When it comes to having great neighbors, Saint-Julien couldn’t improve its situation if it tried. Bordered by Pauillac and Margeaux, this small but esteemed appellation produces some of the most popular Left Bank wines on the market. The only downside to its famous surroundings is that it doesn’t always receive its own fair amount of attention, as it does not have a first growth château included in the 1855 Classification. But attention is justly deserved, as in spite of its diminutive size, Saint-Julien produces the highest proportion of classified-growth wines, with over 75% of its vineyards dedicated to top-tier Bordeaux producers. Its wines are elegant, refined and replete with finesse.
Based in the Haut-Médoc district in the southwest section of France, Saint-Julien compensates for its shortcomings by offering wine enthusiasts five highy rated second growths: Châteaux Léoville-Las Cases, Léoville Poyferré, Léoville Barton, Gruaud-
It’s hard to find a pocket of land in Saint-Julien that isn’t vine-laden, with perhaps the one exception being the banks of the Gironde estuary. Still, the river does its part: its warming breezes carry the climate that’s so compatible with Cabernet Sauvignon health, promoting this impressive abundance of vines. The vines are so rampant that some even extend towards neighboring châteaux in Pauillac, including the elite Château Latour. But that is all these two spots share,
For such a small patch of land, the Saint-Julien appellation has more regulations than one would expect: first, all wines must be made from grapes grown either in Saint-Julien Beychevelle, or in specific areas with the communes of Cussac and Saint-Laurent. The allowance of grape varietals is more diverse than other appellations, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenère, Petit Verdot and Malbec all approved, but the must come from vineyards that are densely planted and managed according to set specifications.
In the end, all the restrictions are worth it. Saint Julien wines are consistently rich, with a depth of color, structure, polish and elegance. These remarkable wines may come from a small place, but they are giants in the fine wine world.