Bordeaux Wine Region
Bordeaux is the undisputed king of red wine. This region has been cultivating vines for more than 2,000 years and has perhaps the highest reputation for fine wines in the entire world.
The history of the Bordeaux wine region dates back to the ancient Romans who were the first people to cultivate, plant vineyards and produce Bordeaux wine.
The wines were distributed to Roman soldiers and citizens in Gaul and Britain.
Bordeaux had one other main advantage, it was located next to the Gironde river, which made transportation of their wines easy as the river meets the Atlantic ocean.
Bordeaux and England, in the beginning
The next step in the history of creating the Bordeaux wine region took place in 1152, when the heir to the Duchy of Aquitaine, known as Eleanor of Aquitaine, married the future king of England, Henry Plantagenet. Bordeaux wine was served at the royal wedding. Henry Plantagenet would late come to be known as King Henry II. By the late 1300’s, Bordeaux had become a large city.
In fact it was so big, after London, it was the second most populous city under control of the British Monarchy. The Bordeaux wine trade began exporting to England in 1302 from St. Emilion for the pleasure of King Edward 1.
The marriage between Bordeaux and England
The marriage between King Henry and Eleanor made sure Aquitaine, which included Bordeaux, was owned by England for over 300 years, coinciding with the conclusion of the hundred years war, (which really lasted 116 years) in October 1453.
So, by the time the Hundred Years War had finally concluded, Bordeaux wine had already been discovered by the British wine lovers! In fact, Richard the Lionheart, the son of Eleanor and Henry II made Bordeaux wine his everyday beverage. The Bordeaux wine buying public agreed saying, if Bordeaux was good enough for the King, it was good enough for all loyal British wine lovers.
From that moment forward, the Bordeaux wine trade began expanding. Bordeaux wine continued taking on more importance in trade with England. Twice a year, just prior to Easter and Christmas, several hundred British merchant ships sailed to Bordeaux to exchange British goods for wine.
Around 90% of Bordeaux grapes are red. A staggering 98% of the red grapes come from just 3 grape varieties:
• Merlot (65%)
• Cabernet Sauvignon (23%)
• Cabernet Franc (10%)
The remaining 2% percent are a combination of Malbec (980 hectares), Petit Verdot (490 hectares) and a tiny patch of Carmenere (6 hectares).
White grapes comprise just 10% of all grapes in Bordeaux, with the vast majority of these being a combination of:
• Semillion (49%)
• Sauvignon Blanc (43%)
• Muscadelle (6%)
Of the 2% remaining, Colombard, Merlot Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Folle Blanche, Mauzac Blanc, Ondenc and Ugni Blanc are used to produce generally affordable Bordeaux whites.
What Makes Bordeaux Different From Other Wines?
Bordeaux’s special flavors and unique qualities result from:
• Climate. Bordeaux has an unpredictable climate, with the wind and rain from the Atlantic Ocean blowing in from the west. Two rivers—the Dordogne and the Garonne—also run through the region, affecting the soil and weather. All this means that some grapes in Bordeaux don’t ripen fully or are damaged each year.
• Blending. As a result, local growers blend together different types of grapes, rather than rely on a single type to produce wine. Blending means winemakers can use the best grapes from a vintage to create consistent wines.
• Soil. Two rivers—the Dordogne and the Garonne—also run through the region, affecting the soil and weather.
There is a big difference between wines from the Right Bank and Left Bank, or should I say, there are several important distinctions between Bordeaux wines from the Left Bank and Bordeaux from the Right Bank.
The Left Bank consists of wines from the following major appellations; Margaux St. Julien Pauillac St. Estephe, Haut Medoc and Pessac Leognan appellations. In total, in the Left Bank of Bordeaux, the best wines come from eight different appellations or communes located primarily in what is often referred to as the Medoc. The Left Bank of Bordeaux is the home to all of the official 1855 Classified Bordeaux wines.
The Medoc also includes the Haut Medoc, Moulis, Medoc and Listrac appellations. In total, there are 13,727 hectares planted with vines in the Medoc. Looking on a map, the Medoc starts just north of the city of Bordeaux and extends north, past St. Estephe to the Le Verdon port. However, many people also consider the Left Bank to include the wines of Pessac Leognan, which adds an additional 1,199 hectares under vine bring the total amount of hectares under vine to 14,926!
The Left Bank is where you will find all the First Growth Bordeaux, as well as all the other 1855 Classified Bordeaux wines of the Medoc including the Second Growths, Third Growths, Fourth Growths and Fifth Growths. In the Left Bank of Bordeaux, more than 200 chateaux can be found that are classified as Cru Bourgeois.
The Left Bank is also the home of all the Cru Bourgeois estates. While most of the Cru Bourgeois are located in Haut Medoc, others are situated all over the area from as far north as slightly above St. Estephe to below Margaux in the south as well. You can also find more than 40 chateaux classed as Artisan Crus, cooperatives and a countless array of small, unknown growers in the Left Bank of Bordeaux.
While all the wines from the Left Bank of Bordeaux are blends, in the Medoc, Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant grape, followed by Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Terroir: Mostly flat, with a gravely topsoil and limestone underneath. The soil composition can vary greatly from one plot to the next
The wines, vineyards and chateau from Right Bank of Bordeaux
This includes the best Right Bank Bordeaux wine producers from the most important Bordeaux wine producing appellations of the Right Bank: Pomerol and Saint Emilion. We also cover the best Value Bordeaux wine producers and the top chateaux located in best regions known for producing Bordeaux value wine, Bordeaux Superieur, Cotes de Bordeaux, Cotes de Castillon, Cotes de Francs, Fronsac Canon Fronsac, Lalande de Pomerol, and the various St. Emilion Satellite Appellations, Montagne St. Georges St. Emilion, Lussac St. Emilion and Pusseguin St. Emilion and the Cotes de Bourg.
Merlot is the most planted grape, with a lot of Cabernet Franc and some Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The result is softer style, richer New World flavors, and not as much tannin.
Terroir: Limestone surface with less gravel and more clay which Merlot prefers. Mostly flat with smaller plots of land, and more of a farmer feel.
The Right Bank looks and feels differently than the Left Bank starting with the vineyards and the majority of the actual chateaux that are in the region. In the Left Bank, you find numerous large, if not massive estates and vineyards that can be over 100 hectares in size.
That is not the case with Right Bank vineyards, which are often closer to an average of 5 hectares in size. There are a few, stunning, massive, architecturally, stunning chateau in the Right Bank, but generally speaking, you find more family homes and smaller, classic chateaux here.
Source: www.thewinecellarinsider.com và https://www.bordeaux.com/