The region of Bordeaux, France is largest wine growing region in the world. Bordeaux is made up of five main districts - Medoc, St. Emilion, Pomerol, Graves, and Sauternes. While Medoc and the entire region are best known for their reds (“Clarets”), white wines also have their place. Graves, a sub region in Bordeaux, creates dry whites, while the Sauternes region is best known for its sweet whites.
Any wine produced in the Bordeaux region is known as a Bordeaux wine, but when most people say “bordeaux wine”, they are typically referring to the classic red blend. The red Bordeaux are created with Cabernet Sauvignon, which are often blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The color tends to be a ruby/garnet shade. The flavor is typically a light one, with blackberry, black fruits, wood, and other notes being typical.
Graves, which are the dry whites, are wines made by blending Sauvignon Blanc with a small amount of Sauvignon Gris. Sauternes, the sweeter whites, are made with Semillon, Sauvignon and a small amount of Muscadelle.
The history of wines in Bordeaux is a long one, dating back over 2000 years, with the Romans often being the first people credited with growing and producing wine there, in the first century AD.
In 1152 the marriage of the future king of England Henry Plantagenet, and Eleanor of Aquitaine, which made the province of Aquitaine English territory, opened Bordeaux wines to the lucrative English market. This saw a rapid expansion in both the production, and exporting of wines from the region.
The 17th century saw another surge in wine production in the Bordeaux region. The Dutch opened new distribution channels to the Bourgeosis. Marshland around Medoc was drained and used for the planting of new vineyards.
The bright and prosperous future of Bordeaux wines was shattered in the mid 19th century with the arrival of the Phylloxera infestation. Brought to France from North America, these microscopic sap sucking insects feed on the leaves and roots of grapevines. The vines of Bordeaux had little, if any, resistance to Phylloxera. The wine industry of the area was only saved by grafting the local Vitis Vinifera onto the roots of the Phylloxera resistant North American Vitis Aestivalis.
The Bordeaux region is located in South West France. Because of its close proximity to the Atlantic coast its climate tends to be temperate, with short mild winters, hot summers and a high degree of humidity.
The region covers a huge 6664m2 (10725kms2), with some 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of vineyards planted.
The soils of the Bordeaux region are diverse, consisting of gravel, clay and sandy stone. The best vineyards in the region are located near the Gironde river where the soils are gravel based and well drained.
Bourdeaux produces world class wines. Being a large area, with diverse soils, grapes and conditions Bourdeaux wines can vary greatly from vineyard to vineyard. The whites can be anything from Sweet to dry, herbaceous to oaky, the reds can be anything from the strong tasty Cabernet Sauvignon's, to soft fruitier Merlots.