8 MEDOC APPELLATIONS
« What appeals to me in top-quality wine-making is that it is the opposite of the totalitarian concept. Its ambition is to encourage the development of a maximum amount of diversity on the smallest possible territory. » Erik Orsenna

On the left bank, the 8 Médoc appellations, which include the 2 sub-regional appellations (Médoc and Haut-Médoc) and the 6 communal appellations (Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Moulis en Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Margaux), share 16,500 exceptional hectares of vines, a terroir which from time immemorial has revealed outstanding talent and created wines of distinct personality.

Although these 8 AOCs are clearly different, they nonetheless have a certain family resemblance that can be explained by the application of similar production rules.

Generally speaking, artistic creation becomes meaningful only if its originality and its genius appears and develops within a clearly defined framework with established standards. Similarly, throughout its long life cycle, an AOC wine will evolve according to the methods laid down to finally reveal its richness and intrinsic character.
 
Delineation
Delineated geographically according to the criteria of the soil and sub-soil, of the relief of the land and of the presence of water, an AOC defines the extent of a vineyard region for which a producer may claim an appellation.
 
Planting
In the Médoc, no planting is allowed without administrative authorisation. Traditionally, there is a right for replanting after any pulling-up of vines to enable the regular renewal of the vineyards. A planting right, even when granted, cannot be used willy-nilly. Strict regulations cover every aspect: the number of vines per hectare, the type of training*, pruning, even the maximum number of buds left on the vine after pruning depending on the fertility of each grape variety. The purpose of such measures, laid down with due respect for tradition and according to tried and tested agronomic rules, is to create a planting density geared to optimal production from the vineyard.
When it is sufficiently dense, planting restricts the individual production of each vine and enables the development of the foliage necessary for the synthesis of the sugars and polyphenols*.
 
Grape varieties
In the Médoc, whilst the choice of the rootstock* is free, only Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cot (or Malbec), Petit Verdot and Carmenère are authorised.
 
The harvest
This is the crowning glory at the end of the whole year’s work and is also strictly controlled. The Harvest Banns, the date from which the earliest varieties may be picked, are pronounced by a commission composed of growers, technicians, oenologists and the relevant administrations. They are ratified by an order from the regional government representative.
 
Vinification
Again in accordance with local customs and the determination to craft an exceptional wine, vinification in the Médoc has created its own rituals. Destalking or destemming*, for example, is compulsory. Similarly, chaptalisation (enrichment with saccharose), usually authorised up to a maximum of 2°, enables the 8 AOCs to go from the statutory 10° and 10.5° to 12° for the Médoc and Haut-Médoc appellations and to 13° for the communal AOCs.
 
Yields
The annual authorised yield, expressed for practical reasons in hectolitres per hectare, is set each year by the National Committee of the INAO following proposals from the wine Syndicates.
 
Approval
Any grower claiming an AOC undertakes to observe the joint operational rules laid down by the Defence and Management Organisation (DMO) and drawn up in accordance with the legal texts. Starting in 2008, in the interests of optimal quality, growers and merchants will be authorised to bottle their wine under a given AOC only if they comply strictly with the specifications drawn up by the DMO (formerly the wine Syndicate) for the AOC in question. An agency independent of the DMO will verify compliance with the specifications and will ensure, through random inspections in both cellars and vineyards, that the production conditions have been met. This independent agency will also analyse samples of wine taken at the time of bottling (with 6 bottles per sample and as many samples as there are types or brands) and will subsequently organise tasting sessions in order to accept, adjourn or refuse the wines depending on their visual, olfactory and tasting qualities.
 
L'abus d'alcool est dangereux pour la santé, à consommer avec modération.