The wines of Saint-Emilion, a skilful blend of grapes...
The three main grape varieties used to produce the wines of St. Emilion are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon
The variety of wines produced in Saint-Emilion is a result of the skilful blending of different grape varieties. The quality of a wine obviously depends on the organoleptic potential of the grapes which made it, qualities such as: sugar content, aromatic complexity, quantity and fineness of tannins, colour intensity etc. The three main varieties planted in St. Emilion are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The AOC classifications of Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru are also allowed to use two other grape varieties: Malbec (or Cot) and Carmenère. Of these only Malbec is still found, and only very occasionally.
Each grape variety has its own character, resulting from its ability to thrive in different soils. To achieve the best quality grapes, winegrowers choose the grape variety which will thrive in their particular natural environment.
- The Saint-Emilion and Saint-Emilion Grand Cru classifications are composed of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and a small scattering of Malbec.
- The Puisseguin Saint-Emilion and Lussac Saint-Emilion classifications are composed mostly of Merlot, 80% and 70% respectively, alongside Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
This grape is the most widely represented variety. An early-ripening grape, it thrives in almost all Bordeaux soils but especially appreciates the cool, moist, clay-textured soils of Saint-Emilion. Ages well and gives the wine its rich colour and alcohol content, along with good aromatic complexity (of ripe red and black fruits), suppleness and roundness, giving a silky sensation on the palate.
The Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is mainly planted in the Libourne region. Ripening neither very early nor particularly late, it is mostly cultivated in limestone soils or soils of a slightly warmer texture (sand or gravel). These grapes give the wine an aromatic subtlety, with a lightly spiced flavour, freshness and a pronounced tannic structure which allows the wine to age well.
A late-ripening variety particularly suited to hot, dry soils (sandy or gravelly or well exposed clay-limestone soils). These grapes give the wine spicy and complex flavours, as well as a tannic richness which makes for a long, harmonious ageing process.