jueves, 13 de diciembre de 2012

Union de Producteurs de Saint Emilion


Situated on the right bank of the Gironde, Saint-Emilion is the oldest wine area of the Bordeaux region. In 1999, UNESCO recognized the great terroir of Saint Emilion and put the site on the World Heritage List. The region’s red wines are predominantly Merlot-based giving robust, generous and rich styles.
Created in 1931, the Union de Producteurs de Saint-Emilion is today one of the most important co-operative unions in France. 

When visiting producers in Bordeaux, it’s easy to forget about négociant houses and cooperatives, but both make for fascinating alternatives to the individual producers, and give you a better overview of the market. More and more cooperatives in Bordeaux are grouping together to strengthen their marketing and production power, but Saint Emilion seems to have been pretty successful on its own. A lot of money has been spent here in recent years, and it shows – you will discover a space age winery, and an underground cellar able to hold 4,500 barrels. Their website has a direct sales facility.

The oenothèque shop, with tours, is open from Monday to Saturday from 08.30 - 12.00 and 14.00 - 18.00, with wines starting from €5 a bottle. Free tour and tasting. English spoken. Groups welcome (up to 50 people). Interesting presentation of the cooperative system, and the historical background to the Union.


- Merlot Country: Merlot has become the king grape variety of the Libourne wine-growing area. It prospers in most of the planet's wine-producing countries, but no one can deny that it is Bordeaux that expresses to the fullest its complexity and typicity.

It is rich in alcohol. To continue to produce what are truly great wines, its yield has to be controlled. When the product of loving care and attention, it creates silky, light and supple, velvety wines, brimming with charm and finesse.

The two Cabernets, Franc and Sauvignon, are the traditional complements of Merlot in Saint Emilion. They are known for lending wine a certain elegance and great aromatic persistence. Little Verdot only occupies a few rows. This is a late and very fragile variety, potentially rich in colour and tannins. Malbec, also known as Pressac, is also in the minority although less so than little verdot.

- Terroirs: Hillsides and plateaux, high terraces and low plains, rocks, sands, molasse and asteria… Depending on where you are at any given moment, whether Saint Emilion, Saint-Christophe des Bardes, Saint Etienne de Lisse, Saint Hyppolite, Saint Laurent des Combes, Saint Pey d’Armens or Saint Sulpice de Faleyrens, the terroir (soil) is different.

The vines draw their sap from clayey-limestone, sandy, silty or gravelly oil, so diverse, so different. The face of the landscape changes so much, with stony plateaux and expanses of alluvia, a diverse collection of rounded tops, slopes, hillsides and amphitheatres... The vines here have colonised even the sparsest soil, exposing themselves to the sun and the wind, their favourite diet.

- Traditions and Gastronomy: These woods offer up a number of delicacies, such as chanterelle mushrooms and thrushes. Saint Emilion has forged an image based on tradition and gastronomy, and like the town's famous macaroons, it has often been copied but never has it been equalled.

Shad and lamprey fishing in the Dordogne is another fine example of this! Lamproie à la bordelaise made with Saint Emilion wine is the most popular lamprey recipe. The ultimate is to open a bottle of the same wine used for the sauce, only ten years older.


It was in 1986 that the Union de Producteurs equipped itself with a computer-assisted grape reception system, with a view to ensuring the separate vinification of its 58 châteaux representing half of its production, as well as a variety of commercial brands from a selection of terroirs. The company then invested in thermoregulation for each of its vinification vats, to ensure perfect control and the best extraction from the colouring matter and the tannins. In addition, all the vats were linked to an inert gas network to protect the wine from oxidation.

Meanwhile, the Union relocated its bottle ageing and conditioning operations to an air-conditioned warehouse accommodating 8 million bottles and brought in an automated line that prepares bottles for shipping at a rate of 6000 bottles per hour. This relocation opened the way for a 5000 barrel storehouse with a barrel washing line, priority for which is given to the maturing of its Saint Emilion Grand Cru.

At the beginning of 2002, the Union invested in a bottling machine set up in fully renovated premises. The unit operates at a rate of 9000 bottles per hour and meets all relevant health and safety standards. Also, that seame year a new vat room was built above the barrel warehouse, boasting 140 stainless steel vats with a capacity of 20,000 hectolitres. Because the quality of grapes is naturally of the essence, a grape-to-vat gravity-based transfer system is used. New grape reception hoppers will be linked by automaton to each of the cellar's vinification vats, thus ensuring complete traceability of the châteaux and brand wines.


Andeli; Aurélius; Côtes Rocheuses; Emilio; Galius; Lahire; Pagus Novertas; Roy Charles; Royal Saint-Emilion.

- Galius 2009 (Gran Cru A.O.C Saint-Emilion):
Drinking well. Round and warming. Good fruit. Tannins are well integrated. Price: €21

- Château Lamartre 2010 (Gran Cru A.O.C Saint-Emilion): Is big and rich in flavor and aromas of ripe blackberry, damson and black cherry fruit. Sweet, juicy tannins, spicy cinnamon and cedar oak with lively acidity. Price €18

Union des Producteurs de Saint Emilion
Haut Gravet, BP 27 33330 Saint-Emilion
Gironde  Aquitania, Francia
Tel : +33(0)557247071

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