The Bordeaux vineyards, from prestigious châteaux to original discoveries
Its reputation is well established. Considered as the world capital of wine, Bordeaux benefits from an international reputation and, naturally, from a strong demand. The vineyard has many appellations and some of the most prestigious wines in the world. Alongside these legendary wines, whose prices are regularly talked about, the Bordeaux vineyard offers a wide variety of wines that are much more affordable for wine lovers.
General presentation of the Bordeaux vineyard
The Bordeaux vineyard is located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region and covers the Gironde department, which is traditionally excluded from the adjoining South-West vineyard. It spreads out its nearly 120,000 hectares on either side of the Gironde estuary, into which the Garonne and Dordogne rivers flow. Between these two rivers and on their banks, the Bordeaux vineyards extend to the borders of the Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne.
Here, the flagship grape variety is Merlot. For red wines, which constitute the bulk of the region's production, it is generally combined with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle are the preferred grape varieties for dry, sweet and syrupy white wines.
The Bordeaux vineyard is the source of several dozen regional and communal appellations. The AOC system includes the "classified" crus of the Médoc and Sauternes, as well as the great wines of Graves and Saint-Emilion.
Traditionally, in order to understand the diversity of the terroirs, the Bordeaux vineyard is divided into different sub-groups:
The Médoc vineyard
The Médoc is probably the most prestigious vineyard in the Bordeaux region, with world-renowned wines such as Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild. The Médoc stretches along the left bank of the Gironde, northwest of Bordeaux. In addition to the prestigious AOC Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux or Saint-Estèphe, the region also offers high quality and affordable "bourgeois" wines. The red wines are the identity of the Médoc wines: the trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is joined in particular by Malbec and Petit Verdot.
The Médoc vineyard has two regional appellations:
And six communal appellations:
The Graves vineyard
To the south of the Médoc, this region extends along the left bank of the Garonne to the borders of the Lot-et-Garonne, between Bordeaux and Langon. The vintages of Château Haut Brion (Pessac-Leognan) are the only ones to represent the Graves in the 1855 Bordeaux wine classification.
The Graves vineyard has two regional appellations and two communal appellations:
- Graves supérieures (only sweet white wines)
Here too, red wines dominate, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, plus Cabernet Franc and Malbec. As for the whites, they are made from the traditional Semillon and Sauvignon.
The Sauternes vineyard
The Sauternes vineyard forms an enclave in the Graves region. Its very particular climate is at the origin of the production of exceptional sweet white wines, of which Château d'Yquem is one of the famous representatives. They are the result of a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle grapes. Two appellations are produced in this area:
The Entre-deux-Mers vineyard
It is located between the two rivers that flow into the Gironde estuary: the Dordogne to the north and the Garonne to the south. This vast wine region is the source of several regional and local AOCs:
The dry and sweet white wines of Entre-Deux-Mers are particularly appreciated. The sweet wines of the Cadillac, Loupiac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont appellations also make the region famous. The region is also dominated by "generic" Bordeaux wines, available in all three colours, where great discoveries are not rare.
The Libournais vineyards
Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, Fronsac... the Libourne region also has world-class wine references. This vineyard spreads out on the right bank of the Dordogne and gives pride of place to Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The appellations are numerous and come from both prestigious châteaux and affordable estates.
- Canon Fronsac
- Saint-Emilion grand cru
The vineyards of Blayais and Bourgeais (Haute-Gironde)
On the right bank of the Gironde, opposite the Médoc and up to the borders with the Charente-Maritime, this vineyard spread around the towns of Blaye and Bourg has several appellations:
- Côtes de Blaye
- Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux
- Côtes de Bourg
The Bordeaux classifications
In 1855, on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in Paris, the wines of Bordeaux were ranked in a classification that has remained virtually unchanged since then and is still referred to today. This classification concerns the Médoc and Sauternes crus. Only Château Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan) represents the Graves and is classified as a 1er cru, alongside the Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild (Pauillac), Château Latour (Pauillac), Château Margaux (Margaux) and Château Mouton-Rothschild (Pauillac). Château d'Yquem is classified as a Sauternes 1er crusupérieur.
The other classifications
Because they were not included in the 1855 classification, some players in the Bordeaux wine world have created their own classification:
- Classement des Crus bourgeois du Médoc: created in 1932, it concerns wines from the Médoc and Haut-Médoc
- Classification of Saint-Emilion wines: created in 1955 and revised every 10 years, it classifies the Saint-Emilion wines into 1er grands crus classés A, 1er grands crus classés B and grands crus.
- Classification of Graves wines: created in 1959, it concerns red and white wines exclusively in Pessac-Leognan (except for Château Haut-Brion)