where the magic happens
A Bordeaux wine is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France, centred on the city of Bordeaux and covering the whole area of the Gironde department, with a total vineyard area of over 120,000 hectares,[making it the largest wine growing area in France. Average vintages produce over 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine, ranging from large quantities of everyday table wine, to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world. 89% of wine produced in Bordeaux is red (called "claret" in Britain), with sweet white wines (most notably Sauternes), dry whites, and also (in much smaller quantities) rosé and sparkling wines (Crémant de Bordeaux) collectively making up the remainder. Bordeaux wine is made by more than 8,500 producers or châteaux. There are 54 appellations of Bordeaux wine.
The major reason for the success of winemaking in the Bordeaux region is the excellent environment for growing vines. The geological foundation of the region is limestone, leading to a soil structure that is heavy in calcium.
The Garonne and Dordogne rivers define the main geographical subdivisions of the region:
· "The right bank", situated on the right bank of Dordogne, in the northern parts of the region, around the city of Libourne.
· Entre-deux-mers, French for "between two seas", the area between the rivers Dordogne and Garonne, in the centre of the region.
· "The left bank", situated on the left bank of Garonne, in the west and south of the region, around the city of Bordeaux itself. The left bank is further subdivided into:
o Graves, the area upstream of the city Bordeaux.
o Médoc, the area downstream of the city Bordeaux, situated on a peninsula between Gironde and the Atlantic.
Red Bordeaux is generally made from a blend of grapes. Permitted grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. Today Malbec and Carménère are rarely used, with Château Clerc Milon, a fifth growth Bordeaux, being one of the few to still retain Carménère vines.
As a very broad generalization, Cabernet Sauvignon (Bordeaux's second-most planted grape variety) dominates the blend in red wines produced in the Médoc and the rest of the left bank of the Gironde estuary. Typical top-quality Chateaux blends are 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc & 15% Merlot. This is typically referred to as the "Bordeaux Blend." Merlot tends to predominate inSaint-Émilion, Pomerol and the other right bank appellations. These Right Bank blends from top-quality Chateaux are typically 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc & 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
White Bordeaux is predominantly, and exclusively in the case of the sweet Sauternes, made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc andMuscadelle - Typical blends are usually 80% Sémillon, 20% Sauvignon blanc. As with the reds, white Bordeaux wines are usually blends, most commonly of Sémillon and a smaller proportion of Sauvignon blanc. Other permitted grape varieties are Sauvignon gris,Ugni blanc, Colombard, Merlot blanc, Ondenc and Mauzac.
The Rhône valley vineyard has a great diversity of wines. Elegant whites and powerful red wines are more the specificity of the Septentrional Côte du Rhône vineyard, while in the Meridional one, whites are delicate; Reds are spicy and strong in alcohol.
These differences are coming from the soil but also from the grape varieties used to make wine.
21 grape varieties (22 in reality and you will see why further down!) are allowed in the Rhône valley (13 for red wine and 8 for the whites) but in reality, only 10 are really used.
In the north, reds are mainly made with Syrah. In the south they like more Grenache grape variety that they blend with Syrah and/or Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan, Counoise...
Whites from the north are mainly made with Viognier while in the south they prefer Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Picpoul, Ugni blanc...
In that Rhône valley wine production, we shouldn't forget to mention the famous sparkling wine called Clairette de Die and the Muscat de Beaume de Venise, a sweet wine exclusively produced with Muscat a petit grain, the 22nd grape variety, not authorized in any other white Rhône valley wines!
We have 3 groups of wines: Côte du Rhône, Côte du Rhône Village and Crus from Côte du Rhône.
Côte du Rhône is the biggest in term of production. This appellation can be produced everywhere on 6 departments (Ardèche, Drôme, Loire, Gard , Rhône and Vaucluse) along the 200 km that are between Vienne and Avignon.
Côte du Rhône village is made only with some specific vineyards on only four departments (Ardèche, Drôme, Gard and Vaucluse).
Crus wines are 13 in total. They are all very specific and have the name of the village where they are produced.
They are from North to South: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Château-Grillet, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas, Saint-Peray, Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Lirac, Tavel and Vacqueras.
Ideally located on the slope of the Côte hill, facing East, the Burgundy vineyard is one of the oldest of France.
For 1600 years, Roman people, Monks from the middle age have made this vineyard.
During all that time, Burgundy wines identity was created thanks to a grape variety selection and a classification.
Only four grape varieties are allowed in Burgundy to produce AOC wines.
Two for the reds: Pinot Noir mainly and Gamay for the Beaujolais wine producing area.
Two for the whites: Chardonnay mainly and Aligoté.
Burgundy wine classification looks hard to understand but in fact it is easy!
Just remember that everything depends on the position of the vineyard on the hills.
Roughly, the higher it is, the better wine it will give.
Then from the top to the bottom of the hill, you have Grand cru, 1° Cru, Village and Burgundy appellations.
Burgundy vineyard is in fact 6 vineyards named from North to south:
Côte de Nuits vineyard
Côte de Beaune vineyard
Côte Chalonnaise vineyard
Côte Maconnaise vineyard
Chablis is known for the white wines made from Chardonnay, with a nice minerality.
Côte de Nuits is where you have the most Grand cru red wines made with Pinot noir (some nice whites too)
Côte de Beaune is where you have whites Grand Cru wine (but don't forget reds such as Pommard and Volnay as well as the only red Grand Cru of the Côte de Beaune: Corton)
Côte Chalonnaise is giving both nice reds and whites, but no Grand cru.
Côte Maconnaise is where Pouilly Fuissé, Viré cléssé, Saint Veran and Macon white wines are made. Some nice reds as well made fron Pinot Noir or Gamay.
Beaujolais is the Gamay country! The terroire there is ideal for that grape variety. There is a specific classification too: Beaujolais wines, Beaujolais Village wines and Crus wines (Fleurie,Morgon, Saint Amour...).
France, South West
In the wake of Libourne, Bergerac wines are the closest cousin of Bordeaux. Situated a few dozen kilometers from Saint Emilion, they share the same valley, the same grape varieties ... Indeed, it is difficult during bling testing to distinguish a Bergerac from a Bordeaux. Well vinified, the Whites give expressions of Sauvignon and Semillon far better than the average Bordeaux.
In Aquitaine, situated on both sides of the Dordogne river, the Bergerac vineyard covers 13.000 hectares on 93 villages.
Amongst the 13 appellations, the most famous are AOC Bergerac (red, dry white and rosé wine), Côtes de Bergerac (red and semi sweet white wine), Pécharmant (red wine), Rosette (semi sweet white wine), Monbazillac (sweet white wine), Saussignac (sweet white wine) and Montravel (red, dry white semi sweet white wine).
The blend and the choice of the vine constitue the Bergerac wine's prestige and bouquet.
Cabernet Sauvignon, cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec for the reds and Sauvignon, Sémillon, Muscadelle for the whites, give the right balance which determined the Bergerac's wine characteristics and flavour.
The Loire Valley wine region includes the French wine regions situated along the Loire River from the Muscadet region near the city of Nantes on the Atlantic coast to the region of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé just southeast of the city of Orléans in north central France. In between are the regions of Anjou, Saumur, Bourgueil, Chinon and Vouvray. The Loire Valley itself follows the river through the Loire province to the river's origins in the Cévennes but the majority of the wine production takes place in the regions noted above. The area includes 87 appelations under the AOC , Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) and Vin de pays systems. While the majority of production is white wine from the Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon blanc and Melon de bourgogne grapes, there are red wines made (especially around the Chinon region) from Cabernet Franc. In addition to still wines, rosé, sparkling are also produced. With Crémant production throughout the Loire, it is the second largest sparkling wine producer in France after Champagne. Among these different wine styles, Loire wines tend to exhibit characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavors-especially in their youth.