When Balzac Communication invited us to a tasting of Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion here in Chicago, we jumped at the chance. That the tasting was held at the Palmer House Hilton, a beautiful old hotel, was icing on the cake.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saint-Emilion was founded in the 8th century and is about 25 miles Northeast of Bordeaux. Vineyards totalling about 13,500 acres produce approximately 6% of the red wine production in the Bordeaux area. Grapes are grown in a variety of terroir: southern slopes, plateau, northern slopes and gravely areas.
Saint-Emilion is made up of two appellations : Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. In the second, there is also Classification of Grand Cru Classé and Premier Grand Cru Classé châteaux, reviewed every 10 years, which allows wineries to move up as they meet the criteria.
Most of the vintners present poured us bottles from the 2009 and 2010 vintages, both with subtle aromas, a full palate, and, for the most part, beautifully balanced (though some were quite tannic and need more bottle time before drinking). As is usual, Laima and I preferred opposite styles - she liked the 2009s, while I preferred the younger 2010s.
While most of the wines were drinking quite nicely, we did agree on our favorite wines, and it turned out they are neighbors: Château Grand Corbin and Château Grand Corbin-Despagne - they share some great terroir!
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