The vines, with an average age of 25 years, are planted on rather light, well-drained soils, 80% pure gravel, the rest a mix of gravel and clay. The vineyard is planted with 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc. Historically, the Elliès family, who have owned the estate for over 150 years, would sell their grapes but, in 1995, they decided to make their own wine. Considerable investment was necessary and new thermo-regulated tanks were installed, as well as a maturation cellar – all to improve quality. Daughter of the house, Nathalie, now works with her father in both the vineyard and cellar. They are very attentive, favouring ploughing and green harvesting to maintain consistent maturation. In the cellar, the wine is vinified in stainless steel, then partly (60)%) aged in oak, 50% new. Due to the terroir, this can never be a massively powerful wine – so much the better. The wine shows real character and wine lovers need such approachable, easy drinking wines. Charming and accessible, Barrail du Blanc produces a fine St-Emilion which makes people smile, without breaking the bank.