Considering the grapes variety, the A.O.C. (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée - label of origin that guarantees a quality) determines which type of grapes you can use if you want this label. ; l'A.O.C. Médoc bans the use of a single type of grape ; the wine from Médoc has to come from at least two types of grapes, and no more than six: Cabernet-Franc, le Cabernet-Sauvignon, Camenère for the Cabernets family, Merlot and Malbec for the Merlots family, and Petit Verdot.
We know that the wine is a balance between three elements: alcohol, acids and tannins. It is rare that a type of grape owns those three characteristics, but each grape variety brings at least one of them, and often two. That is why the vine grower, depending on his soils and objectives will plant two, three of more types of vines.
We can briefly class three families from what they bring:
We can note that they all have in common the tannins, which is normal for the Medoc wines, known as ageing wines, as the tannins are allowing the wines to age well.
The old times, when my grand parents were still there. I don't know the beginning, but I remember the end: 1965 - 1966. I was, back then, five years old. My grandpa was watering the vats for the harvest, and was bringing me in the vineyards to see how the grapes were maturing. We were going from the Malbec to the Cabernet-Franc, from the Carmenère to the Petit Verdot ; all the parcels who were planted after the first world war, a time when the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon did not have their worth and reputation.
The childhood times, my parents period, from 1974 to 1989. Those times saw the complete reconstruction from the vineyard, Malbec being taken over by Merlot, Carmenère by Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cabernet Franc staying there, but the Petit Verdot disappeared.
The latest times, from 1990 to 2014, Florence and myself have doubled the existing Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to stay on the same type of product and observe. We quickly realized that the wine was lacking acidity, due to the gravel/sandy soil, which, contrary to the clay/limestone, does not produce much of it.
This observation led us to the decision to test Petit Verdot, naturally rich in acidity when it reaches a good maturity.
The result was beyond our expectations, as the Petit Verdot was pairing greatly with the Merlot, and was producing great vats year after year.
On the other hand, the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon were not giving results as good as expected, which led us to try the third type of Cabernet on our disposition: the Carménère.
This time too, it passed the test, and allowed us to bring what we were looking for our wine.
As the reintroduction of two grape varieties from my grand-father time has been a great success, we decided to plant some Malbec too, and the first crop foreshadows a great future for our wine.
So today, we have the chance to own, observe, compare, taste and produce the six grape varieties from the AOC Medoc, blended in one wine: The Chateau Saint Aubin.
The Merlot brings us the alcohol, the bold, sweetness and finesse; the Malbec brings a lot of red fruit freshness; the Cabernet Franc some peppery hints and some delicate tannin; the Carménère a southern style spice and richness; the Cabernet Sauvignon brings a powerful tannin structure, refined and elegant; and the Petit Verdot a fresh acidity, black fruit tannin, and incomparable complexity.
We have noticed that a single grape always been on the estate for three generations: The Cabernet Franc.
It has nothing to do with chance, as we are going to see.
During a long time, we thought that our types of grapes were introduced by the Romans, but it was a mistake; their Southern grapes did not fit the oceanic climate from our Atlantic coast and died off.
However, they found on site the Cabernet Franc, perfectly adapted , and planted it extensively.
Originally from Navarre (Irrouléguy), it colonized the whole Atlantic coast and went up the Loire (it is the emblematic grape variety from the AOC Chinon).
It is the Aquitain's ultimate grape variety , and we find him in four of the six Medoc's grapes.
As a matter of fact, the vine, as seed-propagated specie, evolved genetically and accumulated an important number of mutations by side by side fecundation
Crossbreeds occurred. and a great number of varieties appeared.
It is the case for our six vines, who, presenting some interesting visible or agronomic traits, kept the attention of the vine growers, and became some prestigious vines.