Bordeaux

bordeaux

The wine region of Bordeaux is situated in the south west of France where the rivers Garonne and Dordogne meet to form the Gironde estuary. The positioning and climate of the area are ideal for vine production, and it is considered to be the most important red wine region in the world.

It was probably the Romans who first planted vineyards in B...

bordeaux

The wine region of Bordeaux is situated in the south west of France where the rivers Garonne and Dordogne meet to form the Gironde estuary. The positioning and climate of the area are ideal for vine production, and it is considered to be the most important red wine region in the world.

It was probably the Romans who first planted vineyards in Bordeaux and the Roman poet Ausonius was the first to produce written documentation of wine in the region. Ausonius was also one of the first wine makers, and St Emilions prestigious Chateau Ausone takes its name from the poet.

How the vineyards evolved during the immediate centuries following the Roman era is somewhat hazy, although it is strongly believed that most viticulture was carried out in order to make wine for religious ceremonies. It wasn’t until the XII century that the area exploded, with vineyards quickly developing in the areas of Bourg, Blaye, Graves, around the Dordogne and the valley of the Garonne River.

In the 1600s that the same happened in the Medoc area, as many Dutch investors created vineyards, and thus, set in motion the foundations of what would later be known as the first cru classification, which is still used today.

The Dutch are not the only foreign link to Bordeaux. Since medieval times, the wines from Bordeaux were appreciated by the English, and a great deal of the wine was shipped to England. Most of the wines at the time were a deep rosé colour, called Claret. In 1152, Eleanor of Aquitaine’s marriage to Henry II politically tied the south west of France to England, which in turn greatly favoured wine exports. Many merchants from England became exceedingly wealthy, some building chateaux of their own.

As the years passed, more and more foreign investors from northern Europe arrived, and the role of the wine merchant became more and more important. Most of the reputed wines however, rarely made it to Paris, as the majority of them were exported. That would change mainly during the reign of Napoleon.

Today the demand for these wines easily overpowers the supply, and as a result the price of Bordeaux wines has soared, with some bottles sold for a price that most people would pay for a car.

Classifications and AOCs

MEDOC

Medoc is both an AOC and an area on the left bank of the Gironde that groups together seven other AOCs (St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux and Haut-Medoc). In 1855, the future President of the USA, Thomas Jefferson, drafted out the historic Bordeaux Classification which stands as the single most important and famous classification of any wine region in the world. Originally asked to do so for all of the region, he managed to taste and classify wines from Medoc and Sauternes only. The best chateaux were classed into five categories, with first growth being the most prestigious and originally only given to four: Chateau Latour and Chateau Lafite (both AOC Pauillac), Chateau Margaux (AOC Margaux) and for its white wine Chateau Haut-Brion (AOC Graves). The original list has stood the test of time with most changes coming between the third and fifth growths. It would not be until 1973 that a second growth, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (AOC Pauillac) was successfully granted the first growth status, and so far no other chateaux has been able to repeat this feat.

GRAVES

Graves, like Médoc, is also an AOC and an area that contains four other AOCs. The red and white wines of graves were not classed until 1953, and reviewed in 1959. Twenty three chateaux were given the Cru Classé status, seven of which produce both white and red, with most of them in the Pessac-Leognan AOC. Chateau Haut-Brion was also given this status for its red wine to go with the first growth status it was awarded for its white, effectively giving it double status!

SAUTERNES

This AOC known for its sweet dessert wines is located within Graves. The chateaux were also classified in 1855 but into two categories rather than five. One chateau, however, was given a separate category of first growth “supérieur” as its wines stood apart from the others: Chateau d’Yquem. The micro climates here are perfect for late-harvest production, and next to Sauternes are two other dessert wine AOCs: Cérons and Barsac.

LIBOURNAIS

Not an AOC in its own right, but the name given to the area on the right bank. Jefferson did not have enough time to visit all the wine producing areas in Bordeaux, and it took this side of the Region time to catch up. Some of the AOCs in this area have equalled the status of the left bank, even if the Cru system doesn’t apply to all: 

ST EMILION

1955 was when the first classification of St Emilion was made. Premier Cru Classé was the most prestigious, and was further separated into two categories of A and B. This was followed by Grand cru Classé and finally Grand Cru. It has since been reassessed and changed in 1969, 1985, 1996 and 2006. The 2006 classification was fiercely rejected by a number of winery owners who claimed that a number of the judges of the tasting panel had vested economic interests that influenced the classification, and thus were accused of being impartial. After several legal turns, the 2006 was subsequently judged invalid by the Bordeaux courthouse, and a new classification was made in 2012. As it stands, there are 18 wineries with Premiers Crus Classés status, four of which are classed as A: Chateau Pavie, Chateau Cheval Blanc, Chateau Ausone and Chateau Angélus.

