Pauillac is sandwiched between Saint Estèphe to the north and Saint Julien to the south on the River Gironde as it widens into its estuary. The town of Pauillac itself is a small port which has shipped wines since ancient times. Pauillac has been hailed as a legendary appellation having 3 Premiers Grandes Crus classés (1st great growths) out of the 5 in Bordeaux as well as having 15 Grande Crus Classés within its boundaries.
The great châteaux of Pauillac are Château Lafite, Château Latour and Château Mouton Rothschild. Pauillac's vineyards span 2700 acres and they produce wines of finesse, elegance, and intensity that can only be matched on rare occurrences elsewhere in the world.
Terroir and Grapes
Pauillac has undulating hills which are unusual in the Medoc and the soil contains heavy gravel which is important to the wine growing as it reflects the sun and allows excellent drainage. The gravel is mixed with touches of sand, limestone and iron in certain spots, provides just enough nutrients and minerals to give unique, virile, powerful wines with a great concentration of flavours.
Pauillac is the home of Cabernet Sauvignon based wines, with elements of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot as well.
Pauillac wines are rich, densely coloured, full bodied and profound with an elegant mix of black currants and cedary oak that is luxurious and distinguished when mature. There is a wide variation on this theme throughout Pauillac, in part due to the differing terrain across the region. The wines have an opulent bouquet with aromas of blackcurrant and cedar when they age. The best vintages of Pauillac will hold for decades or more, with the occasional example dating back to the turn of the 20th century. Though these examples are rare, it is a great indicator of the quality of Pauillac's wines.
Famous Chateaux and Recommended Wines
Pauillac is dominated by the great châteaux of the Rothschilds: the First Growths Château Lafite, and Château Mouton Rothschild and the 4th and 5th Growth Chateaux owned by them Clerc Milon, d'Armailhac, and Duhart Milon. One other First Growth has its home in Pauillac and that is Château Latour. It is also home to some of the most beautiful châteaux resembling those from Gothic fairy tales such as Chateaux Pichon Baron and Pichon Lalande.
Château Haut Bages Libéral is one of the least known Pauillac estates but produces good wines at very competitive prices. Since 1983 Haut Bages has been owned by the Jacques Merlaut's Taillan Group who also own Châteaux Chasse Spleen, Gruaud Larose, Citran and Cos d'Estournel. The estate is run by his grand daughter, Claire Villars Lurton, manager of Château Ferrièrre, Château La Gurge, and wife of Gonzague Lurton, owner of Château Durfort Vivens. Coming from the stable that it does and given the expertise in the wine making the château's profile is rapidly rising.