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Chateau Tour St. Bonnet 2000
One of the most—if not the most—famous red wine regions of the world, the Medoc reaches from the city of Bordeaux northwest along the left bank of the Gironde River almost all the way to the Atlantic. Its vineyards climb along a band of flatlands, sandwiched between the coastal river marshes and the pine forests in the west. The entire region can only claim to be three to eight miles wide (at its widest), but it is about 50 miles long.
While the Medoc encompasses the Haut Medoc, and thus most of the classed-growth villages (Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, St-Julien, Pauillac and St. Estephe) it is really only those wines produced in the Bas-Medoc that use the Medoc appellation name. The ones farther down the river, and on marginally higher ground, are eligible to claim the Haut Medoc appellation, or their village or cru status.
While the region can’t boast a particularly dramatic landscape, impressive chateaux disperse themselves among the magically well-drained gravel soils that define the area. This optimal soil draining capacity is completely necessary and ideal in the Medoc's damp, maritime climate. These gravels also serve well to store heat in cooler years.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.