Château Cissac, Haut Medoc, France

Deep coloured with a nose of cooked fruits and fine oak. The palate is quite generous, with cassis and cedar notes, some dried tobacco and fine tannins.

Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot

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2017 Château Cissac, Cru Grand Bourgeois, Haut Medoc, France

Tasting Note

Deep coloured with a nose of cooked fruits and fine oak. The palate is quite generous, with cassis and cedar notes, some dried tobacco and fine tannins.

Food Pairing

Roasted game birds. Grilled rib steak.

Producer Info

Chateau Cissac is a historic Haut-Médoc wine property which dates from 1769. Located in the northern-most Haut-Médoc appellation, the property and appellation share a similar climate to that enjoyed by the Médoc: maritime, with the Gironde estuary and the Bay of Biscay combining to act as a climate regulator and the coastal pine forests sheltering the vines from the westerly and north-westerly winds. The soil, less diverse than in the Médoc, is predominantly sandy, with gravel.

Château Cissac belongs to the Vialard family, and its reputation was largely based on the tireless work of Louis Vialard, who arrived here in 1940 and established the wine’s fame through the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 2009 but his daughter Danielle had long taken over the wine-making and is now assisted by her own daughter, Marie. The vineyard is planted to 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, and the average age of the vines is 30 years.

The juice is fermented in huge wooden vats but is then aged in 225-litre oak barrels, 40% of which are new. With the vineyard established on a bed of gravel over a limestone base, it is unsurprising to see such a predominance of Cabernet Sauvignon and the style of the wine mirrors this, as it is made in a classic Medoc style.

Regional Info

Haut-Médoc is the large southern section of the greater Médoc district of Bordeaux in southwestern France. It accounts for two-thirds of the Médoc peninsula.

The appellation of the same name covers red wines produced within the same zone, but outside of the six communes which have their own AOP. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the main grape varieties. White wines made in Haut-Médoc AOP vineyards are bottled as Bordeaux Blanc.

The Haut-Médoc zone is home to the “famous four” appellations of Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Julien, as well as the less famous Listrac and Moulis. These actually account for the majority of the wines produced within the Haut-Médoc. The more general title is used for vineyards lying outside these communes.

The soil in the Haut-Médoc region is mainly composed of thick gravel layers that have been swept down river over time and now sit on a base of heavy clay. The warm, well-drained gravel terraces provide ideal growing conditions for the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Further inland, the soils turn to deep deposits of clay. The Merlot grape variety thrives in such places. In recent decades it has largely usurped Cabernet Sauvignon in these parts of the Médoc. Patches of limestone and sandier soils add diversity to the more widely spread gravels, which otherwise dominate the terroir.

Much of the peninsula is former swamp land reclaimed by Dutch engineers in the 1600s. This was largely prompted by foreign demand for wines from Graves to the south of Bordeaux city, and from Douro in Portugal.

At the northern and western extremes of the Médoc peninsula, wines are produced under the Médoc appellation. These are the most heavily dredged areas of former swamps with little or no gravel. Until the 1940s they were known as the Bas Médoc, as a clearer counterpoint to the Haut-Médoc, but this name was deemed unfairly negative.


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