Montagne-Saint-Émilion

Montagne-Saint-Émilion is the largest satellite site of the Saint-Émilion appellation in the right bank Libournais sub-region of Bordeaux.

Montagne-Saint-Émilion surrounds the village of Montagne, three miles (4.8km) to the north of the town of Saint-Émilion. The appellation laws state that wines made from the Saint-Georges commune (recognised as an independent appellation in its own right) may also be labelled as Montagne-Saint-Émilion.

The grape varieties permitted within the appellation are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is the dominant variety by far, most often partnered with Cabernet Franc (known here as Bouchet). Cabernet Sauvignon is much less common in the cooler soils of the Saint-Émilion area in general, and only produces wines of reliable quality when planted in very specific spots. The prevalence of Merlot (an early flowering variety) means that Montagne-Saint-Émilion is susceptible to spring frosts and can lose the majority of its output in a cold year.

To qualify for the Montagne-Saint-Émilion appellation, wines must contain a minimum of 11% alcohol and come from vineyards planted to a density of less than 5,500 vines per hectare. Wines made from hybrid vines or those under three years old do not qualify.

The four Saint-Émilion satellites are Lussac-Saint-Émilion, Montagne-Saint-Émilion, Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion and Saint-Georges-Saint-Émilion – all located to the north of Saint-Émilion town. Previously, Parsac-Saint-Émilion and Sables-Saint-Émilion were also valid appellations, but the four named above are those recognised in the early 21st century. They are known as satellites because the area's more prestigious wine estates historically resented these supposedly inferior wines using the Saint-Émilion name. In the middle of the 20th century, several boundaries were changed and the villages of Lussac, Montagne, Puisseguin and Saint-Georges were granted their own independent Saint-Émilion appellations.

The Barbanne river, which runs roughly parallel to the Dordogne, marks the southern boundary of three of these appellations. The river is of particular significance because it is the historical boundary between the "Langue d'Oil" and the "Langue d'Oc" – the northern and southern halves of old France respectively. This is where the Languedoc wine region derives its name.
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