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The area also has pine forests and long sandy beaches. The Médoc's geography is not ideal for wine growing, with its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean resulting in a comparatively mild climate and high rainfall making rot a constant problem. It is generally believed that the nature of the region's wine derives from the soil; although the terrain is flat, excellent drainage is a necessity and the increased amount of gravel in the soil allows heat to be retained, encouraging ripening, and extensive root systems.
With the exception of Château Haut-Brion from Graves, all of the red wines in the 1855 Classification are from the Médoc. Many of the Médoc wines that are not in this classification were classified using the Cru Bourgeois system until 2007. Following legal challenges this category was abolished, and reintroduced in 2010 as an annual "mark of quality" depending on independent annual assessment.