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Wine By Region Right Europe Right France Right Bordeaux Right Left Bank Right Médoc Right  Haut-Médoc

Chasse Spleen

A very well-done shot of Château Chasse-Spleen, one of the leading Haut-Médoc estates. Photo by Benjamin Zingg. License: Creative Commons SA 2.5 Generic.

The Haut-Médoc, basically the area in the Médoc that does not fall into one of the Fab Four wine villages (Pauillac, Margaux, St-Julien and St-Estèphe), is another mainstay of Bordeaux wine. In general, this is more of an area for values than absolute quality and luxury. Some of the wine is expensive, but more can be found for less than equally good wine from the four famed villages.

The Haut-Médoc AOC also contains AOCs Moulis-en-Médoc and Listrac-Médoc. Neither have any classified wines, but some of their estates have risen to levels of price and pedigree that makes them worthy of 4er cru or higher. Haut-Médoc AOC itself only has a few classified châteaux.

Chateau Cantemerle label

A bottle of Château Cantemerle.
This photo is in the public domain.


The Haut-Médoc, just as described in the Médoc page itself, was drained in the 1700s by Dutch settlers to France. In the beginning, there was a great quality differential between the best Haut-Médoc wines and the worst. Over the next two hundred years, the government instituted a system of classification that would greatly assist wine consumers. Although the 1855 classification was a bit unfair due to the fact that it ranked wines solely based on price, several of the Haut-Médoc's wines received places on the list.

Quality was generally (although not exclusively) found to be higher in the particularly optimal regions of St-Estèphe, Margaux, Pauillac, and St-Julien. So, these areas were split off and made their own AOCs in 1936. Haut-Médoc was also given status in that year. Two years later, Moulis-en-Médoc (nowadays simply called Moulis) was broken off into its own AOC. Listrac (officially Listrac-Médoc) was given its status in 1957.

Climate and Viticulture

Just like the rest of the Médoc, gravel is common in the Haut-Médoc and as a result the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is prominent. However, large reserves of clay and other soil types are also interspersed through the region, making Cabernet less consistent than in the four village communes. As a result, Haut-Médoc wines have the potential to show some different flavors.

The climate of the Haut-Médoc is oceanic, but it generally varies slightly from place to place. Obviously, the Haut-Médoc is large enough to span most of the Médoc, so there can be noticeable differences between the northern and southern parts of the appellation.

Grape Varieties

Standards are not so high, and winemaking procedures not so traditional in Haut-Médoc, as in the four major villages. So blends are not nearly so uniform as in the particular village, where producers that do not conform are considered "renegades." Except for Malbec and Carménère, all the Bordeaux red grapes are planted in varying proportions here.

Major Producers

There are no first growths or second growths from Haut-Médoc. There is only one third growth, which is generally considered the best Haut-Médoc.

La Lagune 1961

A La Lagune from the famed
1961 vintage. Photo by BerndB
on Wikipedia. License: Creative
Commons SA 3.0 Unported

There is also only one 4er cru from Haut-Médoc.

There are three fifth growths.

A small selection of former crus bourgeois and other estates that are nonclassified are worth description.

Phelan Segur

Poujeaux is arguably the best estate in Moulis.
Photo by Tomas Eriksson.
License: Creative Commons SA 3.0 Unported.


Haut-Médoc has numerous subregions. The commonly cited ones of Pauillac, Margaux, St-Julien and St-Estèphe are the most famous, and have a separate AOC status. Two other village AOCs that are not nearly as popular, but definitely deserving of coverage, are listed below.

Chasse Spleen vineyards

Vineyards in the Haut-Médoc. This photo is in the public domain.