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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 723 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CLASSED GROWTHS OF THE MfDOC (CLARET) First Growths. Chateau Lafite, Pauillac. Margaux, Margaux. Latour, Pauillac. Second Growths. Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac. Rauzan-Segla, Margaux. Rauzan-Gassies, Margaux. L6oville-Lascases, St Julien. Leoville-Poyferre, St Julien. Leoville-Barton, St Julien. Durfort-Vivens, Margaux. Lascombes, Margaux. Gruaud-Larose-Sarget, St Julien. Gruaud Larose, St Julien. Brane-Cantenac, Cantenac. „ Pichon-Longueville, Pauillac. Pichon-Longueville-Lalande, Pauillac. Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien. Cos d'Estournel, St Estephe. Chateau Montrose, St Estephe. Third Growths. Chateau Kirwan, Cantenac. D'Issan, Cantenac. Lagrange, St Julien. Langoa, St Julien. Giscours, Labarde. Malescot, Margaux. Brown Cantenac, Cantenac. Palmer, Cantenac. La Lagune, Ludon. Desmirail, Margaux. Calon-Segur, St Estephe. Ferriere, Margaux. Becker, Margaux. Fourth Growths. Chateau Saint-Pierre, St Julien. ,, Branaire-Duluc, St Julien. „ Talbot, St Julien. Duhart-Milon, Pauillac. „ Poujet, Cantenac. „ La Tour Carnet, St Laurent. „ Rochet, St Estephe. Beychevelle, St Julien. Le Prieure, Cantenac. Marquis de Terme, Margaux. Fifth Growths. Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac. Batailley, Pauillac. Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac. Ducasse-Grand-Puy, Pauillac. Chateau Lynch-Sages, Pauillac. Lynch-Moussas, Pauillac. Dauzac, Labarde. Mouton-d'Armailhacq, Pauillac. Le Tertre, Arsac. Haut-Bages, Pauillac. Pedesclaux, Pauillac. Belgrave, St Laurent. Camensac, St Laurent. Cos-Labory, St Estephe. Chateau Clerc-Milon, Pauillac. Croizet-Bages, Pauillac. Cantemerle, Macau. The quality of the Medoc red wines (and this applies also to some of the finer growths of the other Bordeaux districts) is radically different from that of wines similar in type grown in other parts of the world. The Gironde red wines have sufficient body and alcohol to ensure stability without being heavy or fiery At the same time, their acidity is very low and their bouquet characteristically delicate and elegant. It is to this relatively large amount of body and absence of an excess of acid and of tannin that the peculiarly soft effect of the Bordeaux wines on the palate is due. It has been said that chemistry is of little avail in determining the value of a wine, and this is undoubtedly true as regards the bouquet and flavour, but there is no gainsaying the fact that many hundreds of analyses of the wines of the Gironde have shown that they are, as a class, distinctly different in the particulars referred to from wines of the claret type produced, for instance, in Spain, Australia or the Cape. The quality of the wines naturally varies considerably with the vintage; but it is almost invariably the case that the wines of successful vintages will contain practically the same relative proportions of their various constituents, although the absolute amounts present of these constituents may differ widely. It is the author's experience also that where a wine displays some abnormality as regards one or more constituents, that although it may be sound, it is rarely a wine of the highest class. The tables below will give a fair idea of the variations which occur in the same wine as a result of different vintages, and the variations due to differences of " growth " in the same vintage. These figures are selected from among a number published by the author in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing, April 1907.and at a maximum in 1907, when close on moo hogsheads were obtained. Similarly, the Chateau Margaux, which yielded 1120 hogsheads in 1900, produced 28o hogsheads in 1903. The prices of the wines also are subject to great fluctuation, but in fair years will vary, according to class and quality, from J, to to £3o per hogshead for the better growths. The principal claret vintages of modern times have been those of 1858, 1864. 1869, 1870, 1874, 1875, 1877, 1878, 1888, 1893, 1896, 1899 and 1900, while it was thought probable that many of the wines of 1904 to 1907 inclusive would turn out well. From 1882 to 1886 inclusive, the vintages were almost total failures owing to mildew. In 1887 to 1895 a number of fair wines were produced in each year, and the first really good vintage of the post-mildew-phylloxera period was that of 1888. Most of the wines grown on a purely gravelly soil are termed " Graves," but there is a specific district of Graves which lies south of Bordeaux and west of the river, and extends as far as Graves. Langon. The soil is almost a pure sandy gravel with a subsoil of varied nature, but principally alios, gravel, clay or sand. This district produces both red and white wines. The vines, the methods of viticulture and vinification as regards the red wines of the Graves district, are similar to those of the Medoc. The wines are, if anything, slightly fuller in body and more alcoholic than those of the latter region. They possess a characteristic flavour which differentiates them somewhat sharply from the Medoc wines. The Graves contains one vineyard, namely Chateau Haut-Brion, which ranks in quality together with the three first growths of the Medoc. The remainder of the red Graves are not classified, but among the more important wines may be mentioned the following: in the commune of