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Saint Emilion - Soil and Structure

Saint Emilion is a commune located around the town of the same name. It is on the right bank of the Dordogne River in the Bordeaux region of France. The appellation is 5,400 hectares in size. Within that area there are more than 1200 chateaux.

Saint Emilion can be logically assigned to four main categories based on the type of soil. Closest to the town of Saint Emilion is an area of deep limestone on fairly steep slopes. This area is the stereotypical Saint Emilion area. It covers about 2,400 hectares and has 11 of the 13 highest rated Chateaux. It is in this sector that Merlot grows and performs best.

Second largest in size at almost 2,000 hectares is a large flat along the Dordogne River. It is made of alluvial sand. Alluvial sand is sand that has been deposited by water. In this case the Dordogne River is the water and it has been bringing sand to the area over thousands of years.

A sandy plateau to the west of the town of Saint Emilion is about 1,200 hectares in size. It is the the 3rd largest area within the commune. The soil here is mostly aeolian sand (very fine sand brought by wind).

Finally, there is a 60 hectare area on the far west side of the commune of Saint Emilion (just bordering on Pomerol) that is made of gravel. This is where the other two of the highest rated chateaux of Saint Emilion (Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Figeac) are located. The gravelly soil makes a good home for the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties.