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The Bordeaux winegrowing region

No other wine-producing region has such an impressive history. The entire world of wine is shaped by the Bordeaux style and its famous châteaux vintages. Bordeaux is France’s most significant winegrowing region.
Not only does Bordeaux's production exceed that of most winegrowing countries in terms of numbers, the quality is also unbeatable. A sophisticated classification system has raised the level and contributed to the great prestige of the Bordeaux region. The fine wines of the Premier Grand Cru Classé category command very high prices on the wine market. The most famous brand is probably Mouton Cadet, which brings wine lovers top wines at affordable prices. In spite of exorbitant prices, speculation and other negative headlines that everyone has been talking about lately, this style and these great wines are what the entire wine world is looking for.
The Romans were among the first to recognize that Bordeaux was an important winegrowing region.

History

Bordeaux: an ancient trading city. In the past this brought a number of infrastructural advantages. Its location and its large port were of the utmost importance for the export of wines. The Romans were among the first to recognize that Bordeaux was an important winegrowing region. After them the region was settled by both Franks and Basques, who also showed great interest in wine growing.
The first Golden Age of Bordeaux viticulture began in the 12th century, triggered by an alliance with the English. Concessionary customs duties enabled Bordeaux to become the most important trading centre for wine. The English dominated trade in the Bordeaux wine region for 300 years, but after the Hundred Years' War they were replaced by another maritime power: Holland. It was the Dutch who were responsible for the drainage and agricultural cultivation of the Médoc at the beginning of the 17th century. The foundation of the Château Haut-Brion and Château Margaux wines, which are still renowned today, dates from this period.
The English once again made their mark on the Bordeaux winegrowing region in the 18th century. They established extremely enterprising trading houses that marketed Bordeaux wines worldwide, and they were responsible for the classification system in 1855, which not only represented a milestone in the quality assurance of the region's wines, but also became a global model. The English were later replaced by merchants from Burgundy and by the French state, though the wine trade with England and other countries continued. The region had an excellent reputation, and Bordeaux viticulture continued its successful development.At the end of the 19th century the advent of phylloxera destroyed large parts of the Bordeaux winegrowing area. The first half of the 20th century was not easy for Bordeaux either: the world wars hampered both winegrowing and the wine trade. No new beginning was possible until after the Second World War, when the region experienced a renewed heyday thanks to improved cultivation methods and different blends of grape varieties. Faced with new competitors in Australia and California, winegrowers gave their estates a technical upgrade – and technical advances in the 1960s and 1970s resulted in the great vintages of the 1980s. The region's reputation has risen steadily since then, and so have prices.

Geography

Stretching 150 kilometres from north to south and up to 70 kilometres from east to west, Bordeaux is one of France's largest winegrowing regions. The region has a wide range of very heterogeneous terroirs, which is why a wide variety of grape varieties thrive on its soils. River courses significantly shape the landscape, dividing the Bordelais into both larger zones and many smaller individual areas. Geographically Bordeaux can be divided into three main zones of similar character. The Gironde and Garonne rivers once washed up sand and sediment from the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, creating perfect conditions for Bordeaux viticulture on the left banks of the two rivers: lean soil and outstanding water permeability. The northern area of the Rive Gauche is home to the Médoc growing region, which is mainly planted with red varieties.South-west of the Haut-Médoc, Graves is a distinct zone where the pebble-strewn soils produce wonderful sweet wines and whites.The entire area beyond the right banks of the Gironde and Garonne is called the Rive Droite. The fork formed by the Dordogne and Garonne rivers forms the Entre-Deux-Mers zone, where the high clay and pebble content of the soils makes them ideal for the production of extract-rich red wines and quaffable white specialities. Several small, autonomous Bordeaux winegrowing regions combine to form further areas of the Rive Droite, often known as Blayais in the north and Libournais in the south. Beyond the river fork, on the other bank of the Dordogne, lie the regions that brought Bordeaux wines global fame: Pomerol and Saint-Émilion.
Each and every wine connoisseur associates the name of Bordeaux with excellent aromatic red wines.

