The Blending, a Bordeaux thing
The most famous and highly coveted wine blend from the most popular wine region in the world.
Simply put, Bordeaux wine is wine produced in the region of Bordeaux (bore-doe) in France. One of the most important things to understand about Bordeaux wines is that they are a blend of grape varieties for most of them.
Bordeaux red wines are a blend of classically French grape varieties, which include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Carménère was once added to the mix, but it’s rarely used these days. While all of these grapes go into a bottle of Bordeaux blend, the majority is made up of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The red Bordeaux blend is medium to full-bodied, with high tannins.
Bordeaux red is far more common than white Bordeaux, but the dry white wines are still considered premium wines.
White Bordeaux is usually a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle grapes. The resulting wine is dry and usually oak aged for a buttery, savoury quality.
History of Bordeaux
The history of the Bordeaux wine region dates back to the ancient Romans who were the first people to cultivate, plant vineyards and produce Bordeaux wine.
The wine had prestigious clientele, including Thomas Jefferson, during an era when sweet white wines were more popular than dry red wines. In addition to that, there was also a type of rosé popular in the 1700s, particularly with the English, who called it “claret” due to the wines translucent red colour. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that Bordeaux red wines became more well-known from the region.
Major Bordeaux regions
The success of Bordeaux can be boiled down to one simple trait: its location. The region’s climate and soil are ideal for high quality viticulture. Meanwhile, its close proximity to a major port city has, for centuries, allowed local winemakers easy access to export markets around the world.
In the early days of international wine trade, Bordeaux capitalised on the ships and wealthy merchants that filled its port, making sure to send them off with wine. As wealthy merchants returned to their home countries, the region’s acclaim spread. Soon, trading classes in Great Britain and the Netherlands began collecting Bordeaux wines, cementing its reputation as one of the fine wines of the upper classes.
When it comes to quality wine regions, Bordeaux is such a dense area that there are 57 subregions altogether. Throw a stick somewhere in Bordeaux and you’re bound to hit a winemaker.
The Bordeaux region is located on the west coast of central France. The Bay of Biscay leads into the Gironde estuary, which cuts through the centre of Bordeaux creating two important winemaking regions: the left bank and the right bank. These regions form the backbone of Bordeaux’s identity.
The Left Bank
This area is known for its gravelly soils and graphite-driven red wines with a dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend.
The Left Bank is home to Medoc, which produces much of Bordeaux’s red wine and has many vineyards.
The most prestigious sub-regions in the Médoc include Pauillac, Saint Estephe, Margaux and Pessac-Leognan.
The wines from Médoc are some of the boldest and most tannic of Bordeaux, perfect for ageing or matching with red meat.
The Right Bank
This area in Bordeaux is known for its red clay soils that produce bold plummy red wines with a dominance of Merlot. The wines from this region are moderately bold, but generally have softer, more refined tannins. For this reason, right bank wines are a great way to get introduced to the region.
Key right bank regions include Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
A tiny part of Bordeaux’s wine production is dedicated to white wines. These wines are made with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon and range from zippy and fresh to creamy and lemon curd-like.
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