Haut-Medoc is the large southern section of the greater Medoc district of Bordeaux in south-western France and also the name of the appellation that covers the vineyards here. It accounts for two-thirds of the Medoc peninsula and produces more fine wine per acre than almost anywhere else in the world.
The Haut-Medoc is home to the 'famous four' Bordeaux appellations of Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estephe and Saint-Julien, as well as the lesser-regarded Listrac and Moulis. They account for the majority of the wines produced here. The remainder are produced under the more general Haut-Medoc title.
The soil in the Haut-Medoc region is mainly composed of thick gravel layers that have been swept down river over time and now sit on a base of heavy clay. The warm, well-drained gravel terraces provide ideal growing conditions for the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that dominate plantings in the Medoc. Further inland, the soils turn to deep deposits of clay, where the Merlot grape variety thrives. Patches of limestone and sandier soils add diversity to the more widely spread gravels, which otherwise dominate the terroir.