Bordeaux: Iconic Wine Region

The Bordeaux region is one of the most iconic wine regions in the world, renowned not only for the quality of its wines but also for the prestige that comes with ownership of prominent vineyards such as Château Margaux and Château Lafite Rothschild. But what exactly makes Bordeaux so special? Learn all about this famous region in this article with eight essential things you need to know about Bordeaux.

Most people think of Bordeaux when they envision the renowned Haut-Medoc wines with names like  Ch. Margaux (Ch. is the abbreviation for Chateau). Ch Lafite Rothschild, Ch. Mouton Rothschild, Ch. Lafite, Ch. Latour, and Ch. Haut-Brion. It is easy to ignore the other several thousand Chateaux in the area because these five wineries, sometimes referred to as “the Big 5,” are so well-known. Bordeaux produces so much wine that it accounts for 34% of all French wine exports in terms of value. With 1 in 6 residents working in one way or another in the numerous facets of the industry, it is a massive industry in the area.

History

From the Middle Ages, The Gironde vineyards developed into the oenological and business paradigm that is still in use today starting in the Middle Ages. The Gironde vineyards evolved into the oenological and economic paradigm that is still in use today starting in the Middle Ages, thanks to Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine’s marriage to Henry Plantagenet, the future King of England, in 1152. Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine’s marriage to Henry Plantagenet, the future King of England, in 1152 sealed Bordeaux wines’ death.

In the production, marketing, and delivery of wine to Great Britain, Bordeaux developed a monopoly. Fronsac, Saint-Émilion, Cadillac, Barsac, and Langon are all included in the vines’ reach. Bordeaux’s oldest wine guild, Saint-Émilion, was established in 1199.

The early 19th century marked the start of a new golden age. Bordeaux was once again a favourite of the English, whose production increased by twofold and exports by thrice.

Napoleon III requested the 1855 Classification system to commemorate the World’s Fair, which led to an improvement in quality.

Powdery mildew, a dreadful vine disease, hit the vineyards in 1851. They found in 1857 that the sickness could be wiped out by spraying sulphur on the grapes!

The whole vineyard was destroyed by phylloxera between the years of 1875 and 1892. In the end, the vines were preserved by grafting disease-resistant Bordeaux scions onto American rootstock. Mildew pursued phyloxera’s path. When the Bordeaux combination, a concoction of slaked lime and copper sulphate, was developed, it brought this parasitic fungus under control.

Climate

Bordeaux has a moderated maritime climate that benefits from the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. This brings warm water from the Caribbean to northern Europe. Additionally, it lengthens the growing season because spring frosts are seldom an issue and grape ripening can last far into October.

The Atlantic does, however, also bring a lot of rain and humidity. Vineyards were shielded from the worst of the Atlantic storms by the Landes forest and the sand dunes along the shore. But the rainfall is high, the average rainfall is 950 millimeters per year. It rains all through the year, which can interfere with fruit development and blossoming, encourage rot, and weaken the flavour of the grapes when they are harvested.

Bordeaux Wine

Any wine produced in the Bordeaux region is termed a Bordeaux wine, regardless of the grape type used to manufacture it. It is possible that it is a white, red, or rose wine. Nonetheless, the red Bordeaux wines are the most well-known types. In Bordeaux, typically they use famous grape types such as Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon in their whites, while they commonly used Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in red wines.

The Bordeaux region, as we have known long for producing some of the most notable and complex wines globally. More specifically, it has been producing excellent wines since the 17th century, owing to a rich and heightened geographic imprint leftover from the Ice Age period and an optimal atmosphere, and a diverse range of water sources.

Bordeaux Wine

Different Styles Of Bordeaux Wines

Bordeaux, like the other parts of France, organises its wines using the Appellation d’Origine Protégée system. There are now 60 handles in Bordeaux, and the region is home to around 8,500 ranchers. Unlike Burgundy, Bordeaux wineries are more commonly referred to as Châteaux. The region is famed for its powerful red[1] wines, but it also produces some of the world’s most delicious white wines. Fresh, they are producing dry white wines with grape varieties, like Sauvignon Blanc or maybe Sémillon. Moreover, the Sauternes and Barsac labels produce some of the world’s most renowned dessert wines.

