A dry red wine from Bordeaux, France. Médoc is home to many of the
famous big name wines and is traditionally considered France's best red wine
The traditional Médoc style places heavy emphasis upon cabernet sauvignon,
with merlot and cabernet franc taking a secondary role. Malbec and petit
verdot are sometimes used in small quantities; carmenère is permitted but
rarely grown. A Médoc is less fruity than a St-Emilion or Pomerol
— this is largely due to the lower levels of merlot used.
Médoc wines benefit from at least two years of ageing. The better Médocs
should be aged for much longer, with some of the best wines taking a decade or
more to reach their best.
All good Médoc wine will be designated Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée
(abbreviated to AOC on wine lists). The Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur
labels may also be used. The Médoc appellation (formerly known as Bas-Médoc)
covers the northern-most peninsula of the region, whilst Haut-Médoc is used
for wines further up the Gironde river — these are not
indications of differing quality in themselves, although most of the very best
wines are from Haut-Médoc.
Within the Haut-Médoc region there are six further communal appellations:
- Very powerful and rich, but few prestigious vineyards. Best aged for
ten to fifteen years.
- Higher levels of cabernet sauvignon than most. Sometimes described as
being the silkiest of the Médocs. Best aged for around fifteen years.
- Moulis en Médoc
- The smallest of the communal appellations. Varying characteristics.
Typically best aged for around ten years, but varies depending upon the
vintage and vineyard.
- Home of some of the best Bordeaux reds. Can be aged for fifteen to
thirty years depending upon the vineyard; even less well suited to early
drinking than other Haut-Médocs.
- An ancient wine producing region dating back to at least the thirteenth century. Often described as the most muscular of the
Médocs. Varying aging potential.
- Between Margaux and Pauillac in style. Best aged for ten to fifteen
years, or longer for certain producers.
As well as the regional appellations, Médoc is also covered by the Bordeaux
Wine Official Classification of 1855 — with the exception of Château
Haut-Brion from Graves, all of the red great growths on this list are from
Médoc. The classification defines five additional labels for the very best
The premiers grands crus classés are the very best wines. From Médoc, only
Château Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac), Château Latour (Pauillac), Château
Margaux (Margaux) and Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac, promoted to this
category in 1973) can carry this designation. With the exception of the
occasional cult offering from Pomerol, these tend to be the most expensive red
The other four designations are, in decreasing order of excellence, deuxième
grand cru classé, troisième grand cru classé, quatrième grand cru classé
and cinquième grand cru classé. All of these wines carry very high price tags
— even if some are no longer quite as excellent as they were in 1855, the
prestige carried by the label makes these wines very popular.
Médoc should be decanted at least an hour prior to drinking and served at
room temperature. It is an ideal accompaniment to heavy roast beef and
roast lamb dishes.