Operating in Southwest France, as All French Services does, places us in very close proximity to
the Bordeaux region. If you are planning to visit, vacation in, or move to Southwest France,
you may well find the following information both interesting and informative.
Bordeaux is deemed the most prestigious wine growing region in the world and is considered
the birthplace of the wine culture, as we know it today. While steeped in tradition,
Bordeaux has continually updated vineyard and winemaking practices in order to improve quality.
The importance of Bordeaux in the world of wine should not be underestimated. Bordeaux is
currently the leading producer of high quality red wines in the world and has been for the
last 200 years. While wineries in other areas produce great wines, at times equal to the great
wines of Bordeaux, no other area in the world has nearly as many high quality wineries producing
incredible amounts of high quality wines.
The advantages of the Bordeaux region for producing fine wine can be listed quite easily.
The first advantage is ideal climate and soil conditions. Positioned by the sea and threaded
with rivers, it has a stable and moderate climate. Forests on the ocean side protect it from
strong salt winds and excessive rainfall. The bedrock is well furnished with nutrients and
minerals, yet the topsoil is very poor. This causes the roots to search deep, stabilizing
the vines to withstand the fluctuations of the weather. The second advantage is grape growing
experience. Grapes have been produced at high quality levels for over 200 years.
Like Burgundy, this extensive knowledge concerning each piece of land results in higher
quality due to the correct matching of the grape varietal to the soil and micro-climate.
In addition, the years of experience has greatly improved the vineyard management techniques.
The third advantage is winemaking expertise. Bordeaux has some of the best winemaking
technique in the world, which has been the result of numerous wineries producing a high
volume of extremely high quality wines over many years.
Over the past 20 years, Bordeaux, along with other progressive wine producing areas,
modified their winemaking and vineyard management in order to produce wines that are both
enjoyable upon release and capable of improving with age. Today, Bordeaux produces Merlot
and Cabernet that offer the best price-value relationship of any such wines in the world.
The variety of soils, climate, grapes, and drainage throughout Bordeaux produce many styles of wines.
They range from fresh and easy drinking Merlot-based wines to highly concentrated, highly tannic,
Cabernet based wines and all the multitude of styles in between. Three major red grape varieties
have prevailed in this prestigious region: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
Petit Verdot and Malbec are also permitted and are used in small percentages.
The Gironde River and its tributaries, the Dordogne and Garonne, divide the Bordeaux region
creating two distinct wine production zones - the Left Bank and the Right Bank.
These two banks differ mainly in soil composition. On the Right Bank, clay, limestone and
sand prevail, all of which are more suited to Merlot.
On the Left Bank, gravel predominates, allowing Cabernet Sauvignon to thrive.
The Left Bank generally produces big and tannic Cabernet-based wines with pronounced
blackcurrant and cassis flavors. There are five major districts on the Left Bank.
Listed from the most northerly, they are Saint-Estephe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux and
Graves, which includes Pessac-Leognan. Located within these esteemed communes are the five
First Growth Chateaux: Chateau Latour, Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild,
Chateau Margaux and Chateau Haut-Brion.
Also worth mentioning are the white wines produced on the Left Bank, the most prestigious of
which hail from the region of Sauternes. Semillon dominates this region and only sweet
unfortified dessert wines are made here, including the renowned Chateau d'Yquem. Sauvignon
Blanc is also planted, primarily in Graves and produces crisp, dry, refreshing whites
primarily consisting of citrus fruit flavors. The best Sauvignon Blanc in all of Bordeaux
is produced in Pessac-Leognan.
The Merlot-based wines of the Right Bank are generally more fruit forward and have less
tannin than those of the Left Bank. The Right Bank consists of two major regions:
Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. Saint-Emilion contains over 900 individual producers. A blend of
Merlot and Cabernet Franc produces wines that are less tannic, softer, and more forward than
those of the Left Bank. There are four satellites of Saint-Emilion: Saint-Georges, Montagne,
Lussac and Puisseguin. The wines produced here are identical in style and quality to those of
Saint-Emilion and are sought out by wine consumers looking for excellent values.
Located to the west of Saint-Emilion is the prestigious region of Pomerol. Pomerol is much
smaller in size and is best known for producing some of the richest and most decadent wines
in all of Bordeaux. With such properties as Chateau Petrus and Chateau Le Pin, the wines
produced here are among the most expensive and sought after in the world. Over 75% of the
region is planted to Merlot, a grape varietal which thrives in the clay soil. Pomerol produces
only red wines widely acknowledged for their elegance, richness and exotic aromas.
Lalande-de-Pomerol is a commune attached to Pomerol on the northern bank of the Barbanne Stream.
The wines here are produced in the same style as Pomerol, but usually require less aging and
represent amazing value.
Red - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec
White - Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
Left Bank - Saint-Estephe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux, 'pessac-Leognan, Graves, Sauternes,
Right Bank - Saint-Emilion, Montagne Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Fronsac,
319,000 acres, 2% of the world's vineyards, but representing 10% of the dollar
value of all wine exports in the world. It is over twice the acres of all the vineyards in
Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties combined.
55,000,000 cases produced every year, of which 20 million cases are exported
Number of Growers:
Wine information provided by Total Wine
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