Similarly, Bordeaux is also famed for its sparkling wine, known as the Cremant of Bordeaux. Since April 1990, the Crémant de Bordeaux has been recognised as an AOC-classified beverage in the centre of Bordeaux. It is a product of the region’s long history of making sparkling wines, which dates back to the 19th century. Rose and white wines can use the appellation. It is expected that the whole Bordeaux AOC vineyard region (61,294 hectares total across all AOC vines, of which 800 hectares are specifically designated for Crémant) will be used to make the Crémant de Bordeaux, which now sells around 6.4 million bottles annually.

Sémillon, which accounts for around 60% of the wine, and Sauvignon were the two principal grape varietals utilised in the creation of the white Crémant de Bordeaux. Cabernet (70%) and Merlot (25%) are discreetly combined in the Crémant de Bordeaux rose varietal (30 percent ).

Regions

The entire Bordeaux region is divided into two main sections: the Right Bank and the Left Bank, but this divide does not stop there. The Left Bank of Bordeaux is home to the majority of the region’s remarkable-name Châteaux. Talking about the northern part of Bordeaux, the powerful monikers of the Saint-Estephe, Haut-Médoc, Margaux, and others may be found. Moreover, the wine appellations of Graves and Pessac-Léognan, and the pastry wine of Barsac and Sauternes, are all located in the southern part of the city. One of the world’s most famous grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, dominates Bordeaux’s Left Bank reds, with other territorial varieties thrown in just in case.

On the Right Bank, you will find Merlot reigns supreme. The well-known nicknames of various grape types such as Saint-Emilion, Fronsac, and Pomerol can all be found here, primarily located around Libourne. Most of the Côtes of Bordeaux in the region are found north of Blaye. Wines created in Bordeaux’s Right Bank are more flexible and open in their early phases because of higher Merlot percentages.

Terroir

Because of its wide variety of top-notch terroirs, Bordeaux has the distinction of having the biggest AOC vineyard in France. Every wine enthusiast will be satisfied by the huge variety of wines it makes, which also offers a wide price range.

The “six families” of Bordeaux wines are distinguished by geographical elements and winemaking techniques.
Two unique types of Bordeaux’s soil and terroir may be distinguished. The greatest terroir in Bordeaux’s Left Bank is primarily gravel-based. Clay and limestone soil types predominate on the Right Bank of Bordeaux.

The best grape-growing regions in the district are on the slopes around these three major water sources, and they are made up of well-depleting soils. Another interesting fact is that grape plantation [2]regions in Bordeaux may get moist due to the district’s Atlantic climate, which is not always a bad thing for the growth of grape plantations. Despite the fact that mugginess can cause plant infection and annoyances, it also contributes to hazy conditions, which aid botrytis development (respectable decay). The growth of various new types of wines such as Barsac and Sauternes is predicted to be aided by this respectable decay.

On This Day

43 AD: The production of Bordeaux wine appears to have commenced.

71 AD: In this year, Pliny the Elder documented the first genuine evidence of vines at Bordeaux.

1453: France took control of wine production.

2019: In regional mixes, Arinarnoa, Castets, and Touriga Nacional are allowed.

Want to read more about the history of wine? Check out these books!

The History of Wine, Oz Clarke 

Bordeaux: Left Bank, Benjamin Lewin MW

 References

[1] https://www.decanter.com/wine/wine-regions/bordeaux-wines/

[2] https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-topics/bordeaux-wine-buying-guide-tasting-notes-ratings/bordeaux-wine-tasting-notes-ratings-reviews-buying-guide/bordeaux-101-complete-beginner-guide-everything-bordeaux-wine/

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