~ Bordeaux, France ~

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.

HISTORY

The vine was introduced to the Bordeaux region by the Romans, probably in the mid-1st century, to provide wine for local consumption, and wine production has been continuous in the region since then.

In the 12th century, the popularity of Bordeaux wines in England increased dramatically following the marriage of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine.The marriage made the province of Aquitaine English territory, and thenceforth the majority of Bordeaux was exported.At this time, Graves was the principal wine region of Bordeaux, and the principal style was clairet. This accounts for the ubiquity of claret in England. The export of Bordeaux was interrupted by the outbreak of The Hundred Years' War between France and England in 1337.By the end of the conflict in 1453 France had repossessed the province, thus taking control of wine production in the region.

In the seventeenth century, Dutch traders drained the swampy ground of the Médoc in order that it could be planted with vines, and this gradually surpassed Graves as the most prestigious region of Bordeaux. Malbec was dominant grape here, until the early 19th century, when it was replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon;

In 1855, the châteaux of Bordeaux were classified; this classification remains widely used today.

From 1875-1892 almost all Bordeaux vineyards were ruined by Phylloxera infestations.The region's wine industry was rescued by grafting native vines on to pest-resistant American rootstock and all Bordeaux vines that survive to this day are a product of this action.This is not to say that all contemporary Bordeaux wines are truly American wines, as rootstock does not affect the production of grapes.

CLIMATE AND GEOGRAPHY

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 Gironde estuary dominates the regions along with its tributaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers, and together irrigate the land and provide an Atlantic Climate, also known as an oceanic climate, for the region.

These 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:Graves, the area upstream of the city Bordeaux.
-Médoc, the area downstream of the city Bordeaux, situated on a peninsula between Gironde and the Atlantic.

In Bordeaux the concept of terroir plays a pivotal role in wine production with the top estates aiming to make terroir driven wines that reflect the place they are from, often from grapes collected from a single vineyard.The soil of Bordeaux is composed of gravel, sandy stone, and clay. The region's best vineyards are located on the well-drained gravel soils that are frequently found near the Gironde river. An old adage in Bordeaux is the best estates can "see the river" from their vineyard and majority of land that face riverside are occupied by classified estates.