Médoc葡萄酒的多樣性 The diversity of Médoc Wines
Médoc是波爾多葡萄酒的精華所在，它常常予人威嚴和權力的印象，但Médoc就只有這樣的葡萄酒嗎? Médoc位於Gironde河口的左邊，就是大家常常聽到的波爾多左岸，河水有助調節當地氣候，延長葡萄的生長週期。而不同類型的土壤和葡萄品種也影響著葡萄酒的最終風味。這次我們以水陸兩路去檢視一下水、土壤和葡萄的多樣性來看看這些appellation d’originecontrôlée法定產區（AOC）之間的差異。
Médoc is the essence of Bordeaux wines. It has been portrayed with the image of majesty and power but is this true for the whole of Médoc? Médoc is located on the left of the Gironde estuary hence the name Left Bank Bordeaux, where the water helps to modulate the climate, extending the growing season. The grape varieties grown and the different types of soils here also make an impact on the final wine. We went on a road and boat trip to check out the water, the soils and the grapes to see what are the differences within these specific appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) which translates as controlled designation of origin in English.
Médoc一帶包含8個法定產區，當中包括2個區域法定產區（Médoc和Haut-Médoc）和6個村莊法定產區（Saint-Estèphe，Pauillac，Saint-Julien，Moulis，Listrac，Margaux）。從海岸北端開始的是Médoc AOC，是面積最大的AOC， 5742公頃的葡萄樹佔了Médoc葡萄園的35％。品種包括Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère。這大面積的土地由許多不同的土壤組成，這種多樣性造就了不同風格的葡萄酒。有人可能會認為Médoc AOC的面積太大，但對於葡萄酒買家來說，卻是搜羅價廉珍品的好地方。對於飲家來說，Médoc AOC實惠得來又可以帶來新鮮感，實在令人興奮。如果你喜歡口感強烈的，可選擇Cabernet Sauvignon比例較多的，如果喜歡果味突出的，Merlot成份較重的可能較合心意。 我們參觀了幾個莊園，2012年的Château La Cardonne有豐富的黑加侖子和李子果味，以及優質的單寧結構。而2014年的Château Tour Castillon則展示了成熟的黑水果味與細緻的橡木桶香氣。我們更從Château Tour Castillon遊船河，沿著Gironde河口，看著河流越來越窄，南下到Margaux產區。
There are 8 Médoc appellations, which include the 2 sub-regional appellations (Médoc and Haut-Médoc) and the 6 communal appellations (Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Moulis, Listrac, Margaux). Beginning from the north of the peninsula is the Médoc AOC, it is the largest AOC with 5742 hectares of vines which account for 35% of Médoc’s vineyards. The allowed varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère. The large areas compose of many different soils and this diversity allows for many contrasting expressions. On one hand, some might feel that the Médoc AOC is too large but the possibility to find treasures at great prices is exciting for wine buyers. For wine drinkers, Médoc AOC presents good value and the chance of discovery. If you like something strong, you can choose a wine with a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, if one prefers softer fruit, then a higher proportion of Merlot should do the trick. We visited a few estates and the 2012 Château La Cardonne exhibited juicy flavours like blackcurrant and plum and a fine tannin structure while Château Tour Castillon 2014 showcased ripe black fruits with oak nuances. We also went on a boat trip from Château Tour Castillon along the estuary of the Gironde where we witnessed the narrowing of the river as we travelled south towards Margaux.
Haut-Médoc是第二大的AOC，佔Médoc 28.4％的葡萄園。這個AOC從海岸的中部到南部交錯發展，由礫石土、石灰岩、粘土和沙形成。雖然該地區具有不同的土質，但Haut-Médoc葡萄酒在性質上都甚為平衡而不太強烈，它就像Médoc裡最宏大的葡萄酒的縮影。我們參觀了一個中產酒莊級Cru Bourgeois的莊園，Château d’Agassac，在他們的餐廳La table d’Agassac享用了一頓可口午餐，更品嚐了它的2014年葡萄酒，結構細緻，有豐富的櫻桃、李子和黑加侖子果味，是一瓶經典的Haut-Médoc葡萄酒。Haut-Médoc AOC還擁有五個著名的列級酒莊以及一些小型的Cru Artisans酒莊。
The second largest AOC is Haut-Médoc with 28.5% of Médoc’s vineyards. This AOC criss-cross from the middle to the south of the peninsula, with gravel soils in combination with limestone, clay and sand. Although the region is not homogeneous as a whole, Haut-Médoc wines are generally balance in nature and not overpowering, it is like looking through a window into what the best of Médoc could offer. We visited Château d’Agassac, a Cru Bourgeois estate. We enjoyed a lovely lunch at their restaurant La table d’Agassac and tasted the 2014 which is well structured with cherry, plum and blackcurrant notes, a classic Haut-Médoc wine. Haut-Médoc AOC also boasts five famous Grand Cru Classés (classified growths) as well as small Cru Artisans estates.
