Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

St-Estèphe, the northernmost of the four important communal appellations in the Haut-Médoc district of Bordeaux. St-Estèphe is separated from the vineyards of Pauillac’s Ch lafite only by a stream—indeed Ch Lafite owns some land in the commune of St-Estèphe itself. To the immediate north of St-Estèphe, across a stretch of polder, lies the Bas-médoc, the lower, lesser portion of this most famous region.

The soils of St-Estèphe contain their fair share of gravel, but these layers of gravel are often to be found on a clay base. These more poorly drained soils are cooler and can delay ripening, leaving St-Estèphe grapes higher in acidity than their counterparts further south in the Médoc. In Bordeaux’s low-rainfall vintages, such as 1990 and 2003, the water-retaining clays of St-Estèphe have an advantage.