Bordeaux Vineyard – Bordelais

Bordeaux Vineyard or Bordelais is one of the 13 French wine-making regions and one of the 16 great vineyards.

The 120,000ha Bordeaux vineyard is the world largest wine producing region.

Fronsac on the Bordeaux vineyards map
Fronsac on the Bordeaux vineyards map

The area has always been propitious to vine-growing.

The vast Bordeaux Vineyard indeed stretches between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gironde Estuary.

The two water masses therefore act as a thermal screen and generates a micro-climate propitious to the vine culture.

Sunny and well ventilated, the region is also mostly exempt from late spring frosts and cryptogamic disease.

The short and mild winters, long and sunny autumns and a high level of moisture coming from the ocean, indeed create ideal atmospheric conditions.

The disparity in soils contributes also to the making of an impressive range of wines that seduce by their personality.

The vast sea that covered the Bordelais during the Tertiary Period left a wide array of soils.

The slopes around Bourg and Blaye on the north bank of the Gironde consist of limestone.

The lower south bank’s limestone was initially eroded then covered with gravels.

In other places, tides washed down deposits and created a series of marshes (clay) which became isolated from the running waters by an alluvial belt known as palus.

Viticulture introduced by the Romans

The Romans introduced viticulture some 2000 years ago.

Saint-Emilion vineyard - Bordeaux wines
Saint-Emilion vineyard

They indeed planted the Albanese vine Biturica, from which all French grape varieties today derive.

The poet Ausonius already celebrated Bordeaux wines in the 4th century AD.

“Ô ma patrie, illustre par tes vins, tes fleuves et tes hommes…”

“To my country, famous for its wines, its rivers and its people…”

These wines have since gained worldwide reputation.

The variety of their place of production, therefore the disparity of soil and climate, the use of different grapes varieties, the conditions of growth and the pruning and wine-making techniques indeed produce a wide range of bouquets, colours, fragrances and qualities.

Bordeaux Vineyard – 6 wine-making areas

The Bordeaux Vineyard spreads in the department of Gironde.

It consists of 6 distinct wine-making areas or vineyards:

Bordeaux Vineyards – Basic facts

1- The Bordeaux Vineyard includes 8650 châteaux.

You’ll recognize the iconic Ausone, Cheval Blanc, Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Petrus, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Yquem to name a few!

2- Bordeaux reds and rosés represent 89% of production.

They are a blend of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cabernet-Franc and predominantly Merlot; they have a fantastic ability to improve with age.

3- Bordeaux whites are made with Sauvignon, Sémillon and Muscadelle.

Dry and sweet whites represent 11% of production, while sweet whites production is limited at 2%.

4- The Bordeaux Vineyard has a total of 57 AOC-AOP and was granted its first Appellation d’Origine Controllée in 1935.

The earliest official classification, which dates from 1855, is still in force and has had only few adjustments.

Bordeaux wines represent 25% of the French total AOC -AOP production.

5- Wine-growers plant rose bushes along their vineyards because the flowers are prone to cryptogamic diseases.

If the rose bush develops the disease, the wine-growers treat their vines immediately in order to avoid destruction.

6- The AOC Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur define all wines produced throughout the Gironde département (which mainly covers the Bordelais region) regardless of the AOC.

Bordeaux Supérieur has higher alcohol content than the Bordeaux, but represents a yield 10% inferior.

7- Still Bordeaux wines can be dry or sweet whites, red (the famous Clairet so much loved by the English) or rosé.

8- Sparkling Bordeaux wines are white or rosé.

9- The AOC Crémant de Bordeaux is produced all over the Gironde department.

10- Finally, Fine Bordeaux, a type of Brandy, comes from the Cognac Region.

Photos via Wikimedia Commons: Ausonius  – Roman amphoreas – Please remember to drink responsibly  L’abus d’alcool est dangereux pour la santé, à consommer avec modération

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