(Extract from the study of agricultural structures in the commune of Moulis-en-Médoc by APIETA and the Conseil Général).
From the point of view of lithology, the commune of Moulis-en-Médoc can be divided into three parts:
- to the east, the geology of the commune is dominated by outcrops of fluvial formations from the Paleo Garonne.
- to the west of the D1215 road, , situated at the edge of the Médoc wine region, this part of the commune has a geology dominated by sand from the Landes, clay-gravel material and ancient gravel out wash and their colluviums;
- between these two
To sum up, three geomorphological zones can be easily identified in the territory of the commune:
- the gravel out wash (to the east)
- the limestone and clay-limestone outcrops of the substratum
- the sandy-clay plain and its gravel out wash (to the west)
Its situation “in the background”
The AOC Moulis en Médoc, to the west of most of the communal appellations of the Médoc – three kilometres from the estuary – one of only two communes not to face the river (the estuary) like the great communes of the Médoc.
However, we can note the importance given to the “essential of bordering the estuary” by René PIJASSOU in his description of the Medoc vineyard: Finally, threatened by the sands of the Landes to the west, bounded on the east by lowlands, the vineyard of the Haut-Médoc is reduced to a thin strip of 3 to 4 km in width towards Cantenac, Margaux, Soussans; it shrinks even more towards Cussac-Lamarque; then it expands somewhat from Saint-Julien-Beychevelle to Saint-Estèphe where it branches out towards Cissac Vertheuil. Of course, the vineyard might seem wider in Moulis and Listrac; it would measure about ten kilometres wide; but we should not neglect the forested areas and moors that isolate the “inside vineyards” from the essential border close to the estuary. (René PIJASSOU, in « Un grand vignoble de qualité, le Médoc », tome 1, pages 20 et 21).
Finally it should be noted that this installation of vineyards in Moulis bears witness to its greater age (“Its vineyard is without doubt one of the oldest in the Médoc” according to Bordeaux and its Wines by C. Féret and M.H. Lemay, 14th Edition, 1991, page 551).).
In fact in the 14th and 15th centuries, the vine was planted more in the interior than on the edge of the estuary. Winegrowers at the time preferred to avoid the harmful effects of humidity from the river and fogs, which favoured rot and decimated their vineyards.
Historical elements concerning factors linking it to the terroir
AOC Moulis-en-Médoc is the smallest of the communal appellations. Its 634 hectares of vineyard represent about 4% of the Médoc’s vines.
However, in the 19th century its vineyard was twice as large:
– In 1874: 1 120 hectares of vineyard (Référence statistiques générales de Gironde. Féret, 1874, page 335).
– In 1892: 1 500 hectares of vineyard, “spread over 200 producers” (Référence : Le Grand Bernard des Vins de France « Moulis Listrac » par Didier TERS, page 54).
Birth of a terroir (17th and 18th centuries)
The modern vineyard in the Médoc was born after the devastation of the Revolt. The mention of the first winegrower in Moulis appeared in the parish registers in 1671; it was the baptism of Jean FILLEAU, son of a winegrower who lived in Mauvesin.
By comparison, the terroir of LAFITE (fiefdom of Pauillac) dates from 1660 when Jacques de Ségur planted it with vines (source: cours de René PIJASSOU, DUAD 1982).
It should be noted that FILLEAU is a “gavache” name, (nickname for people coming from the north of the Garonne and speaking the oïl language); he set up roots in Moulis thanks to work provided by the seigneur de Mauvesin who had need of his know-how to produce quality wines (source Georges BAYONNETTE, historian and mayor of Moulis-en-Médoc).
Later there were increasing mentions of winegrowers in the baptismal registers, until it became so common that it disappeared.
Actors in the development of Moulis
Almost all the marriages of Moulis people were with those from neighbouring villages, frequently Lamarque and Arcins.
In order to avoid division of properties, these old families are found in the four parishes (Lamarque-Arcins-Listrac-Moulis) alternatively according to the extinction of family branches (for example the RENOUIL, RAYMON, BERNARD, ROBERT, SEGONNES, BACQUEY families).
The original Moulis vineyard developed simultaneously in all the terroirs.
The first was that of the seigneur de Mauvezin. The major expansion of the vineyards took place later; it dates from the mad rush to plant (in 1720, after the Great Frost).
The workers of Grand Poujeaux hesitated to plant vines intensively and it was the great estates from the seigneurie of “Poujeau”, the commander of Arcins, as well as those of the bourgeois families Lahaye Poyen and Castaing, which were cleared to create the major vineyard of Grand Poujeaux.