Volume 72: Macarthur family correspondence relating to wine, 1846-1900: No. 113
Bordeaux Tuesday Octr. 16th
Came up in the Steamer from the Medoc this morning. The banks of the river are very pretty as you approach the city particularly on the opposite side. The ranges of hills, much resembling in line & form those about Campbell town
and but in high cultivation, with numerous villas, diversify the landscapes. They however only produce indifferent wine. I carefully examined the Medoc country the last two days and made a little excursion into the "Landes" which skirt it immediately to the west. Indeed the "Medoc" seems to be merely a narrow strip of very gently undulating country separating the almost dead level Landes from the River, and not above a mile on two wide. The "Landes" are all private property cut up into fields divided generally by ditches & trenches and seem to consist of the same pebbly strata (but intermingled with [peat?]) which characterise the whole country. It seems to be no more than a raised beach or estuary. Much of the Landes is planted with vines but they are said not to yield well; to be perpetually subject to some accident. Pine woods are said to answer best and we saw much land sown with crops of Pinus Maritima from one to perhaps 30 or 40 years old or more. Some also we saw in its original heath with numerous ancient tumuli the origin of which they do not know. You can see no reasons, its level surface & bad drainage excepted why much of it should not yield as good wine as the finest parishes in the Medoc. So also in the Medoc, you can see no reason from the surface, on judging by sections of the underlying strata, which ore occasionally sits by the roadsides, why much vineyard which gives only common wine should not be as good as the best. I never saw greater uniformity of character over such an extent; a little more stoney in one spot than another. It is much more uniform in its level than I imagined, not a hill existing as high & bold as the one on which our house at Camden stands but rather like the gentler slopes up from Chapmans Corner & about the Germans cottages with the summits as broad & level as Chapmans Corner itself. Barton & Guestiers House besides possessing Leoville, Langoa Beychevelle &c &c rented for ten years Chateau Margaux, & Chateau La Tour in conjunction with their relatives the Johnstons, thus securing themselves the whole of these 1st growths.