We rose on time today and drove back to St. Emilion to get the tours that we didn’t have time to hit last visit. The first stop we wanted to made, and were just in time for, was the tour of the Catacombs and Monolithic church of St. Emilion.
St. Emilion himself was a hermit who lived in a cave in the hillside, and was sought out widely for his miracles. Apparently his first miracle was turning a loaf of bread into wood. I would have thought that the other way around would be more useful, but we go to heaven with the miracles we have, not the miracles we want.
We were given a tour of his cave in the rock, which had pretty much been carved out, and archeologically destroyed by Monks over the years to make it more impressive. The only thing original remaining was his chair carved into the rock.
That’s pretty tragic really, because so many of the the things like this are gone from a historical perspective, and we have to guess about what it really looked like. next we were shown a small chapel next built by the local monks, which is suitably unimpressive so that you will be truly impressed by the real catacombs and Church.
We were led down the burial crypts next, which still had bones strewn about, but were mostly clean. Apparently they had been mostly lost for years, and were rediscovered when a local merchant went to expand his wine cellar and found the crypts. needless to say he didn’t get to keep his wine there.
The Monolithic church itself is a huge church carved out of a solid block of limestone that makes the hillside. It is apparently in danger of collapse, due to years of neglect, and as such has massive metal support brackets holding the place together. They are going to do some electrolysis thing to reinforce the stone, but that is years into the future. All in all it was amazing.
After a fantastic lunch, and some more tourism (purchasing local baked goods and forms to make the same at home) we headed out to another winery.
We had planned on stopping at a few wineries on the way back to the hotel, but this ended up being our only stop. As we pulled into the drive, a man ran out waving wildly and running to a door at the lower part of the drive. This turned out to be the winemaker who have the tastings, and he wanted to make sure we didn’t head out too far into the working vineyards.
This was Patrick, a fifth generation winemaker in the family, and he loved showing off his wine. They have a premier line and a value line of wines. he let us try one of his value line, and once we took a quick sip, he grabbed our glasses and told us how mediocre that wine was compared to their real wine, and threw the wine out.
He then poured us hefty samples from 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, and we were really impressed. We looked at the list to pick up a few bottles, and asked how the 2006 was. Patrick pointed to the barrels behind us and smiled. He then grabbed his pipette, and got us a barrel tasting of the 2006. This was really fantastic stuff, for each wine he went into detail on what made that year special, what he preferred, and how he thought that the 2006 was going to be better than them all. He even gave us a peek into the family cellar, which had all the dust, mold, and wine that you might expect.
Needless to say we packed up on almost a case of his wine, including a Magnum of the 1998. This is probably the best tour we have had at any winery, and the exact reason why we came out here.