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The Pauillac terroir has been crafted by the hand of man for millennia, in particular along the river. The territory of Pauillac as we know it today was created when two former parishes, Saint-Martin de Pauillac and Saint Lambert de Rignac, whose respective lords were Lafite et Latour, were joined together. The wines from these two parishes have always ranked among the elite of Médoc growths, from the Middle Ages to the present day, whether they were domain wines or parish wines.

This dichotomy is also encountered in the types of soils found in Pauillac. To the south of the outcrop on which the town is built, the terroir consists of Glacial or Pyrenean gravel, deposited by the river during two different Mindel Glaciation periods. To the north, only the Mindel I gravel remains, the oldest and highest, whereas to the south, Mindel II gravel lines the river. During the Wurm period, the river hollowed out its bed closer to the current banks and the more recent Riss gravel deposits were carried away while erosion sculpted the relief.
Its action was amplified by subsidence (syncline) that transformed the river façade of Pauillac into a basin, drained by the Pibran Marsh. The back of Pauillac was less affected by the hollowing-out process and remained a plateau.

The nature of the geological terroir of the two historical Premiers Crus Classés in Pauillac, Latour and Lafite-Rothschild, is therefore very different, with Mindel II gravel for Latour and Mindel I gravel for Lafite-Rothschild. The north of the Château Fonbadet terroir borders Château Mouton Rothschild, the central section near Pauillac is adjacent to Château Lynch Bages, and the southern section neighbours on Château Latour and Château Pichon Baron de Longueville.