If you ask an average person where are produced the best wines, it is very likely that he will answer Bordeaux. This reputation has even crossed the borders and abroad also, these wines are very recognized. Magic Vine? Outstanding wine growers? Let’s see how Bordeaux has managed to become a world reference, and how still produces today some of the most famous and most expensive wines in the world.
The Bordeaux vineyard has 114 000 hectares cultivated in the only department of Gironde. Red and rosé wines represent around 90% of production; while the remaining 10% is dedicated to the production of white. Bordeaux is known as a vineyard producing mostly appellation wines (98% of wine produced are AOC).
For Bordeaux, we often talk about a castle, but you can immediately forget the beautiful image that you have in mind because it is often only conventional farms surrounded by vineyards. Some castles are nevertheless well known and therefore produce wines whose prices go hand in hand (like the Château Pétrus for example, which produces bottles exceeding hundreds, even thousands of euros).
The vintages also have a great importance in the Bordeaux vineyards. Indeed, the vintage makes it possible to decide the price curve of the year. So, depending on the weather and the reputation of a vintage, prices vary. For example, we can find bottles of Bordeaux 2007 cheaper than 2010 (for the same castle). This is proof that the idea “the older a wine is, the more expensive it is” is a misconception.
Recent vintages often considered the best are: 2005, 2009, 2010
The appellation system of the Bordeaux vineyard is quite simple in short. It is divided from the least qualitative to the most qualitative in appellation:
So, the more precise it is, the better. A winemaker must comply with specifications to be able to claim a name, and the more the name is prestigious, the more the specifications is restrictive (eg no pesticide, a mandatory distance between each vine plan, ect … ). In addition, it is logical to respect a specific geographical area, it does not produce Bordeaux in Paris, it goes without saying. There are 65 AOC (controlled appellation of origin) in Bordeaux.
Let’s take an example :
On this map, we can see the vineyards of Bordeaux. The area surrounded in red represents all the areas that can claim regional appellations. The green one represents a subregional appellation (here Médoc). Finally, the blue zone is an area of municipal appellation (here Margaux).
Price range :
All prices can be found on this appellation. From grand cru wine at 100€ to low quality wine mass produced at 2€50, all wallets will be delighted. However, for the regional appellation “Bordeaux”, the prices rarely exceed 10 €, between 5 and 10 € you will find simple wines quite acceptable and even pleasant according to your desires. The more you search for a precise name, the more prices will go up (because it says restrictive specifications, called qualitative product). However, rest assured, once again all purses will be delighted because you will be able to offer wonderful bottles from any name between 5 and 20 €
Vines and wines:
The grape varieties massively planted on the Bordeaux vineyards are:
Merlot (red): He is the king of the right bank. It produces friendly, gourmet and sweet wines on the palate. These wines are usually bus young as they are reminiscent of a basket of red fruits to taste.
Cabernet Sauvignon (red): It represents the left bank. We mainly produce wines to age with their grapes. The tannins well present in this grape will allow after a few years to offer complex wines, combining black fruits, tobacco, animal aroma and more!
Sémillon (white): This variety is very sensitive to a disease that allows us to offer sweet wines with honey, jam or praline flavors. Who has never drunk Sauternes?
Sauvignon blanc (white): Offering expressive aromas of citrus, tender herbs or flowers, it is present in most Bordeaux dry white wines. In Bordeaux, the emphasis is on the freshness of Sauvignon wines (acidity).
3 anecdotes for the meals:
- Thanks to the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with the King of England in 1154, the wine trade exploded in Bordeaux. This has greatly helped the reputation of wines that Bordeaux still has today.
- At the time of the creation of the classification of 1855 (a classification supposedly grouped the best castles of Bordeaux), only castles of the left bank were chosen. As a result, the owners of these great castles have for a long time regarded the vintners of the right bank as peasants (including Saint Emilion for example).
- In England the word “Clairet” means red wine in general for centuries. However, clairet is also a Bordeaux specialty (a kind of pink and more colorful). I let you imagine the number of misunderstandings every day since.
What you must remember :
Bordeaux is mostly red wine with: left bank wines with more characters, more tannins and often to age in general at least 5 years, right bank of young and fruity wines, which can be enjoyed in all simplicity from the year of purchase.
There are many rankings in Bordeaux, all more or less controversial because they want to defend their own land. So do not stop at this and try the so-called “simple” wines because they could surprise you; while great wines exceeding three figures could disappoint you.
Whether cheese, meat, seafood or any other dish to enjoy, you will always find a Bordeaux wine to accompany.
The history of wine in this vineyard is insane. There are thousands of castles that can be visited (even in marathons!). Bordeaux is one of the most famous wines in the world, but you should not neglect the other less known châteaux because everywhere, lots of excellent wines await you.
If ever the vineyard of Bordeaux really interests you, I highly recommend the site of the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) which is really very complete: