Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc make up the red grape "trio" of Bordeaux. Petit Verdot and Malbec grape varieties are also used in lesser proportions. As soon as the grapes are harvested, the juice ferments with the grape skins; this gives the wine its color and tannins. After several weeks in vats (or barrels), wines made from different grape varieties are blended. The wine is then aged in vats or oak barrels for months or even years.
Bordeaux red wines should ideally be served at 61°-65°F. Given their good balance of alcohol, tannin and acidity, these wines are perfect to enjoy with all kinds of food: Medoc and Graves pair well with red meats and roasts; Saint-Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac wines pair well with white meats, poultry, game and even fish; Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieur and Cotes de Bordeaux wines are ideal matches for grilled meats, pasta and even more exotic "fusion" dishes.
The commune consists of only 3000 acres of vineyards in the Haut-Medoc between the villages of Saint-Julien to the south and Saint-Estephe to the north, but is home to three of Bordeaux's five first growth wines: Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Latour, and Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
A classic Pauillac wine is rich, dense-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. This is shown within the 3 First growths where the Lafite is complex and elegant, the Mouton-Rothschild is voluptuous with power and the Latour is full yet refined. There are many other styles amongst Pauillac's Chateaux, ranging from elegant wines which are drinkable younger, such as Pichon Lalande to the more tannic, deep style of Lynch-Bages.
This commune, on the banks of the Gironde, has small hills which are unusual in the Medoc. The soil contains heavy gravel which is important to the wine growing as it reflects the sun and allows excellent drainage. It is differences in the subsoil that contribute towards each Chateau's style. Lafite has a limestone base which leads to a softer, aromatic flavour; Mouton-Rothschild has sand within its gravelly soil which produces its richness, and Latour enjoys a bed of predominantly gravel enabling it to be consistent even in wet years.
This region of Haut Medoc sets the standard for each Bordeaux vintage and is a wonderful and impressive representative. A great deal of pleasure awaits anyone exploring this wonderful appellation.