The wine we call “Claret” is, or should be, the exclusive produce of the Departementof the Gironde. The vineyards of the Gironde may be divided into six principal categories, namely:
1. Medoc. A strip of land some fifty miles long by six miles wide, lying on the south bank of the River Gironde. This district produces the celebrated wines of Chat. Margaux, Chat. Lafite, Chat. Latour, etc.
2. Graves. A small district lying just outside Bordeaux extending some twenty kilometres to the west of that city. This district is chiefly renowned in England for its white wines, but it is not so generally known that it produces a much larger quantity of red wines, such as, for instance, the celebrated Chat. Haut Brion.
3. Sauternes and Barsac. A small district south of the Graves, on the south bank of the River Gironde. This district owes its fame entirely to its fine white wines, the most celebrated of which is Chat. Y’Quem.
4. Entre-deux-mers. A district comprised between the River Dordogne on the north, and the River Gironde on the south, lying in the Departe-ment of the Gironde. Produces sound, useful wines.
5. St. Emilion and Pomerol. A hilly district north of the River Dordogne in the Arrondissement of Libourne. This district produces wines of a more generous character than the Medoc. They are often called the Burgundies of the Gironde.
6. Cotes and Palus. The Cotes wines are those from hillside vineyards in different parts of the Departement of the Gironde, and the Palus wines are those obtained from vines planted in rich alluvial soil adjacent to the banks of the Gironde, Garonne, or Dordogne.
Clarets are the most natural wines made, and owe nothing to any artificial aids to improve the wine. The colour, body, flavour, and alcoholic strength are all due to the species of grapes used in making the wine, to the nature of the soil, the aspect of the vineyards where such grapes are grown, and the natural fermentation of the wine.
As soon as the grapes are ripe they are carefully picked, and all unsound berries removed. After being pressed the juice of the grape is left to ferment in large wooden tubs, whence after a short time the wine is withdrawn into hogsheads.
Development proceeds naturally for two or three years, and the wine is occasionally ” racked,” or drawn off into fresh hogsheads.
The wine is then put into bottle, and will continue to improve in bottle for a length of time dependent on the quality of the wine and the characteristics of the particular vintage when it was produced.
From the Book “Harry” of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails by Harry MacElhone, London, 1921.