Graves

Graves is the Médoc's mirror image on the inland side of Bordeaux and the other major left bank appellation. Like the Médoc, much of it is based on gravelly soils (hence the name of this wine region, which was famous even before the Médoc). Pessac-Léognan is an appellation created in 1987 to include all of the Graves' most famous châteaux, the greatest of which are actually in the southern suburbs of the city itself: Ch Haut-Brion and, once a great rival and now under the same, American ownership, Ch La Mission-Haut-Brion just across the road. As well as making firm, dry wines with the sort of minerally, 'warm bricks' overlay often found in red Graves, these properties also produce a full-bodied, oak-aged dry white wine needing lots of time in bottle (called Laville-Haut-Brion in the case of La Mission's white), which is typical of the Graves region too. Less glorified properties in the Graves proper along the left bank of the river Garonne can provide appetising reds and some much more interesting dry whites (which also age well) than the Bordeaux norm.

Some favourite producers: Clos Floridène (for whites), Couhins Lurton (for whites), Domaine de Chevalier, Fieuzal, Haut Bailly (red only), Haut-Brion , La Louvière, La Mission Haut-Brion, Pape-Clément, Smith-Haut-Lafitte (since 1990).

In a nutshell

Gravelly reds, and whites.