Saint Julien lies on two plateaus between Pauillac and Margaux on the left bank of the Gironde Estuary. It is divided into essentially 2 areas - the riverside estates around the village of Saint Julien and the southern estates around the village of Beychevelle where the area's Cru Bourgeois are also grouped. The vineyards cover 2,200 acres.
Saint Julien has the highest proportion of classified estates of all the regions in Bordeaux – 11 in total. The quality is so good in Saint Julien, that second wines from those châteaux are very attractive. It is home to the 5 great second growths: Châteaux Ducru Beaucaillou, Léoville Poyferré, Léoville Barton, Gruard Larose and Léoville Las Cases and has a raft of high performing Châteaux in its ranks from 2ème (2nd Growths) to 4ème (4th Growths).
Terroir and Grapes
The waters of the Gironde Estuary have a warming influence on the climate which, coupled with the south easterly exposure of most vineyards, helps to fully ripen the Cabernet Sauvignon vines in this area. The terroir is very similar throughout Saint Julien - gravelly soils dominate and only the proximity of the estuary can cause slight variations in climate. In fact, Saint Julien's layer of glacial gravel takes the form of a huge rectangle over 3 miles long and 2 miles wide which sits on a limestone plateau. Saint Julien is a Cabernet Sauvignon commune. Blends of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with around 20% Merlot and a bit of Cabernet Franc are not unusual.
Many people say that Saint Julien is the classic claret, robust, powerful and refined with a balance of perfume, structure and mineral fruit. Saint Julien combines the Médoc's best qualities – its wines have the elegance of Margaux, the power of Pauillac and the cedar and blackcurrant nose of Saint Estèphe. The wines age well and have the ability to develop for a decade or more.