Possibly Bordeaux's most famous wine-growing region, the Médoc's flat vineyards produce some of the biggest wines in the world. Some of the famous châteaux include Margaux, Palmer, Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite, Latour and Margaux.
Wine-growing here dates only dates back to the 17th century when the marshlands were drained to create grazing land. Its gravelly soil allows good drainage in this relatively damp area. The climate is temperate and pine forests on the coast shield the vineyards from the worst of the Atlantic winds. Red wines are predominant, created from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. Small quantities of Camenère, Malbec and Petit Verdot grapes are also grown. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant grape which allows the wine to cellar amazingly well.
The Médoc appellation covers a region of over 16,500 hectares. Within this appellation is a further eight appellations which include the two sub appellations of Medoc and Haut-Medoc. The six communal appellations are Saint Estephe, Pauillac, Saint Julien, Moulis en Medoc, Listrac Medoc and Margaux.
The Haut-Médoc appellation grows 'classed growth' wines which often are entitled to feature the village name in the title. These wines are deep and rich, and age well. This is the wine that is most often referred to as Claret. They tend to be a better quality than wine labelled with just 'Medoc'.
Margaux wines tend to be smooth and silky with delicate aromas. Moulis en Medoc is a small appellation and their wines are strong in tannins with develop over time to create powerful wines with appealing aromas. Listrac-Medoc use Merlot as their primary grape so the wine produced is more lively and fruity. They are best drunk after some ageing to allow the tannins to develop. Saint Estephe lies in the north of the Medoc region and produces wine high in tannins which become rounded and more elegant as the wine ages.
Pauillac is possibly the most famous appellation of the Medoc, it has the majority of the Premier Cru's within its appellation. Home to the renowned vineyards of Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild and Latour, the vines benefit from the fine gravelly soil, rich in iron and other mineral deposits. The wine becomes better and better as it ages, with it's complex aromas complementing the full bodied, tanin-rich end result.
Saint Julien is a small appellation of 700 hectares situated between Pauillac and Margaux. It tends to produce consistently great wines that combine the depth and body of Pauillac with the smoothness of Margaux. Full bodied and rich, they can have wonderful aromas.
The quality of the wine produced in Medoc is according to Cru. The Grand Cru Classe is the top dog, indicating a wine of exceptional quality. The Cru Bourgeois is the next rank down, followed by the Cru Artisan.
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