Region

ST EMILION AND BORDEAUX

bbbbbbThe Saint-Emilion vineyards are located in the north-east part of the Gironde department, on hillsides overlooking the Dordogne valley. The appellation has an outstanding microclimate and unique soils.

The view from Puisseguin towards St Emilion

 

PUISSEGUIN – ST EMILION

This Appellation, which was created in 1936, has the highest elevation (89 m) in the Saint-Emilion region. Its south and southeast exposure makes it a perfect winegrowing region; it has all the conditions necessary to ripen and produce healthy and concentrated grapes.

Although Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion is fairly hilly, the main component of its soils is the clay-limestone mix that is common to the region. But here it covers rocks from which the roots absorb the nutrition they require and sustain the vines during the hot and frequently dry summers.

Vineyards of BordeauxSt Emilion The blend remains faithful to traditional Saint-Emilion wines with Merlot dominating (60% of vines planted) due to the clay-limestone soils. In these conditions, it ripens easily even with the weather. Cabernet Franc, at 30%, is its preferred partner.

Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion lies at the heart of the ‘satellite’ titles of the Saint-Emilion appellation in the ‘right bank’ Libournais sub-region of Bordeaux.

Of all the satellite appellations, Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion has the strictest laws regarding the production of wine. The original legal document drawn up for the AOC classification states the individual plots of land where the appellation’s grapes must be grown.

The grape varieties permitted here are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is predominant, most often partnered with Cabernet Franc (known here as ‘Bouchet’). Cabernet Sauvignon is much less commonly planted in the cooler soils of the Saint-Emilion area in general, and only produces wines of reliable quality in very specific spots. The prevalence of Merlot (an early flowering variety) means that the appellation is susceptible to spring frosts and can lose the majority of its output in a cold year.

To qualify for the Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion appellation, wines must contain a minimum of 11% alcohol and come from vineyards planted to a density of less than 5500 vines per hectare. Wines made from hybrid vines or those under three years old do not qualify.

The four Saint-Emilion satellites are Saint-Georges-Saint-Emilion, Montagne-Saint-Emilion, Lussac-Saint-Emilion and Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion itself – all located to the north of Saint-Emilion town. Previously, Parsac-Saint-Emilion and Sables-Saint-Emilion were also valid appellations, but the four named above are those recognized in the early 21st century. They are known as satellites because the area’s more prestigious wine estates historically resented these supposedly inferior wines using the Saint-Emilion name. In the middle of the 20th century, several boundaries were changed and the villages of Lussac, Montagne, Puisseguin and Saint-Georges were granted their own independent Saint-Emilion appellations.

The Barbanne river, which runs roughly parallel to the Dordogne, marks the southern boundary of three of these appellations. The river is of particular significance here because it is the historical boundary between the ‘Langue d’oil’ and the ‘Langue d’oc’ – the northern and southern halves of old France respectively. It is from here that the Languedoc region derives its name.

Puisseguin wines generally have dense and deep colour. Not surprisingly, their nose includes notes of red berries (strawberry, raspberry) and even stone fruit such as plum or prune. But there are also hints of mint, fig, blackcurrant, liquorice and even calming sweet spices.

They are pleasing in the mouth, due to their fleshy and full texture that is never heavy. Delicately enveloped tannins are present and ensure a good potential for longevity.