THÉS DE PU’ER ET VINS DE SAINT-EMILION
If the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac wines and Pu’Er teas are both from a thousand-year history, they also have much in common in their making process. Between terroir, aromatic concentration research and assembly, discover what these two exceptional drinks share.
THE TERROIR, THE BRAND OF SAINT-EMILION-POMEROL-FRONSAC WINES AND PU'ER TEAS.
Despite the 10,000 kilometers that separate them, the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac winegrowers and Pu’Er tea producers are committed to the same concept of terroir. In the Yunnan province, southern China, there are three great Pu’Er tea terroirs. These teas are grown in Xishaungbanna, in the district of Pu’Er and in Lincang. These are three very contrasting terroirs, with over 600 kilometers between the southern part of Xishaungbanna and the north of Lincang. In the north, the tea plants have a relatively temperate climate, while the southern area of production is subject to a humid tropical climate. The Pu’Er teas therefore have a great variety, depending on the terroirs on which they are grown. We find this “terroir effect” in the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac appellations, even though geographically on a much smaller scale. On a distance of 45 km, ten appellations of Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac form a mosaic of terroirs, which give the wines a unique character. The territory of the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac wines is built around a limestone plateau, bordered by the river Dordogne in the south. From this central elevation, the land meanders gently, from valleys to valleys. The plateaus and hillsides promote the drainage of the soil. In the folds of the landscape lies a true sea of vines.
PU’ER TEAS AND SAINT-EMILION-POMEROL-FRONSAC WINES, CONCENTRATED AROMAS
The other common uniqueness of the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac wines and Pu’Er teas is the search for concentrated aromas. For tea, the altitude is a crucial criterion to produce grands crus. The best plants are in the altitude gardens, where water flows downhill.
The tea plant needs to experience some water stress to concentrate the flavors, just like the vine. One of the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac winemakers’ expertise is to have selected terroirs where the plant flourishes, on the edge of the water deficiency, for it to expresses all its aromatic potential in its grapes.
For tea, the aromatic concentration varies with the harvesting season. Unlike the vine, which only knows one annual harvest, the tea plants are harvested four times a year. For the Pu’Er, spring teas are the most famous. At the end of winter, after 4 months of dormancy, the tea plants have leaves with a concentrated aroma that will not be found again in the year.
SAINT-EMILION-POMEROL-FRONSAC WINES AND PU’ER TEAS, SUBTLETY OF ASSEMBLIES
The Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac wines are known for their great aging ability, which exceeds several decades. This is also the case of the Pu’Er teas. The most prestigious crus can age for more than fifty years, or even reach a hundred years. The Pu’Er can be enjoyed loose but also as a patty, the most common model weighs exactly 357 grams. To make these patties, the concept of assembly is fundamental. The range of parameters which we can play with is very wide: the terroir, the age of the tea plant, the fineness of the harvest, or the degree of domesticity of the plant (wild or semi-wild tea plants each have specific aromas). Tea shops or Pu’Er collectors can also ask to assemble leaves from several seasons to achieve a subtle aromatic balance.
For the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac wines, the assembly depends on the grape varieties. The merlot, fruity and creamy gives black fruit aromas, while the cabernet franc is known for its red fruit aromas, spicy notes and its great finesse. Finally, the cabernet sauvignon is the backbone of the great wines of Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac, bringing power and ability to last for years.