|Type||Appellation d'origine contrôlée|
|Part of||Bordeaux Left Bank, Médoc AOC|
|Sub-regions||Margaux AOC, Listrac-Médoc AOC, Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, Saint-Julien AOC, Pauillac AOC, Saint-Estèphe AOC|
|Climate region||Oceanic climate|
|Soil conditions||gravel, chalk, clay|
|Total area||4,657 ha (11,510 acres)|
|No. of vineyards||392|
|Grapes produced||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Carménère|
|Wine produced||32,600,000 bottles
217,656 hl (5,749,900 US gal)
Haut-Médoc is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for wine in the Bordeaux wine region of southwestern France, on the Left Bank of the Gironde estuary. Covering a large part of the viticultural strip of land along the Médoc peninsula, the zone covers approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) of its length.
As defined by the original Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO) decree of November 14, 1936, its southern edge borders the city of Bordeaux and the Médoc AOC to the north, encompassing fifteen communes exclusive to the appellation, while at the same time it enclaves six appellations made up of nine communes (Margaux AOC, Listrac-Médoc AOC, Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, Saint-Julien AOC, Pauillac AOC and Saint-Estèphe AOC) that are technically wine-making communes of Haut-Médoc. Similarly, Haut-Médoc is a sub-appellation of the Médoc AOC.
Of Haut-Médoc's fifteen wine-producing communes, eight are located along the waterfront of Garonne and Gironde: Blanquefort, Parempuyre, Ludon, Macau, Arcins, Lamarque, Cussac and Saint-Seurin-de-Cadourne. Seven communes lie inland: Le Taillan, Le Pian-Médoc, Avensan, Saint-Laurent-Médoc. Saint-Sauveur, Cissac and Vertheuil.
Few of the estates falling within the generic Haut-Médoc appellation were included in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 (as all but six of the 61 are located within the AOCs Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe), but several were included in the classification Cru Bourgeois.
For most of its history, the Haut-Médoc was a vast region of salt marshes used for animal grazing rather than viticulture. In the 17th century, Dutch merchants began an ambitious drainage project to convert the marshland into a usable vineyard area. Their objective was to provide the British market a wine alternative to the Graves and Portuguese wines that were dominating the market. Using technology that was advanced for that time, the Dutch were able to convert enough marshland to allow large estates to form all along the Gironde. Soon the Bordeaux wine regions of Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe took shape. By the 19th century, the wine region of the Haut-Médoc was one of the most prosperous in France, with wines that had an international reputation that would be unparalleled till the late 20th century.
The area covers approximately 4,600 hectares of declared vineyards, constituting 28.5% of the Médoc total, annually producing on average 255,000 hectolitres of wine. The variation in types of soil is greater than other appellations in the region, ranging from less than ideal terrain, to conditions on a par with some of the enclaved appellations of more celebrated reputation.
Of the permitted grape varieties of Haut-Médoc, 52% of the viticultural area is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, with additional cultivation of Merlot, Petit Verdot and to a small degree Malbec (locally called "Cot"). Also permitted under the regulations of the AOC are the varieties Cabernet Franc and Carménère.
The INAO specifiactions demand the following production norms: a high planting density, a minimum of 6,500 plants per hectare, and minimum of sugar, 178 g (6.3 oz) per litre of must, maximum base yield of 48 hectolitres per hectare, and a minimum alcohol by volume of 10%.
Of the 392 viticultural properties of Haut-Médoc, 150 participate in winemaking cooperatives, the other 242 being independent wineries.
Notes and references
- Medoc.com. "Haut-Médoc dossier".
- Peppercorn, David (2003). Bordeaux. London: Mitchell Beazley. pp. 240–284. ISBN 1-84000-927-6.
- Lichine, Alexis (1967). Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits. London: Cassell & Company Ltd. pp. 347–353.
- Robinson, Jancis, ed. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 434. ISBN 0-19-860990-6.
- Kissack, Chris, thewinedoctor.com. "Médoc, Médoc".
- Anson, Jane, Decanter (July 10, 2007). "Cru Bourgeois classification officially over".
- Anson, Jane, Decanter.com (May 13, 2010). Former Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnels boycott new system