Pauillac wine is from a communal AOC in Medoc France. This Bordeaux region is home to some of the biggest names in the red wine industry including Chateau Latour, Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.
Wines from the Pauillac appellation lead with Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine makers here also use Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to round out their blends.
More than 60% of the vines grown are Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot makes up about 30%. Cabernet Franc is about 6% of the plantings. Less than 1% of the vineyard plantings are Petit Verdot.
Does this mean all Pauillac wine includes 60% Cabernet Sauvignon? Not exactly. Some chateaux include a little more - some a little less - so it balances out. However, it's a good average percentage to use as you are getting familiar with these wines.
Each wine maker also includes a slightly different percentage of the other three red grapes mentioned above. These small variations allow each wine maker to create their own 'perfect' Pauillac wine.
Pauillac wine is often full-bodied and takes between 5 and 30 years to age (the better the vintage - the longer you can age it). All the reds here are fine wines that are mellow and elegant.
This appellation, or AOC (definition), sits in the heart of the Medoc region within Bordeaux. It's on the left bank of the Gironde River.
The wine producers here center around the small town of Pauillac - which is where the region got its name.
This small designated growing area has more than 70 chateaux and even more wine growers. Here is another picture from my last visit. This shows vineyards in the Pauillac region - taken from inside the sorting room at Chateau Pontet Canet (read about my visit here).
Producers first planted vines in this area in the middle of the 13th century. This area continued to expand as a popular wine producing area and eventually turned into a separate Medoc wine AOC.
You will find some of the highest quality wines in Bordeaux produced by chateaux in this region. Eighteen of them are a part of the prestigious 1855 Classification (learn more about this classification).
Of the more than 70 wineries in this region, the eighteen wines in this classification produce more than 85% of all Pauillac wine.
Here is a list of the producers in this region included in the 1855 Classification:
Since most wines here are part of the 1855 Classification, you will find that they are quite pricey. For the lesser known Cinquiemes Crus, you can buy them for around $40 to $80 a bottle. Premiers Crus Pauillac wine, such as Latour, can go for as much as $2,000 a bottle for top vintages.
Pauillac wine aging in the barrels at Pontet Canet -
just one of the 1855 Classification chateaux here
One of the ways to get a 'discount' on these wines is to buy futures. This means you buy it before its bottled. This finances the bottling process - while allowing you to buy it at a fraction of the cost it will be after its bottled.
Some of the best, most recent vintages here are 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010.
You can find these either at specialty high-end wine shops or online at Wine.com (find Pauillac wine).
As I mentioned above, Pauillac wine has excellent aging potential. To bring out its full flavors, make sure you give it a little time to age before consuming.
When its ready, I recommend that you enjoy your Pauillac wine with a meal. The French love to compliment their meals with a nice wine, so you'll find that most French wines taste best with just the right meal pairing.
These are heavy wines, so make sure you pair your Pauillac wine with a heavier meal. Some of the best pairing options including red meat such as steak; creamy or buttery meals; or lamb chops.
When you serve a high end red wine such as this, you also need to make sure you select the right glass. Use a Bordeaux red wine glass, which brings out the wine's full potential. Here is one of the best to use: Riedel Vinum Extreme Cabernet/Merlot Glasses.
You also want to serve Pauillac wine at just the right temperature which is between 61° and 64° F (16° to 18° C).
If you plan on visiting Bordeaux, this is one region that you must visit. It's not a large appellation, so you can easily visit other Medoc regions on the same day.
You can get here by either joining a guided tour or on your own. Here are a few details on each one of these options.
If you are staying in Bordeaux, the best guided tour from here to the Pauillac region is the Full Day, Small Group Medoc Wine Tour. The tour starts and ends at the city center of Bordeaux.
Your tour follows the castle road which is home to some of the most famous wineries in the Medoc. Shortly after you arrive in the region, you will stop at a classified growth chateau in either Margaux or St. Julien. Here you will tour and do a tasting of their premier wines.
From here, you'll continue down castle road to the small town of Pauillac. Here you get some free time to enjoy lunch (not included with the tour). One of my favorite restaurants in Pauillac is La Salamandre (@ 15 Quai Leon Perrier) - try the mussels, they are amazing! Also, don't drink too much at lunch as you still have quite a bit of tasting to do in the afternoon.
After your stop in the town of Pauillac, you will then head to another classified growth in either Pauillac or St. Estephe. As with the first stop, you will again get the chance to tour the chateau and sample some of their wines.
Your final stop is at La Winery where you will sample five additional Medoc wines. During this tasting session, you will also learn more about some of the other Bordeaux regions such as Pomerol, Sauternes and Graves.
Are you interesting in booking? Find pricing and buy your tickets in advance on Viator.
If you have a little more time, then this is the perfect area to venture out on your own. There is really only one main road in the Medoc region - and this is where you will find all of the best known chateaux.
You have two options for getting around this region. You can drive, bike or do a little of both. If you drive to the region, you can easily rent a bike from one of several local companies when you arrive.
TIP: Some bike rental shops offer electric assisted bikes. This makes it a little easier to get around all day. Although you still have to pedal, the additional power boost will allow you to go farther with less effort.
Most chateaux in Bordeaux require that you make an appointment before you visit. Some require a week or more notice before your visit, so you will need to do a little planning before you arrive.
Here are just a few of the Pauillac wineries that offer tours and tasting with an appointment:
You can also make an appointment to taste a variety of Pauillac wines at the Cave Cooperative. They represent 40 small, boutique wineries in the region.
If you also decide to stay the night, Pauillac is the perfect option. Here are a few of the top rated hotel options in the region:
21 rue Jean Mermoz
Route des Chateaux
26, Grande Rue Saint-Lambert | Village St. Lambert
Read recent guest reviews for these and other lodging options on TripAdvisor.
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