Bordeaux is one of the most important wine regions in the world, exporting more than half of the most valued wines in the world. Its prominence is rooted in its soil/climate, which is heavily dictated by the Atlantic Ocean which acts as a barrier to extreme weather. The weather here is temperate and cool.
History of Bordeaux
The vine was introduced to the Bordeaux region by the Romans, probably in the mid-1st century (50 A.D), to provide wine for local consumption.
12th Century: Popularity of Bordeaux wines in England increased dramatically following the marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. The marriage made the province of Aquitaine, English territory, and thenceforth the majority of Bordeaux was exported. At this time, Graves was the principal wine region of Bordeaux, and the principal style was clairet. This accounts for the ubiquity of claret in England.
1337-1453: The export of Bordeaux was interrupted by the outbreak of The Hundred Years’ War between France and England in 1337. By the end of the conflict in 1453 France had repossessed the province, thus taking control of wine production in the region.
17th Century: Dutch traders drained the swampy ground of the Médoc in order that it could be planted with vines, and this gradually surpassed Graves as the most prestigious region of Bordeaux. Malbec was dominant grape here, until the early 19th century, when it was replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon.
1855: the châteaux of Bordeaux were classified
1875-1892: almost all Bordeaux vineyards were ruined by Phylloxera infestations. The region’s wine industry was rescued by grafting native vines on to pest-resistant American rootstock and all Bordeaux vines that survive to this day are a product of this action.
Soil & Surface Area
The geological foundation of the region is limestone, leading to a soil structure that is heavy in calcium. The Gironde estuary dominates the regions along with its tributaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers, and together irrigate the land and provide an Atlantic Climate, also known as an oceanic climate, for the region.
120,000 Hectares (1 hectare = 10,000 square meters)
Main Grape Varietals
Merlot – Roasted aromas, and flavors reminiscent of red fruit (such as plums) and figs after ageing in bottle for several years. Also known as clot.
Cabernet Sauvignon – A traditional late-ripening local variety. The gravely soil of the Left Bank provides the necessary warmth for optimum ripening. This grape variety contributes structure to the wines as well as hearty tannins and a flavor profile including liquorice, black fruit (such as blackcurrant), and elegant aromas of forest floor with age. Also known as bouche, sauvignon rouge, vidure.
Cabernet Franc – Cabernet Franc ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon. It is an excellent complementary grape variety that rarely makes up the majority of the final blend. It adds freshness, finesse, and aromatic complexity as well as hints of raspberry and violet. Also known as bouchet in Pomerol & St. Emilion
ALSO: Petit Verdot, Malbec & Carmenere
Sauvignon Blanc – Provides the wines with the necessary acidity as well as minerality, aromatic freshness, and varietal aromas, such as citrus, boxwood, and fig leaves.
Semillon – Main grape variety for semi-sweet and sweet white wines and is almost always a component of dry white wines as well. It contributes roundness, richness, and apricot and honey aromas.
Muscadelle – Plays a secondary role in the blend for both dry and sweet white wines (generally no more than 10%), is a fragile but very interesting variety with musky floral overtones.
Explain Classification System of 1855
When Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system for France’s best Bordeaux wines which were to be on display for visitors from around the world. Brokers from the wine industry ranked the wines according to a château’s reputation and trading price, which at that time was directly related to quality.
The wines were ranked in importance from first to fifth growths (crus). All of the red wines that made it on the list came from the Médoc region except for one: Château Haut-Brion from Graves.
1973: Château Mouton Rothschild is elevated from a second growth to a first growth vineyard
Best Vintages of Bordeaux – 1961, 1982, 1989, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005
dis stuff is ‘spensive
Château Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac)
Château Latour (Pauillac)
Château Margaux (Margaux)
Château Haut-Brion (Pessac, Graves)
Château Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac)
For Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Growths, click here.
Classifications for St. Emilion (c. 1955, updated every 10 years)
Premiers grands crus classés A
Chateau Cheval Blanc
For all other growths, click here.
For Classification of-Leognan (c. 1959), click here.
The 1855 Classification of Sauternes & Barsac -> Premier Cru Superieur: Chateau d’Yquem. For all others, click here.
Roughly 780 hectures, Pomerol is the smallest wine producing region in France. Petrus and Le Pin are the top wines in the region but oddly enough no wines in Pomerol are classified, unlike Bordeaux, St. Emilion and even Satuernes & Barsac. Pomerol was granted its AOC status in 1936 as part of the first wave of AOC
While it is now one of the most prestigious of the Bordeaux AOCs, this situation is relatively recent, dating to the second half of the twentieth century, which is often given as one of the reasons why Pomerol is not included in any of the Bordeaux classifications
Jean-Pierre Moueix and his family are widely credited with putting Pomerol “on the international map”. Born in the central French department of Corrèze, Moueix moved to the Bordeaux region with his family and first attempted to open up a négocianthouse in the city of Bordeaux itself. However, he found that market heavily saturated, so he moved across the river to the Libournais region and opened up a négociant house in the city of Libourne in 1937. In 1945, Moueix acquired exclusive selling rights to Château Pétrus.
The 1982 vintage was a watershed moment for Moueix and Pomerol. Aided by a strong US dollar and the glowing reviews of American wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr., the region gained a strong foothold in the American market and helped propel estates like Pétrus to unprecedented prices on the auction circuit.
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