In the Southwest region of France called Aquitaine, bordering the largest European estuary named the Gironde, lies the small commune of Pauillac. This little community of around 5,000 people is home to one of the most highly-reputed vineyards for red wine in the country. All of 3000 acres of Pauillac vineyards are located within the Haut-Médoc region, a subdivision of Bordeaux vineyards. If geography is not your strong suit, it suffices to know that the grapes these small vineries owe their specificity to their extremely favorable geographic placement. Pauillac has benefited from its fortunate circumstances and has made a name for itself through centuries of fine wine production. Château Latour is the most famous winery from Pauillac, producing luxurious bottles of red wine that can easily exceed one thousand dollars, depending on their year.
Forty miles north of the city of Bordeaux, the wine growing commune of Pauillac sits on the left bank of the Gironde. This lucrative land is only 30 meters above sea-level, characterized by the gravel-like soil commonly seen in the Haut-Médoc region. The vast wooded area to its left serves to stave off strong winds and thus preserves an optimal climate for premium maturation of the fruit. Common vines recommended for this appellation are the Cabernet franc, the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot, among other variations of red grapes. Pauillac reds are considered “vins de garde,” meaning their flavors become more sophisticated with age. The finished product is a dark purple-colored wine that lightens over time to a ruby-amber tint, giving off aromatic combinations of cedar, vanilla, menthol and red berries, to name few. These red wines pair well with gamey meats such as lamb and veal.
Pauillac received its status as an AOC in 1936, but its renown was recognized well beforehand for being home to three out of five “Premiers Crus,” or extremely high quality “first growth” red wines: Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Mouton Rothschild. The growth system of categorization was established in 1855 under Napoleon III, who ordered a grand classification of Bordeaux wines by reputation of château and product price, which at the time were directly related to wine quality. This ambitious project resulted in the classification of 88 châteaux within five categories of excellence in descending order. (First growth, second growth, etc…) Of the 18 Pauillac red wines that made these rankings, five of them are named either first or second growths.