Saint Emilion is the patron Saint of wine merchants and there are four other AOCs that include his name: Puissegeon St Emilion, St Georges St Emilion, Montagne St Emilion and Lussac de St Emilion.  

POMEROL

There is no classification of the Pomerol AOC. Pomerol is a unique AOC due to the soil type, which is made up of clay and “crasse de fer”. Crasse de fer is very firm soil that is a mixture of dirt and iron oxide. This unique soil type, adds character to Merlot and Cabernet Franc, producing wines that have extraordinary longevity. Château Petrus is the possibly the most reputed, followed by about ten others who compete for top spot. North of Pomerol is Lalande-de-Pomerol, with a more limestone and clay soil that does not produce the same character as its southern cousin, however the wines here are still complex.

FRONSAC and CANON DE FRONSAC

The latter of these two AOCs is about the third of the size, and the composition of clay and grey limestone produce tannic red wines that age really well. Fronsacs are generally lighter and fruitier.

CASTILLON CÔTE DE BORDEAUX

The second largest AOC in the Libournais after St Emilion, the wines from this AOC are normally easy drinking with medium body but can be more complex and tannic. They certainly represent one of the best value for money in the region.

ENTRE-DEUX-MERS

In between the Libournais and Graves is the zone literally called “in-between two seas”, due to the fact that the River Dordogne flows through it in the north and the River Garonne in the South. Entre-deux-Mers is also an AOC and most of the wine from here is light, easy drinking whites, reds and rosés. Yet in the southern part of the area are some very curious AOCs, like St-Croix-du-Mont, that produce interesting dessert wines, albeit less concentrated than Sauternes (that lies directly opposite on the left bank of the Garonne).

BLAYOIS and BOURGOIS

North-west of the Libournais is the area of Blayois and Bourgois, which consists of two AOCs: Blaye-Côtes-du-Bordeaux and Côte-de-Bourg. They both produce light to medium bodied Merlots.

GRAPE VARIETIES

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc are the three big red grape varieties cultivated in Bordeaux followed by Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenère. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the left bank and is highly used in Médoc and Graves. In turn, Merlot dominates the right bank and is the most important variety in Pomerol and St Emilion.  The red varieties of Bordeaux (even if Cabernet Franc is more typical of the Loire Valley) have conquered the wine world, and dominate not only in most new world wine regions, but old world regions as well.

As well as red varieties there are also a selection of white grapes that are important to the region, with Sémillon Blanc arguably the most. It is used in Sauternes for dessert wines, sometimes blended with Muscadelle, and has an extraordinary capacity to age well, often more than one hundred years. Sauvignon Blanc also has an important place, and is used mainly for dry crisp white wines predominantly in Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers.

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Bordeaux There are 7 products.

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    Great Bordeaux wine, Médoc, appellation d'origine contrôlée, "Château Sègue Longue", made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. 2012 is proof that this winery is capable of producing great wine even during an average vintage. Delicious aromas of black fruits with hints of jam, dried fruits, ground coffee and sweet spices....

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    Great Bordeaux wine, Fronsac, appellation d'origine contrôlée, "Château La Grave" by Paul Barre, made with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. A wonderfully greedy wine that is structured, complex and persistent. The light acidity brings out black cherry and red fruit flavours, and the wine has an aftertaste of spices with coffee.

    16,10 €
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    Great Bordeaux wine, Canon-Fronsac, appellation d'origine contrôlée, "Château La Fleur Cailleau" by Paul Barre, made with Merlot, Cabernet franc and Malbec. Aromas of truffle, the forest and sweet spices dominate this wine. They are joined by hints of ripe black fruits and toasted smells. This wine is powerful, well-structured and balanced.

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    Great Bordeaux wine, St Emilion Grand Cru, appellation d'origine contrôlée, "Château d’Arcole", made with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep seductive purple characterised by the glorious aroma of blackcurrant jam, embraced by subtle hints of grilled brioche and sweet spices. Full bodied with silky tannins, rounded off by a delicious persistent...

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    Great Bordeaux wine, Sauternes, appellation d'origine contrôlée, made from Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. Powerful, round, complex and mineral. Dates, black figs, prunes, chestnut honey, vanilla, dried pineapple and apricots. The immense pleasure of this wine is perfectly persistent.

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    16,00 € In Stock

    Great Bordeaux wine, Sauternes, appellation d'origine contrôlée, made from Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. This amazing dessert wine explodes in the mouth. The dominance of fresh tropical fruit is followed by dried fruit are followed by touches of minerality. The balance between sugar and acidity is perfect.

    16,00 €
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    21,00 € Out of stock

    Great Bordeaux wine, Sauternes, appellation d'origine contrôlée, made from Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle Rich with ripe yellow fruit, passion fruit, fig jam, and hints of lemon flower and acacia. Round and smooth with a magical aftertaste.

    21,00 €
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Showing 1 - 7 of 7 items