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Among the names of famous Bordeaux wines, the words mouton, lafite, and cos all derive from old Gascon words for “sheep.”

Answer: False.

The now iconic terms are actually related to the archaic words for “hill.” Many of Bordeaux’s best vineyards are often on slight hillocks and/or on very well-drained soils of gravel and stone. As testament to this, their names: Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafite Rothschid, and Chateau Cos d’Estournel often pay tribute to this critical feature. While many of the vineyards of Bordeaux—and especially of the Médoc, including Margaux, Pauillac, St.-Julien, and St.-Estèphe—appear quite flat, there are gently rolling hills that create variations in topography, orientation to the sun, soil, and drainage patterns.

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