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CLARET, BORDEAUX, MÉDOC, ETC.
The Médoc and Neighbourhood–The fine Growths — Vins de
Graves - Haut-Brion Rothschild — Vins de Côtes — Blaye English Wine-Merchants — Fermentation - Fining — Dinner at Château Lagrange-Château Margaux, 1834–Hôtel de Margaux -Price of Lafitte, 1858 and 1860 – Profits of the old English Houses - Dutch, German, and Belgians--White Growths— Differently made - Produce of Bordeaux and NeighbourhoodBrokers' Quotations, 1858 to 1862—Was the Médoc a barren Waste 150 years ago ?—Letter from Professor Michel-Wines used in Scotland-Mr. Ballantyne, curious Information-Result of Testing of different Years—Consumption and Per-centages from 1831 to 1863.
HE red wines from Bordeaux, which pass under
the name of claret in England, come from several districts in the neighbourhood of that city. Those from the Médoc are of the highest quality. After them come the growths of St. Emilion, in the arondissement of Libourne; those about Bordeaux itself, called the Graves ; and, lastly, the wines of the Côtes of Blaye, of Quinsac, of Camblannes, and of the Palus, ranked as first, second, third, fourth, and fifth ; the last two being called . bourgeois supérieur’and “ petit bourgeois.'
In the Médoc are the celebrated vineyardsChâteau Lafitte, Château Margaux, Château Latour, Mouton, Larose, Léoville, Pichon-Longueville, &c.
THE CHÂTEAUX IN THE MÉDOC.
These are distinguished by much delicacy of taste and a bouquet varying according to the locality.
The parishes in which are the most celebrated vineyards, are Margaux, Pauillac, St. Julien, St. Estèphe, Listrac, St. Laurent, St. Seurin de Cadourne, and several others.
Châteaux Lafitte, Margaux, and Latour are decidedly superior to those that rank as second growths. This is attributable, not only to their excellent positions, but almost equally to the great care bestowed to uphold their reputation, which has long enabled the proprietors to get prices much higher than their neighbours.
Demanding incessant care and attention in every way, one of the most anxious and difficult parts is to have a good combination of vines ; for, no more in the vegetable than in the animal world, can a successful result be derived from only one stock, however pure and perfect this at first may be. One vine gives delicacy, another body, another flavour, and the grapes from those and two or three more, with other characteristics, produce wine superior to any that could be got from any one kind.
But it is not always that these first growths are superior to the second, for occasionally the latter, and even third growths, prove better. The St. Emilions are fuller and stouter, and have a deeper colour, than the Médocs ; and, although less delicate and fine, have a very agreeable taste, and are generally much liked. The Vins de Graves are also favourites, though not equal to the Médocs. The parishes which produce the best wines of this class are Talence, Pessac, Mérignac, Léognan. The Vins de Côtes, Blaye, &c., though deficient in flavour, and not to be compared to many of the Médocs, are very pleasant when of a good year, and are much used in Bordeaux.
I remember, when dining a few years ago with a friend at an inn in the village of Margaux, within a stone's throw of the Château, we were much amused on finding the wine so very bad that we could drink it only with water.
When in Bordeaux, a few months back, I tasted Château Lafitte 1858, which could not be bought for
less than 1001., and the same growth of 1860, which could be had for 5l. per hogshead.
This proves what I have stated, and if winemerchants will go over themselves to select according to their judgement, and the opinion of respectable
Si, parjure à son nom, à sa vertu première,
à la lumière ;
brokers or merchants, they should mention no name at all, but describe clearly what is wanted, with the limit of price. It is certainly more satisfactory to go to the place, to taste and compare the contents of various cellars ; but, unless there be a knowledge of the language of the country, the tasting and comparison must be confined to the cellars of the few houses who are in the habit of dealing with England (and nowhere are there more highly respectable merchants). Yet they have long been accustomed to prices and profits very different from many equally respectable French houses, who possess as good wine, and have not been allowed by their native fellowdealers to get habituated to such gains.
I have just (July 1864) had an opportunity of carefully tasting the sample hogsheads of the vintage 1862, of one of the very first Bordeaux houses, sent by it to their agents here for their opinion, and that of the trade. I do not mention the prices, but may state that although the wine is only about eighteen months old, and unfit for bottling, the cost of the first growth to a wine merchant would be about 63s. per doz., which appears to me greatly more than the quality deserves. Each of the others is less by about 101.
Château Latour-Delicious bouquet-deficient in body.
Château Margaux—Fine, but light.
Château Lajitte—Flavour not quite equal to the Latour, but fine, full, delicate body. The most valuable of the three.
Léoville-Barton—Very excellent, but not equal to any of the first growths.
Lascombe-Very good, will turn out well. 3rd Growth—Common, earthy flavour. 4th Growth-Very cheap for the quality. Two