Blaye is also defended by the Fort Pâté on an island in the river and the Fort Medoc on its left bank, both of the 17th century.
Under the better growths of the Medoc and Graves.
The finest wines of the Medoc and Graves are largely grown on a mixture of gravel, quartz and sand with a subsoil of alios or clay.
The Gironde viticultural region is divided into six main districts, namely, Medoc, Sauternes, Graves, Cotes, Entre-deux-Mers and Palus.
The most important subdivision of the Gironde district is that of the Medoc. It is here that the wine which is known to us as claret is produced in greatest excellence and variety.
The Medoc consists of a tongue of land to the north of Bordeaux, bounded by the Garonne and Gironde on the east, and by the sea on the west and north.
The principal vines grown in the Medoc are the Cabernet-Sauvignon, which is the most important, the Gros Cabernet, the Merlot, the Carmenere, the Malbec, and the Verdot.
Very little white wine is made in the Medoc proper.
This dwarf system of culture gives the Medoc vineyards at a distance the appearance of a sea of small bushes, thereby producing an effect entirely different from, for instance, that seen on the Rhine with its high basket-shaped plants.
The methods of making the wine in the Medoc are of the simplest description.
The Medoc is divided into a number of communes (such as St Julien, Margaux, Pauillac, &c.), and in these communes are situated the different vineyards from which the actual name of the wine is derived.
This classification of the Medoc growths became necessary owing to the great variety of qualities produced and the distinct characteristic excellence of the individual vintages.
The " classed growths," which include all the most famous wines of the Medoc, are themselves subdivided into five sections or growths.
The following is a list of the classed red wines of the Medoc (i.e.
Classed Growths Of The Medoc (Claret) First Growths.
The quality of the Medoc red wines (and this applies also to some of the finer growths of the other Bordeaux districts) is radically different from that of wines similar in type grown in other parts of the world.
The vines, the methods of viticulture and vinification as regards the red wines of the Graves district, are similar to those of the Medoc. The wines are, if anything, slightly fuller in body and more alcoholic than those of the latter region.
They possess a characteristic flavour which differentiates them somewhat sharply from the Medoc wines.
The Graves contains one vineyard, namely Château Haut-Brion, which ranks in quality together with the three first growths of the Medoc. The remainder of the red Graves are not classified, but among the more important wines may be mentioned the following: in the commune of Pessac, Château La Mission and Château PapeClement; in the commune of Villenave D'Ornon, Château La Ferrade; in Leognan, Château Haut-Bailly, Château Haut-BrionLarrivet and Château Branon-Licterie; in Martillac, Château Smith-Haut-Lafite.
The general configuration of the country is markedly different from that of the Medoc, consisting of a series of low hills rising easily from the river.
The grapes are allowed to remain on the vines some three to four weeks longer than is the case in the Medoc, and the result is that they shrivel up and become over-ripe, and so contain relatively little water and a very large quantity of sugar.
The finer growths of the Sauternes are classified in much the same way as the red wines of the Medoc. There are two main growths, the wines being as follows: - Classification Of Sauternes Grand First Growth.
It produces wines of a decidedly bigger type than those of the Medoc, and is frequently called the Burgundy of the Bordeaux district.
This district produces both red and white wines, but their character is not comparable to that of the Medoc or of the Cotes.