Quick! What does Saint Emilion mean to you? In your mind, does it represent the healing saint of the same name? Does it signify a quaint, ancient, walled village in Bordeaux? Or, for you wine lovers, does it represent chateaux offering quality, collectible wines?
Visiting vineyards in Saint Emilion is a special treat. Many are small and family-run. On my visit, I had the good fortune to have as my hosts the Laniote family. They have been making wine in St. Emilion for eight generations. While I can describe the high energy, passion for winemaking, and good humor of owners Arnaud and Florence de la Fillolie in words, drop by their web site for a fun, colorful peak at their approach to wine and family life.
If you have ever fantasized about what it might be like to leave the big city and move with your young children to a chateau in Saint Emilion, you will enjoy your visit with the Laniotes. The winery is open to the public (see their web site for hours and reservation policy)m and the de la Fillolie family speaks fluent English. Just breathing the peaceful air of this small estate and vineyard can motivate you to give up city life and devote yourself to the vines.
This is the job of the de la Fillolies, and a job they do very well with a great deal of pleasure and excitement. Rather than drag high-heeled guests into the vineyard, Arnaud instead invites them into the cellar where he has set up a screening room to condense a year’s worth of winery activities into an eight-minute film.
In the film we see workers picking, Arnaud punching down the cap (cake-y top of wine and grape skins as it macerates) and finally, Florence holding up a glass of the finished wine and speaking about its properties. Throughout the video, Arnaud entertains English-speaking guests by deliberately and hilariously mistranslating what is being said.
Despite this, I am led to understand the blend of their wine is 80 percent Merlot, 15 percent Cabernet Franc, and five percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is sand and clay, and they pick the grapes by hand – five days for Merlot and one day for Cabernet Sauvignon. Maceration is two to four days, after which they use an old-fashioned basket press. Wine is aged in oak, and produced and fired under Arnaud’s personal supervision.
Finally I taste the 2001 Chateau Laniote. It is a ruby color, medium intensity, with a very subtle floral aroma of violet and lilac, red fruit, and dry on the palate with a wonderfully light balance.
It is a delightful viewing and tasting experience.
Classification : St.-Emilion Grand Cru Classe
Area : About 12 acres
Aver. age of vines : 30 – 35 yrs
Blend : 70% Merlot ,20% Cab. Franc, 10% Cab.Sauv
Aver yields : 49 H.Liters/hect
Density of plantation : 6500 vines/hect
Aver. annual prod.:32000-35000 bottles
About the wine, the fermentations last 3 to 4 wks in temperature controlled concrete vats with temp. of 22-24 C at the beginning and 31-32 C at the end .wines are transferred to oak casks(35%-40% new) for aging. Approx. 25-35% yield is aged in 1 yr old barrels that have contained white wines(bought from other estates),the rest in 1 yr old barrels .Wines are fined and filtered with egg white.
The plateau of maturity is 3-9 yrs following the vintage.