Situated in the Bordeaux region between Saint-Estèphe and Saint Julien, the small port city has given its name to an appellation that lies at the center of the Médoc vineyards and is thus the capital of the Médoc.
Pauillac is the only communal appellation to boast three premier crus classés: Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Latour. With its 18 crus classés, Pauillac has a reputation to match its terroir. Severe in their youth, these wines deserve to be waited for to be fully appreciated. After several years of cellaring, sometimes several dozen, they develop an extremely rich and complex bouquet, their tannins become rounder and the wines take on a fine, delicate character, while retaining great finesse.
>> See our article: "The Pauillac appellation and its great Châteaux".
The Pauillac appellation is home to 18 of the 61 Grand Crus Classés in the 1855 classification.
Pauillac has become one of Bordeaux's most famous appellations, known for producing powerful, tannic red wines from noble grape varieties.
The Pauillac appellation is located in the Médoc, a world-renowned wine-growing region on the left bank of the Gironde, in the Gironde department of France. The town of Pauillac lies some 50 kilometers northwest of Bordeaux, the regional capital.
The history of Pauillac dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Cistercian monks of Vertheuil Abbey began cultivating vines in the area. However, it was not until the 17th century that Pauillac's vineyards began to flourish, thanks to wealthy and influential landowners who invested in wine production.
The Pauillac appellation covers 1,200 hectares between Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien. Although small (23 km²), it features a wide variety of terroirs, with slopes of up to 30 meters along the banks of the Gironde, giving Pauillac wines their unique character.
The terroir of the Pauillac appellation is marked by a wide variety of soils, ranging from gravel and pebbles on the surface to clay and limestone at depth. This diversity of soils, combined with an undulating topography, creates microclimates that influence the ripeness and quality of the grapes.
Pauillac's climate is oceanic, benefiting from the maritime influence of the Gironde estuary. Summers are hot and sunny, winters mild and wet, and harvests are often later than in other Bordeaux wine regions due to the slower ripening of the grapes. Overall, the terroir of Pauillac is considered one of the most favorable for the production of great Bordeaux red wines, thanks to its diversity of soils and moderate climate. Pauillac wines are renowned for their richness, concentration and tannic structure, as well as for their ability to age well in the cellar.
Over the years and hundreds of vintages, the Châteaux of Pauillac have acquired a wealth of experience in bringing out the best in their unique terroir. Although each château has its own distinct style, Pauillac wines share certain characteristics. They are generally described as rich, powerful and structured, with aromas of blackcurrant and cedar wood from the oak aging of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Pauillac wines are considered to have the strongest tannic structure of the Médoc wines, which often enables them to age well in the cellar for many years.
In general, Pauillac blends contain around 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, but some crus classés may contain two-thirds or more of this variety. Other grape varieties permitted in the Pauillac appellation include Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec. In some cases, Merlot may be the dominant grape variety in the blend.
Pauillac wines have earned international renown thanks to their outstanding quality and success on the fine wine markets. And it's no coincidence that the appellation includes several Grands Crus Classés de Bordeaux:
Three 1er Grands Crus Classés :
Two 2nd Grands Crus Classés :
The best vintages of the Pauillac appellation are: 1928, 1929, 1943, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1975, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2005, 2009.
Pauillac wines are often paired with red meat dishes, especially beef and lamb, due to their rich tannic structure and power. Grilled, roasted or braised meats, as well as rich sauces, such as mushroom and truffle dishes, go very well with Pauillac wines.
Aged, hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan and comté are also good choices to accompany Pauillac wines. Younger wines can be paired with simpler, less fatty dishes, such as pasta with tomato sauce, pizza and hamburgers. Rich, chocolaty desserts can also go well with some Pauillac wines, especially those that have been aged longer and have developed cocoa and coffee aromas.