其餘6個較小的村莊法定產區中，Saint-Estèphe位於最北部。傳統上，它的葡萄酒風格強勁，陳年不夠的話會有點繃緊。但有些酒莊成功提升葡萄整體的成熟度以及增加了Merlot的混合比例來創造更柔和的風格。我們參觀了兩個截然不同的酒莊。著名的二級酒莊Château Montrose是一個管理完善的酒莊，其2012年列級酒的結構非常緊密，有黑櫻桃、黑加侖子和辛辣香料的味道，非常適合長期窖藏。另一方面，Château Petit Bocq是一個20公頃的小家族莊園，他們只製作一款葡萄酒，莊園會將所有酒桶的葡萄酒混合為最終成品。其2012年份的成品非常純美、柔和與清新，滿載花香和成熟水果的味道。Saint-Estèphe這裡的葡萄酒都是充滿個性的，應視乎你喜歡的風格來選擇。
Within the 6 smaller communal appellations, Saint-Estèphe is the northern most of all. Traditionally, it is powerful in nature and some might find it a bit austere when young. However, some estates have worked on the grape maturity as well as blending with more Merlot to create a more supple style. We visited two contrasting estates in the region and the prestigious Second Growth Château Montrose is extremely well managed and their 2012 is tightly structured with black cherry, blackcurrant and pungent spices, a wine for long term cellaring. On the other hand, Château Petit Bocq was a small 20 hectares family estate, where they only make one wine and blend all their barrels into the final product. Their 2012 is floral and pure, with juicy ripe fruit that is supple while fresh at the same time. This AOC could offer truly unique wines so go choose the styles that you enjoy drinking.
Pauillac AOC可以說是全Médoc最有名的產區，其高數量的列級酒莊證明了這一點，而三個一級酒莊（Château Lafite-Rothschild，Château Latour和Château Mouton Rothschild）都坐立於這裡。Pauillac的葡萄酒予人結構強大和充滿陳年能力的印象。這AOC非常接近河流，礫石土壤有助把Cabernet Sauvignon的成熟度推到最高。Château Lynch Bages是Pauillac中的表表者，它的2011年葡萄酒表現出宏大的單寧結構，需要陳年才可浸淫出複雜性和柔順的口感。
Pauillac AOC is arguably the most famous AOC of the Médoc as three First Growths (Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Mouton Rothschild) reside here. The wine of Pauillac is of power and longevity and the high proportion of classified growth is a testament to this. This AOC is very close to the river and the gravelly soils help to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon for maximum expression. Château Lynch Bages is a classic example of Pauillac and their 2011 presented a large tannin framework which would require ageing for it to develop complexity and smooth texture.
Saint-Julien AOC面積相對小一些而且比較均勻，能每年如一地培育出品質良好的葡萄酒。如果只能選擇一瓶葡萄酒來體驗Médoc的魅力，Saint-Julien會是最佳的選擇。我們非常榮幸能留宿於美麗的Château Beychevelle。這四級酒莊坐擁13間精緻房間，我建議你親身入住來體驗它的富麗堂皇。Château Beychevelle 的列級酒和副牌酒都擁有極佳的適飲度。列級酒的深度和豐厚的口感會獎勵那些耐心等待的人，而提早享用這美酒亦不會被葡萄酒懲罰。
Saint-Julien AOC is smaller and more homogeneous, providing wines of great consistency and quality. If one has to choose only one wine to experience what Médoc has to offer, Saint-Julien would be the perfect choice. We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to stay at the beautiful Château Beychevelle. This Fourth Growth offers 13 exquisite rooms and I would highly recommend you to book ahead if you want to experience the grandeur of this Château. Château Beychevelle’s Grand Vin and Second wine both presented great drinkability with the Grand Vin showcasing more depth and plush texture which rewards those with patience while not penalizing those who like to enjoy their wine early.
