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Médoc and Haut-Médoc

Médoc means "the land in between": it denotes an approximately 100-kilometre-long headland between the Atlantic and the Gironde estuary, where around 150 million bottles of red wine are produced every year.

Geography

Viticulture is only practised on a narrow strip of land, usually no more than five kilometres wide, along the Gironde (the name of the confluence of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers). A distinction is made between two appellations: Médoc basically applies to the whole vineyard area, but it almost always means the northern part of the peninsula (the "Bas-Médoc") – while Haut-Médoc relates to the southern part between Bordeaux and Saint-Seurin de Cadourne.

Terroir

The length of the peninsula means that the soils are very heterogeneous. Both the Médoc and the Haut-Médoc have impressive gravel knolls, but also soils with a stronger sand and/or loam content, sometimes over a limestone subsoil.

Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are grown here in practically equal proportions, though officially Cabernet still has the edge. Cabernet Franc is cultivated less and less, losing ground to old favourites Petit Verdot and Carmenère. But their share is still vanishingly small.

Style

In this extensive area of around 18,000 hectares, almost every style of Bordeaux wine is theoretically possible. A Médoc is usually characterized, however, by bite, power and a solid tannin structure – while the best Haut-Médocs are somewhat smoother and more rounded.

Best age for drinking

5-15 years for basic wines and vintages,10-30 years for top vintages and wines.

Popular wines from Bordeaux – Médoc & Haut-Médoc