Pessac, Chateau La Mission and Chateau Pape-Clement; in the commune of Villenave D'Ornon, Chateau La Ferrade; in Leognan, Chateau Haut-Bailly, Chateau Haut-Brion-Larrivet and Chateau Branon-Licterie; in Martillac, Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafite. The district of Sauternes produces the finest white wines of the Gironde, one might say of the whole of France. Whereas the white wines of the Graves are on the whole fairly dry and Sauternes. light in character, the white wines of Sauternes are full and sweet, with a very fine characteristic bouquet. The district of Sauternes covers the communes of Sauternes, Bommes and a part of Barsac, Preignac, Fargues and St Pierre-de-Mons. The general configuration of the country is markedly different from that of the Medoc, consisting of a series of low hills rising easily from the river. The soil consists chiefly of mixed clay and gravel, or clay and lime-stone, and the vines chiefly used are the Sauvignon, the Semillon and the Muscatelle. The wines are made entirely from white grapes, and the methods of collecting the latter, and of working them up Analyses of Chateau Lafite of Different Vintages.' Alcohol Extract Total Vintage. Description. Per Cent. Total (Solid Ash. Tartaric Glycerin. Sugar. by Vol. A cidity. Matter). Acid. 1865 Chateau Lafite 11.26 4.17 26.83 2.18 2.28 7.99 1.10 1875 ', 10.31 3.67 .. .. .. 7.25 1892 „ 11.00 4.38 25.92 2.42 2.11 4.60 1.25 1896 „ 11.05 3'51 26.08 2.68 1.71 8.64 1.69 1899 11.47 3'49 27.91 3.01 1.78 7.11 1.74 1905 „ 10.75 3.02 25.34 2.42 2.42 7.52 2.12 Analyses of Different Clarets of the Same Vintage.' Alcohol Extract Total Vintage. Description. Per Cent. Total (Solid Ash. Tartaric Glycerin. Sugar. by Vol. Acidity. Matter). Acid. 1900 Ch. Margaux 12.14 3.06 26.32 2.58 I.50 8.76 1.93 Ch. Mouton-Rothschild 11.82 2.97 28.98 2.69 1.23 7'53 2.56 Ch. Larose I2•o6 3.23 29.01 2'29 1.50 8•o2 3'97 Ch. Batailley 12.14 3'15 26'54 2'39 1'48 8'45 2.27 Ch. Palmer (Margaux) 11.73 3'19 28.64 2.72 1.52 8.23 2.27 Ch. Smith-Haut-Lafite 13.76 3.10 27.48 2.10 1.56 7.48 2.32 Second growth 10.91 3.32 29'44 2.84 1'75 6'99 I.72 Bourgeois growth 12.71 3'32 29'57 2.16 1.56 9.01 2.49 Peasant growth 11.47 3.58 20.97 1.71 2.50 7.18 1.20 'Results (excepting alcohol) are expressed in grams per litre, i.e. roughly parts per thousand. The annual output of the Gironde during the last few years has been roughly 70 to loo million gallons. In the decade 1876 to 1886 the average amount was barely 30 million gallons owing to the small yields of the years 1881 to 1885. In the years 1874 and 1875 the yield exceeded Too million. gallons. The output of the classed growths varies considerably according to the vintage, but is on the average, owing to the great care exercised in the vineyards, greater than that of the lower-grade areas. Thus within recent years the output of the Chateau Lafite was at a minimum in 1903 when only 229 hogsheads (the hogshead of claret =46 gallons) were produced, into wine, are entirely different from those prevalent in the red wine districts. The grapes are allowed to remain on the vines some three to four weeks longer than is the case in the Medoc, and the result is that they shrivel up and become over-ripe, and so contain relatively little water and a very large quantity of sugar. This alone, however, does not account for the peculiar character of the Sauternes, for during the latter period of ripening a specific micro-organism termed Botrytis cinerea develops on the grape, causing a peculiar condition termed pourriture noble (German Edelfaule), which appears to be responsible for the remarkable bouquet observed in the wines. When the grapes have attained the proper degree of ripeness, or rather over-ripeness, they are gathered with the greatest care, the berries being frequently cut off from the branches singly, and sorted according to their appearance. The grapes are then not crushed, but are immediately pressed, and the juice alone is subjected to fermentation. As a rule, three wines are made in the principal vineyards in three successive periods. The first wine, which is termed the vin de bite, is generally the sweetest and finest, the next (called the milieu) being somewhat drier and the last (vin de queue) being the least valuable. For some markets these wines are shipped separately, for others they are blended according to the prevalent taste. The musts from which the Sauternes wines are made are so concentrated that only a part of the sugar is transformed into alcohol, an appreciable portion remaining unfermented. These wines, therefore, require very careful handling in order to prevent undesirable secondary fermentations taking place at a later period. They are subjected to frequent racking, the casks into which they are racked being more highly sulphured than is the case with red wines. This is necessary, not only to prevent fermentation recommencing, but also in order to preserve the light golden colour of the wine, which, if brought into contact with an excess of air, rapidly assumes an unsightly brown shade. The Sauternes generally are full-bodied wines, very luscious and yet delicate ; they possess a special seve, or, in other words, that special taste which, while it remains in the mouth, leaves the palate perfectly fresh. The finer growths of the Sauternes are classified in much the same way as the red wines of the Medoc. There are two main growths, the wines being as follows:

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