Taken in its broadest sense, the notion of “soils for wine-growing”, often referred to as terroir, brings together several different factors: biological (choice of variety), geographical, climatic, geological and pedological (types of soil). Added to these are the human, historical and commercial aspects: for example, the existence of the port at Bordeaux and its commerce with Scandinavian countries encouraged the wine-growers of the 18th century to improve the quality of their wines.
In the northern hemisphere the vine is cultivated between the latitudes of 35° and 50°; it therefore has to adapt to very different climates. However, the most northerly vineyards usually cultivate only white varieties,
The vine belongs to the genusVitis,in which there are many species. Traditionally, wine is produced from different varieties ofVitis vinifera, which originated on the European continent. There are however, other species that originated on the American continent. Some of these are infertile, others produce wines with very particular organoleptic qualities (known asfoxéor foxy), and these are not very popular. However, these “American” varieties have a greater resistance to disease thanVitis vinifera.In the 1930s attempts were made to create hybrids that would be resistant to disease, like the American species, but would also produce wines of the same quality asVitis vinifera.Unfortunately, these were a complete failure.
Conditions for wine-growing are better in Moravia than Bohemia. There is a tradition here of wine-making that goes back at least a thousand years. The start of wine-making coincides with the occupation by the Roman legions in third century BC.
At present there are about 12,000 hectares of productive vines in Moravia. The climate is relatively favorable. The average annual temperature is between 10°C (50°F) and 15°C (59°F) during the growing seasons. Average precipitation is 500-700 mm per annum. The consistency of the soil is extremely varied, ranging through slate-like strata and chalk-bearing layers to gravel, and pre-dominantly clay soils. The vineyards are cultivated on both slopes and level ground with a preference for frost-free locations.
Perched on a natural hill, the Puisseguin commune owes its name to the word puy, meaning mount, and Séguin, one of Charlemagne’s lieutenants who had a chateau built on this strategic site. It was during the eighteenth century that Puisseguin’s economy began to rely largely on wine-growing and winemaking. Pierre Combret, a pioneer in wine-growing agronomy, intro-duced the use of grape varieties known as “noble” and made the most of this terroirs qualities. Many others followed suit. The commune’s future was thus assured and Puisseguin earned its place in Bordeaux wine-growing history.
Situated at an altitude of 89 meters, Puisseguin’s vineyards enjoy a mainly south- south-east exposure and a dry, bright, almost Mediterranean microclimate—proved by the presence of many holm oaks. Its hilly terrain of clay-limestone soil on a rocky subsoil provides good drainage and allows the vines to develop deep roots which draw out elements essential to the plants’ development. Nearly eighty properties make up this appellation*, including Chateaux Teillac, Guibeau-la-Fourvieille, Roc de Bernon, and Grand-Rigaud.
The Saint-Julien parish has existed since the seventh century according to some historians, the eighth according to others. In its early days the parish was in the archdiocese of Moulis. Known as Saint-Julien-de-Reignac, the commune changed its name to Saint-Julien-Beychevelle in the first half of the twentieth century, adding the name of the small port and hamlet whose activity contributed to the wine’s fame. During the seventeenth century a few aristocrats and well- informed owners discovered the terroirsexceptional wine-growing potential.
This commune, practically in the center of the Haut-Médoc, is separated from Cussac in the south by marshland created by two streams originating in the Saint-Laurent region. Rising up from the Beychevelle marsh is the attractive gravelly crest of Beychevelle, and on the north-east is the Saint-Julien hilltop, separated from Pauillac by the Juillac stream.