Medoc Region Attractions
Médoc is a triangular peninsula northwest of Bordeaux that enjoys a mild climate, rarely touched by extreme temperatures. This can be attributed to its location between the two large water bodies of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gironde River, (hence the name "Médoc" which is derived from "middle land").Although the area is located near the ocean, the climate is not as damp as one might expect.
This is thanks to the pine forests to the west which shelter the region from the maritime climate.The soil in this region has deep layers of gravel which was carried down from the Massif Central and the Pyrenees. The gravel content results in excellent drainage and because the soil is poor, the vines must push their roots deep into the subsoil.The region has eight appellations: Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, St-Julien, Pauillac, St-Estèphe, Haut-Médoc and Médoc (the northern, or Bas Médoc).Dutch engineers who arrived in the 17th century assisted with the draining and filling in of Médoc's marshes. They also reclaimed bays and inlets and their work earned the region of northern Médoc the nickname "La Petite Hollande".
Château Mouton Rothschild
The museum at Château Mouton Rothschild was opened by the Baron Philippe de Rothschild in 1962. It features art displays including Persian beakers from the eighth and ninth centuries BC., Alsace tapestries, Ming vases, Delft pottery, Venetian glasswork and works by modern artists. The main hall is a former cellar.
Pauillac is a town of 6,500 which serves as capital of the Médoc. Most streets lead to the quay where mainly fishing boats and pleasure craft are docked. It was from here that the Marquis de Lafayette departed in 1777 to aid the American rebels.Not many châteaux are found in or around the town itself. For the most part they are spread across the commune, often around the small villages of St-Lambert and Bages to the south and Le Pouyalet to the north. The Maison du Tourisme et du Vin is in a modern building south of the quay and is open year-round. It will provide information on visiting the local châteaux.
Northern Medoc Region
The northern part of Médoc is called Bas-Médoc, or "Lower Médoc".Here the landscape is distinctly flatter than in other parts of the Médoc and the villages are smaller. The Dutch engineers who arrived in the 17th century to drain the region constructed numerous windmills; today only one remains - the restored mill near Château La Tour Haut-Caussan at Blaignan.Due to its northerly situation, the northern Médoc is influenced by a maritime climate.The Maison du Médoc is located in Lesparre, in the Place du Tribunal. It provides information visits to local châteaux.
St Julien Region
St-Julien is located just north of the Central Médoc, almost halfway up the peninsula to the north of Bordeaux.While many châteaux in the St-Julien region welcome visitors, most of them request advance notice. Casual visitors can try:Château Beychevelle, a 17th century property which is said to be one of the most beautiful in Médoc; Château Branaire-Ducru, an immaculate château nestled in its grounds opposite Beychevelle; and Château Lagrange which was taken over by a Japanese company in 1983.
St Estephe Region
St-Estèphe is the largest commune in the Médoc, with 1,220 hectares. Soil in this region is full of gravel and often lies under a bed of sand.St-Estèphe is surrounded by several villages that belong to the Haut-Médoc appellation, including St-Seurin-de-Cadourne, Cissac and Vertheuil. There are few hotels or restaurants in St-Estèphe; most visitors come mainly to see the châteaux. Information is available at the Maison du Vin of St-Estèphe on the square facing the church.