Listrac AOC及 Moulis AOC是Médoc中最小的產區。它們的位置遠離河流，濕度較低，因此葡萄 腐爛的風險相對也較低，但同時較低的溫度會影響葡萄的成熟度。Château Fonreaud位於Listrac AOC，是Médoc中最高海拔的葡萄園，石灰岩高原達到43米高，這個獨特的地理位置所出產的葡萄酒適合長期陳年。Moulis AOC通常被認為口感較為細緻，可早一點品嚐，而Listrac AOC則較結實，需要陳年較久才能將潛力釋放。 然而，隨著葡萄種植和葡萄酒釀造技術不斷提昇，這兩個AOC的葡萄酒有機會更加平易近人。 Moulis AOC 的Château Chemin Royal在混合比例上用上了更多的Merlot，使葡萄酒更為柔和、有新鮮的水果香，而他們的家族酒莊Château Fonreaud在Listrac AOC所出產的葡萄酒就追隨了結實的風格。Château Fonreaud還出產一款名為Les Cygne的木桶釀造波爾多白酒，它十分芳香，而同時又保留了清爽的口感。 Château Saransot Dupré也釀製了優質白酒，但我對他的Listrac紅酒印象較為深刻，它的葡萄酒選用了較高比例的Cabernet Franc和Petit Verdot，來適應石灰岩和粘土的土質，釀造出豐富、成熟和辛辣的葡萄酒，結構扎實但一點也不霸道。
Listrac AOC and Moulis AOC are the smallest AOC in The Médoc. They are further away from the river which brings unique microclimates for these two AOCs. There is less humidity and thus less rot risk but at the same time less warmth for growth. The highest elevation in the Medoc is located in the vineyard of Château Fonreaud in Listrac AOC where the limestone plateau reaches an elevation of 43 metres and this unique location produces wines with long term ageing potential. Moulis AOC are generally considered more fine in texture while Listrac AOC can be firmer and could require more ageing to open up. However, with advances in grape growing and winemaking techniques, wines from these 2 AOCs could become more approachable. Château Chemin Royal of Moulis AOC employs more Merlot in their blend to produce a softer wine with more fresh fruit while their family Château Fonreaud in Listrac AOC make firmer more vigorous wines for the long term. Château Fonreaud also produce a barrel fermented Bordeaux white wine called Les Cygne which is fragrant and aromatic while retaining great freshness on the palate. Château Saransot Dupré in Listrac also make a fine white wine but I am most impressed with their red wine which utilize a higher percentage of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot to suit their limestone and clay soil and produce a rich, ripe and spicy wine that is well structured but not overpowering.
Margaux AOC位於Médoc的南端，它的葡萄園面積比其他村莊法定產區大。Margaux通常被形容為優雅與芳香的葡萄酒，但它也可能潛藏了剛強的一面。我個人認為Margaux的風格並不統一，而是百變多姿。莊園的地理位置與葡萄混合的百分比均影響著最終成品的風格。Château Siran是Margaux最古老的家族，我推薦你預約參觀來體驗其歷史。2014年的Château Siran正正展現出Margaux香水般的芬芳與異國風情的氣色，而葡萄酒的陳年性亦從品嚐過1983年的葡萄酒得以確定，它帶有枯葉、醬油、普洱茶的味道和清新柔順的餘韻！Château Boyd Cantenac酒莊的老闆把葡萄酒比喻為一套電影而不是一張照片。他的2013年葡萄酒充滿了咖啡和李子的味道，葡萄酒在口中帶有強烈的感覺，成功展現出Margaux的另一張面孔。Château Margaux是我們旅程的最終站，這一級酒莊完美地結合了優雅和深度，2004年的葡萄酒展現出複雜的香料和泥土的氣色，而口感仍然年輕和集中，需要較長的時間來進化。
Margaux AOC is at the southern part of The Médoc and it has more vineyards planted than the other communal AOC. Margaux is typically regarded as perfume and elegant but it can also display underlying power. I would personally argue that there is no one fix style of Margaux but many faces of it. The location of the estate in combination with the grape varieties used influence the final wine tremendously. Château Siran is the oldest family in Margaux and I would recommend you to book a visit to experience the long history. Château Siran fits into the perfume style of Margaux with exotic perfume as displayed by their 2014 and the wines ageability is confirmed through tasting a 1983 which showcased wet leaves, soy sauce, Pu-erh black tea and a fresh smooth finish! The owner of Château Boyd Cantenac sees wine as a movie instead of a still picture. His 2013 is filled with notes of coffee and plum and the wine has a strong presence in the mouth which represent another face of Margaux. Our journey ends at Château Margaux, the Premier Cru Classé which combines the elegance and depth so perfectly in which their 2004 is showing complex spices and earthy tones on the nose while the palate is still young and concentrated which requires time to evolve.
The Médoc is indeed the essence of Bordeaux wines and there are regions be it large or small for everybody to explore. Go find the style that you enjoy and pair them with fine food and great company. Huge cheers to the diversity of Médoc wines!