting that I did 9 years ago focusing on Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Franc based wine. NOW, I knew why I loved La Dominique wine so much, it shares such an amazing terroir with Cheval Blanc!
Chateau La Dominique’s new restaurant was designed by the famous architect in France, Jean Nouvel. It was beautiful, the food was amazing, and the conversation covered every topic imaginable. The greatest surprise of the night though was James chosen entre for dinner, and it is one of his favorites, and a regional specialty – Lamprey eel. In Michigan, Lamprey eels are an invasive species and I could never imagine eating one, but eat one I did, and it was amazing. It was like eating a slow cooked pot roast, only much leaner and much more flavorful. It was served in a small pot and the broth looked like the deep dark red wine reduction broth in a great french onion soup, with leeks. The broth was amazing. All of the food was great but that was the shock of the night. We shared a 2006 and a 2008 La Dominique, and the 2008 was my personal favorite.
Upon leaving the restaurant and gliding down the beautiful road that split Pomeral on my right and St Emilion on my left, I couldn’t believe what a beautiful, historic place the Bordeaux region is, and how thankful I am to finally get here. When I was dropped off, it was great to walk around the beautiful, narrow St Emilion streets at night, and watch the few restaurants that were still open close up. It was a great, memorable way to be introduced to the Bordeaux region.
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