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The northernmost of the Médoc’s four major communes, the tiny, somewhat sleepy village of St.-Estèphe has a reputation for producing wines of exceptional longevity and the most tannic of all Bordeaux.  This is due no doubt to the soils, which have fewer gravels and a higher clay content than the other communes.  The higher proportion of clay is notable for two characteristics it imparts on the wines - they are generally have higher acidities (and lower pH) than those of other st.jpgcommunes and have less capacity for drainage - not ideal in wet vintages.  However the obverse of this is that in hot, dry vintages the soils are better suited to retain moisture, and hence can produce a higher-than-usual number of outstanding wines in such years (like 2003, 1990 and 1989). 

Extrapolating from these characteristics, it is generally true that the wines of St.-Estèphe tend to be worth seeking in better seasons, rather than poorer.

It is worth noting the impressive number of cru bourgeois properties present in St.-Estèphe, and is a commune that can offer the consumer excellent value, as well as absolute top-quality from its best properties (notably Cos d’Estournel, Montrose and Calon-Segur).

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