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A dip in the 1700s at Saint Èmilion

Saint Èmilion, France - June 2024

"And now we go back to the 1700s".

So began Vincent, a French oenologist, before leading us to the cellar beneath his estate where the bottles his vines produce are stored. 

Bordeaux, besides being one of the most elegant cities I have ever visited, is part of the French red wine regions. An hour's drive away, one finds oneself immersed in a familiar landscape, like our Langhe, but flat, among vineyards and isolated, stone buildings. 

I look out the window and feel fresh air and breathe in a mix of scents. 

Vincent is the seventh generation to take care of the family chateux. Their story begins in 1844 with the purchase of the Saint-Julien estate from the Guadet family, with an underground cellar for storing wine and three hectares of land. He worked as an oenologist among the vineyards of the new world of viticulture, California, Chile and Australia, to learn about different soils and techniques, but also 'what not to do' he reveals. 

Our tasting begins by entering a bourgeois villa in Saint Èmilion, with colourful wallpaper on the walls and antique furniture. It is the house where his parents still live today. After a few rooms, we find ourselves in a hidden courtyard at the back, a charming garden with small buildings: this is where it all begins. Here is the room where the first stages of wine production take place and the barrique cellar. Using a pulley, the bottles produced are transported to the cellar underneath once they are ready to rest.

With a very steep staircase we descend into the basement, without imagining what we later found. We come out into a beautiful underground tunnel, where pyramids of wine bottles rest here and there for years, 'at least four, otherwise it's not worth it!' Vincent tells us. 

The further we go, the more we can find wines even from the first decades of the 20th century, resting in 'private cellars' where it is not possible to take photos. The oldest one I saw dates back to the 1930s.

The tasting ends with a taste of the only wine they produce, with a bottle from 2012 and one from 2014, his and his wife's favourite vintages respectively. The former is more full-bodied and tannic on the palate, while the latter is more elegant and lighter. A wine composed of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc, which is harvested each year by hand. Each vintage is therefore a surprise, if it is the good year they even produce 20,000 bottles a year.

Saint-Émilion, Fracia
Chatezux de Gaudet, Saint-Émilion
The bourgeois villa
Chateaux de Gaudet, Saint-Émilion
The hidden courtyard
Chateaux de Gaudet, Saint-Émilion

Chateaux de Gaudet, Saint-Émilion
The stairs to the wine cellar
Chatezux de Gaudet, Saint-Émilion
The wine cellar

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