A modern, bold red structure in the middle of a vast vineyard is definitely something that will surprise you.

Posted by Jennie

It’s been many months since our visit to Saint-Emilion, the heart of the wine region of France. While looking through my IG feed, I smile at how I captioned our day spent in Saint-Emilion. I wrote – May all days be as perfect as today!

That day began with our car and driver picking us up promptly at 8am in our Bordeaux Airbnb. I had found him through our landlady and he came highly recommended. His name was Christophe and he was from Dordogne, not very far away from Bordeaux. He immediately made all of us feel at home with his  gentle and engaging manner. As we drove toward Saint-Emilion, we easily fell into an animated conversation. Apparently he was very well travelled, loved to read, was into history and although he had never been to the Philippines, was very curious about the country and its culture. We found out that he was married to a Brazilian and that he was often in Brazil. He also spoke French, Portuguese, English, Spanish and Russian.

Our first stop was the beautiful medieval village of Saint-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site around 40 kilometres from Bordeaux. We spent sometime exploring the village with it’s narrow lanes, colourful shop fronts and shops full of crates and crates of wine and wine related merchandise. Bordeaux wine has after all been celebrated as the best wine in the world for hundreds of years. Famous first growths like Chateau Lafite,  Latour, Mouton, Haute Brion and Margaux are not only the world’s most expensive wines they are also wine estates found in the Saint-Emilion area.

The Monolithic Church of Saint-Emilion is partly subterranean.
Ruins of a 12th Century Dominican Monastery.
No need to hand carry! They ship worldwide.
Aside from wine, Saint Emilion is famous for almond macarons originally made by nuns in the 17th century.
The macarons use both sweet and bitter almonds imported from Spain.

There are plenty of quaint restaurants in the village of Saint-Emilion, but Christophe said he had made a reservation for us at a place called La Terrasse Rouge which was a few minutes away from the village. I was completely expecting a family run bistro with wooden tables and white tablecloths. So it came as a surprise when Christophe made a turn into a vineyard with no restaurant in sight, just a modern looking red structure – which turned out to be the restaurant.

Architect Jean Nouvel envisioned the reflecting steel to change with the light and the seasons.
A narrow staircase leads up to the deck.
Thousands of red glass gravel mimic red grapes.

At first glade, there is no entrance. Just a tall red wall. But upon closer inspection you will see a very narrow staircase that takes you up to an impressive deck that overlooks the vineyards of Chateau La Dominique. The restaurant with its floor to ceiling windows has wonderful 360 views of the vineyards.

There’s nothing stuffy about the restaurant, service is friendly and prices are surprisingly reasonable for the quality of the food. The menu is both traditional and contemporary with authentic recipes from South West France reimagined by the chef using the best seasonal ingredients from the region.

Tomato based amuse-bouche
Terrine platter
Succulent Roast Pork
Seared Duck Breast

We had a leisurely lunch that started with an amuse-bouche and ended with what Christophe declared was an excellent mille-feuille.

We drove around the rolling hills and vineyards all afternoon, stopped for photos, joined  a tour of a vineyard, did a bit of wine tasting and fell fast asleep on our way back to Bordeaux, induced by a satisfying meal and several glasses too many of Bordeaux no doubt.

A perfect ending to a perfect day.

If you ever find yourself in Bordeaux, be sure to book a tour with our new friend Christophe.