We were invited, once again, to visit the Saint Emilion wine Co-operative, the Union de producteurs de Saint Emilion(UDP), for a tour of the production area and to renew our relationship with the Cooperative.
The drive down through rain drenched lanes flanked by rolling fields of immaculately manicured vines was a slow but delightful journey. Strange machines ran up and down the vines, heads bobbed as the workers tied up the rapidly growing branches and at one point a horse and ploughman were working the narrow lanes between the vines.
Saint Emilion rose slowly from the fields, the massive stonework dulled by the rain. The UDP plant is south of the city below the vine covered slopes on which the city rests. Inside we were taken through the newly refurbished sales area with bottles and cases reflected in the black mirrored ceiling. Once in the exhibition hall/conference room we were invited to have a light breakfast while the rest of the guests arrived. The walls displayed the works of artist Nane (Christiane Relave) and showed a progression of her works through 4 periods.
I will not go into the details of the tour as it followed the same route from sorting to bottling as described in my previous post on the UDP. However, the highlight for me, once more, was the visit to the row upon row of thousands of golden oak barrels full of wine maturing in the semi darkness. The aroma as you enter the cellar fills your nose with a warm glow and awakens the taste buds.
Returning to the exhibition area there was a short talk about the discounts available to any of our guests who choose to come for a visit and wish to buy wines from the UDP shop. Then we took part in a tasting session of three of their superb reds ending in a delightful, flavoursome Grand Cru.
Sometimes it is a hard life running Gites; but not today .