Where cabernet sauvignon and merlot reign supreme

The Médoc is a magnificent region of the Bordeaux vineyards entwined by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gironde estuary on the other. It enjoys a beautiful sunshine accentuated by the reflection on the water, precipitation from the Atlantic and constant ventilation.

By Jessica Harnois and Mélanie Frappier

What are the characteristic red grape varieties of Bordeaux and therefore of the Médoc? Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. In general, the west of the Médoc is dominated by Merlot, in particular due to a cooler clay soil, and to the east by Cabernet Sauvignon, based on a gravel soil favoring heat retention and benefiting its proximity to the Gironde estuary.

This region benefits from a long maturing season not punctuated by great heat surges, thus providing an environment conducive to the development of Cabernet Sauvignon which matures later than Merlot.

Medoc classifications

Three classifications exist for red wines from the eight Médoc appellations:

Grands Crus Classés

The first classification of Médoc wines took place during the Universal Exhibition of 1855. This classification was then revised in 1973 when 60 Médoc châteaux were classified according to five levels of vintages: 4 Premiers Crus, 14 Deuxièmes Crus, 14 Third Growths, 10 Fourth Growths, 18 Fifth Growths. This breakdown of the Grands Crus Classés is still in effect today.

Crus Bourgeois

This classification brings together several quality crus which have remained in the shadows after the classification of the Grands Crus Classés of 1855. The most recent classification was carried out in February 2020 and devotes 249 châteaux for five years now divided into three levels: Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Superior and Exceptional Cru Bourgeois.

Artisan wines

Cru Artisan is a denomination that has existed for over 150 years. It refers to small wine-growing properties that then belonged to artisans, such as coopers or blacksmiths. This distinction is awarded to properties with a family-sized structure managing all stages of production, namely viticulture, vinification and marketing of wines while respecting the standards of controlled designation of origin. This classification is reviewed every 5 years and there are currently around thirty properties classified for the 2017 to 2021 vintages.

Medoc Vineyard

Here are some fine examples of recently tasted Médoc wines:

Château Haut Blaignan Médoc Cru Artisan 2016Château Haut-Blaignan, Médoc, Vintage Artisan 2016

This wine is made from a blend of Merlot (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%). The dominance of Merlot contributes to the aromas of red fruits, such as strawberries and red cherries. Notes of tobacco and cocoa also emerge while the tannins are supple and silky. This wine is ready to drink and definitely offers great value for money! It will go well with a flank steak with shallots. (18,70$)

Château De Villegeorge Haut-Médoc 2018Château de Villegeorge, Haut-Médoc, 2018

The grape varieties composing this blend are Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (20%) and Petit Verdot (10%). On the nose, the bouquet includes notes of spices, such as nutmeg and cloves, and woods resulting from a vinification of 12 months in French oak barrels including 20% ​​new wood. On the palate, we perceive fruity aromas of black cherries and plums as well as supple tannins, despite its youth. This wine presents a very good aging potential of around ten years. Do you want to taste it now? Why not! After having decanted it for two or three hours, serve it with a rack of lamb with tomatoes and olives. ($ 29.50)

Château Branas Grand Poujeaux Moulis-en-Médoc 2016Château Branas Grand Poujeaux, Moulis-en-Médoc, 2016

This is a Cru Bourgeois 2016. This wine is a blend of Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (45%) and Petit Verdot (5%). Notes of black fruits, including blackberry and cherry, toast and mocha emerge. Considering that the wine has aged in 70% new oak barrels, its tannins are still very silky and really well integrated. What a powerful and elegant wine, offering excellent value for money and very good aging potential! It will go perfectly with a Wellington beef. (58,25$)

So which one will you taste? Health ! Jessica and Mélanie

Lawyer and sommelier, Melanie Frappier is involved in the development of the Jessica Harnois Wine Club, in particular for the VIP Club (privately imported wines). She also hosts wine tastings based on the Mystery Wine game and writes columns in collaboration with Jessica Harnois. In addition, she has twenty years of experience in law firms and in legal services. of a large company, including 10 years as a team and project manager. Sommellerie is his new passion.

Sommelier, speaker and entrepreneur, Jessica Harnois is today a recognized public figure in the business field and an influential sommelier in Quebec but also internationally. In 2019, she won the Prix Femmes d’affaires du Québec (small business category) awarded by the Réseau des femmes d’affaires du Québec. In the spring of 2021, she launched the Jessica Harnois Wine Club in which she offers online courses.