Climate

The passage of the Gulf Stream off the Atlantic coast makes winter in Bordeaux mild and wet. Even in spring, Bordeaux's vineyards are safe from frost. Summer is hot, and autumn, although less constant than the other seasons, is usually warm and long.

Wines

Each and every wine connoisseur associates the name of Bordeaux with excellent aromatic red wines – and no wonder, as 85% of the total vineyard area is planted with red varieties. But there are also treasures to be found among the whites. The wide range of terroirs and varieties makes it difficult to reduce the winegrowing regions of Bordeaux to a common denominator.
Fruity, single-varietal Merlots and the typical red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc are the undisputed signature varieties of the Bordeaux wine region.But other wines made from grape varieties that are rather rare on a worldwide comparison also enjoy great popularity. These include fresh white wines, mostly blends of Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle. Each region focuses its production on different wines, among them:
  • Médoc: tannic but fruity red wines
  • Saint-Émilion and Pomerol (Rive Droite): fruity, smooth and full-bodied red wines
  • Graves: full-bodied red wines and fruity, dry whites
  • Sauternes and Barsac (Rives Gauche): sweet white wines, golden and full-bodied

Popular wines from Bordeaux

The wine regions of Bordeaux

Grape varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon is the flagship wine from the Bordeaux growing region, followed in descending order by the following red varieties that are also important: Cabernet franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Though the range of whites is smaller, excellent single-varietal white wines are produced in the Bordelais. White grapes are also used for blends: the famous Sauternes would be unthinkable without the noble Sémillon grape. As well as the Loire, Bordeaux is also an important growing area for Sauvignon blanc in France.
Areas of the Bordeaux winegrowing region

Médoc

Before the Gironde flows into the Atlantic Ocean it passes through the Médoc, a core area of the Bordeaux winegrowing region. Although the Médoc stretches only a few kilometres along the left bank of the Gironde, it produces the substantial vineyard yield of around one million hectolitres per year. The appellation of the same name accounts for a large proportion of total production. The Haut-Médoc vineyards further south produce these world-class wines: Saint-Estèphe, Paulliac, Saint-Julien, Moulis-Listrac and Margaux.

Graves

The Bordeaux winegrowing region on the left bank of the Garonne, south of the city, is called Graves. It is home to the famous Château Haut-Brion and Château Pape-Clément wineries, which are among the oldest in the Bordelais. Winegrowing in the Graves is also dominated by red varieties, which occupy two thirds of the total vineyard area. But lovers of dry and sweet wines alike should definitely try the white wines of the Graves.The low-lying terrain and interaction with the river create a damp coolness: ideal conditions for the spread of the botrytis mould. The noble rot caused by the fungus gives the grape juice an intense sweetness that is never sticky. The world of sweet wines is unthinkable without bottles proudly bearing the name Sauternes. They are in demand worldwide as accompaniments to desserts. The Sémillon grape is the most common component of the region's white wines, followed by Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle.

Rive Droite

The largest winegrowing area in the Bordeaux region north of the Gironde and Garonne rivers includes the two prestigious appellations of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol. They have heterogeneous terroirs with very different characteristics, which sometimes even differ from one château to the next. The cultivation of several different grapes also ensures variety, which accounts for the region's many blends. Merlot and Cabernet franc, for example, can be found in the old-established Bordelais blend.The Entre-Deux-Mers area, on the other hand, produces wonderfully fresh white wine blends.

Vineyard area and production volume

121,000 hectares, some 6 million hectolitres per year.
The classic Bordeaux red wine blend, noble sweet Sauternes or dry white wine cuvées – Mondovino takes you on a journey through the entire Bordeaux winegrowing region. Ordering a Bordeaux from our online shop is quick and easy, and so is buying one during your next visit to a Coop sales outlet.