ABOARD THE VIKING FORSETI — The new Chateaux, Rivers and Wine itinerary from Viking River Cruises includes a visit to Saint-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval lanes of the charming town twist and turn through ancient storefronts, many of which feature local wines from the Saint-Emilion appellation.
The Romans planted vineyards here back in the second century AD. You will only find red wines produced in the region. Taking a taste exploration through the wines produced in Saint-Emilion could last all day, just by visiting the many stores and cafes tucked away on the uneven city streets. Don’t let that keep you from enjoying the historic structures and magnificent city views, though.
One of the town’s best kept secrets, quite literally, is the underground church. The Saint-Emilion Monolithic Church is carved out of rock underneath the chapel above with its distinctive bell tower rising high above the town. The subterranean church is kept extremely dark, and it can be a challenge to appreciate the unique structure as your eyes adjust to the darkness. The damp atmosphere has been silently eroding the massive structure, and you will witness the modern supports created underground to help keep the church above ground from collapsing under its own weight.
After a quick visit to Saint-Emilion, we boarded a motor coach for an optional tour excursion to Chateau Siaurac. Located on the border of the Saint-Emilion and Pomerol appellations, the Chateau is now owned by Aline and Paul Goldschmidt.
Paul Goldschmidt led a tour of his private family home, currently undergoing some renovations. Next it was off to the vineyards, to walk the vines with the man who owns them, followed by a tour of the production facilities and wine cave. But what good would a chateau visit in the middle of wine country be without a tasting, right?
Goldschmidt led us in a tasting of three of the wines produced on site. The crowd was exuberant, as the red wines flowed, paired with local bread and cheeses. No doubt that many tasters want to bring a bottle home. Though you can buy a bottle and bring it back in your suitcase, the entrepreneurial spirit of Goldschmidt figured out a way to let the U.S. market indulge in his wine without worrying about a bottle of red wine spilling on all of your clothes. He has a container shipment already in California, and after a visit to the Chateau, you can get ordering information to have the wines easily shipped from California to a U.S. address.