This huge appellation around the gorgeous medieval hill town of Saint-Emilion is the most fascinating of Bordeaux
, with more than 12,000 acres broken down among a dizzying number of mostly small châteaux. Cabernet Franc
has long been the favored grape in most of the region, but the percentage of Merlot
, particularly on soils rich in clay, is sizable and growing. Styles vary tremendously within this large area, depending on soil, blend of varieties and vinification and aging of the wines. Many of the finest wines come from two very different areas within the appellation: a limestone-rich escarpment around the town of Saint-Emilion (the Côtes; some of the best are Ausone and Pavie), and a sand and gravel plateau adjacent to Pomerol
(the Graves; includes Cheval Blanc and Figeac).