Châteaux Simard & Haut-Simard
Unless you are heading into the town after a visit in Pomerol or Castillon, I suspect most visitors approach St Emilion from the plain below. Turning off the main road which otherwise heads out towards Bergerac, and driving past the railway station up in the direction of the town, the road is at first level but it naturally begins to climb once it has reached the foot of the côtes. All around there are vineyards, and as you approach the town these rise up on the left, so much so that before long they sit atop a limestone wall, looking down onto the road which looks as though it might have been carved out of the ground at this spot. Meanwhile, to the right a small amphitheatre has opened out, the opposite slope covered with rows and rows of neatly pruned Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines. A sign at the side of the road announces, as if there were any doubt, that you have arrived in St Emilion.
What the vast majority of visitors may not realise, however, is that most of these vines in this amphitheatre belong to one family, the head of which is currently Alain Vauthier. On the left, by now hidden from view by that limestone wall, are the vineyards of Château Ausone. To the right lie the vineyards of Château Moulin Saint-Georges and then Château La Clotte, the latter a more recent addition to the portfolio. These are not, however, the first Vauthier vines you have passed on this journey; to see these, you have to turn around, and head back down towards the aforementioned railway station. Here we find the vineyards of Château Haut-Simard and Château Simard, which have been under Alain Vauthier’s control since 2008.
Although the presence of these two labels seems to indicate we have here two separate châteaux, this is not quite true. There are indeed two vineyards, but these have a common origin, they are directly adjacent to one another, and the fruit is vinified in the same cellars, by the same team. It seems reasonable, therefore, to look at both wines together in this joint profile.