In the Northern part of the Bordeaux area, you can enjoy the Castle Route, from Bordeaux up and along the Médoc region. There, you can find 8 of the most important appellations, along with vast manmade forests (built to protect the vines) and magnificent chateaux.
The Médoc countryside offers beautiful landscapes, valleys and wetlands, along with sandy beaches which run along the Atlantic coast. In the Médoc area you can find 8 AOC wines (controlled designation of origin) and the best chateaux of the Bordeaux region. The main grape varieties are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (along with Malbec and Petit Verdot) and you can find both independent wineries and winemaking cooperatives. Due to the proximity of the Atlantic ocean, the area might be unsuitable of wine making; however, the variation and the particular soil better suit for varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the heart of the region you can find the famous 86-km long D2 wine route (also called ‘the Castle Route’), which passes by all the main chateaux and wine names, such as Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Juline and Moulis.
Most of the chateaux welcome visitors, but it is always better to book in advance! You can also visit some artistic exhibitions, like the one in the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac (the famous chateau with the world’s most expensive wine), with medieval tapestries and porcelain from China and Japan, or the modern art collection in Chateau Chasse-Spleen.
Thanks to the Great Growth Classification (Classement des Grands Crus Classés) made by Napoleon in 1855 the most prestigious wines are classified by 5 categories (from 1st to 5th Growths). Five Médoc Appelations are considered as Premier Grand Cru in the classification. The Médoc is home to 8 AOC: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Moulis-en-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Sainte-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux. The latter, a wine growing commune centred on the village of Margaux, houses an impressive and magnificent chateau. Besides, you can visit 21 other important chateaux in the area.