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Grapes & Wine of the BORDEAUX Region of France

bordeaux vineyard


The Bordeaux wine region covers a vast area being presently 120,000 hectares in vines, making it the second biggest wine region in the world behind the Languedoc. And it is certainly one of the most popular wine producing regions with wines for all tastes. The diversity of its soils, its mix of climates and combinations of grape varieties results in Bordeaux produces a very varied range of wines including dry white, sweet and white, red, rosé, clairet and sparkling wines as well as Fine Bordeaux, a brandy made from distilled wine. This range means that almost anyone can find a perfect wine match. So let's go and discover more about the grapes and wines of Bordeaux.

The Bordeaux region has an excellent environment for growing vines both in terms of the geographical features and the climate. The geological foundation of the region is limestone, leading to a soil structure that is heavy in calcium and comprised of gravel, sandy stone, and clay. The Gironde estuary, along with the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers, greatly influence the regional conditions and provide a maritime climate for the region.

The Bordeaux wine region which is famous for its red wines. Merlot (50%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (26%) are the most important grapes accounting for over 75% of the wine produced. While the white grapes only make up 20% of Bordeaux production, they reign supreme in the expensive sweet dessert wine market with the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world.

Principal BORDEAUX Grape Varieties

The dominate grape in Bordeaux (50%)and used extensively in Côtes wine region vineyards.Merlot adds to the flexibility, to the 'roundness' and to the body to Bordeaux wines. It enhances colour, smoother tannins and matures more quickly than Cabernets.
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon
Dominate grape in the Médoc wine region. charactCabernet Sauvignon (26% Bordeaux production) is rich in tannins, enhances the structure of the wine and assists ageing.
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc (10% Bordeaux production) enhances the structure and 'fruitiness' of the wine with floral tones of violets and light berries. More tolerant of poor soil quality and 'arid' conditions.
Sémillon (8%Bordeaux production) It is the main grape for sweet wines, such as Sauternes, due to its ability to develop noble rot. Important for the production of dry, fresh and lively white wines.
Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc (4%Bordeaux production) provides a distinctive aroma of great finesse to Bordeaux white wines.
Muscadelle (2% Bordeaux production) brings spices to the bouquet to the white wines.

BORDEAUX Wine sub-regions

Bordeaux region chart
Médoc wine region: Médoc - Haut Médoc - Margaux - Saint Estèphe - Pauillac - Saint Julien - Listrac - Moulis

The most famous of all the Bordeaux regions, the Medoc is situated on the left bank of the Gironde and between the coast and the town of Bordeaux that area has various soils and micro-climates being greatly influenced by the estuary and the ocean. The soil tends to be clay/sand/gravel however area like Margaux are dominated by white gravel brought down by the river. Predominately Cabernet Sauvignon , with lesser quantities of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Chaptalisation, the addition of sugar to the fermenting must, is permitted in the Medoc and often used in poorer year as in 2007
Fort Medoc

Les Viticulteurs du Fort-Medoc
Medoc wine
Graves wine region:Graves - Pessac Léognan - Sauternes - Barsac - Premières Côtes de Bordeaux

The Graves appellation is located just north of Bordeaux town on the left back of the Garonne. The name comes from the soil which is mixture of gravel, clay and sand carried down by the river. Robust attractive reds are produced however 66% of Graves wines are white ranging from fresh and fruit dry wines to semi-sweet and outstanding sweet wines. World-renown sweet dessert wines come from Sauternes and Barsac.

Pessac-Leognan appellation vineyard
Rivers wine region:Bordeaux aoc/Bordeaux supérieur - Entre deux mers — Sainte-Foy Bordeaux

In the area from the south bank of the Dordogne and the north bank of the Garonne this area of largely river flats of clay/sand chalky soils that tend to compact making growing of good grapes difficult. The area produces quality white wines and acceptable reds. However Sainte-Foy reds are grown on chalky soils and tend to have an elegant style and good balance.

Sainte-Foy Bordeaux
Sainte-Foy wine
Côtes wine region:Saint Emilion - Côtes de Castillon - Côtes de Francs - Pomerol - Fronsac - Côtes de Bourg — Côtes de Bayle

Situated on the northern side of the Gironde estuary and the Dordogne river the area contains a range of terrior and climates. They range from river flats, up the hillsides to high plateaux. While much of the area is adjacent to the Cognac area, the grape varieties change to Bordeaux with Merlot being dominate plus Cabernet Sauvignon, while with whites Sauvignon Blanc reigns supreme with Semillon giving an additional fruity finish to the wines. Appellations at the eastern end, such as St. Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac, produce exceptional red wines.
Saint Emilion vineyard

Saint Emilion vineyard
Saint Emilion wine


Name:Appellation Controlée - 57 appellations

Location:In the south west of France, near the Atlantic coast, around the city of Bordeaux

Vineyards:13,000 grape growers

Places: 9,000 wineries

Size of the vineyards:120,000 hectares (300,000 acres)

Production volume:7 million hl or 850 million bottles comprising red: 87%, dry white: 11%, sweet white: 2%

Soil: Various: Clayey-limestone, limestone, siliceous and chalky soils

Weather:Oceanic and temperate with short, mild winters, quite hot summers, long autumns and a high degree of humidity generated by the Atlantic Ocean.

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