Bordeaux Wine refers to the wine that’s produced in the Bordeaux region of France. The Bordeaux region is the largest French winemaking region and so it’s importance to the world of wine cannot be overestimated. The annual production of this region plays significant part in world’s wine market. The average vintage can produce more than 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine. The range of what is produced in the region is also impressive. You can get ordinary table wines to some of the most expensive bottles in the world from Bordeaux. Almost 90% of all the wines produced in Bordeaux are reds.
History of Bordeaux Wine
Winemaking in the Bordeaux region goes back to the Roman era. It was the Romans who introduced the cultivation of the grape vine in the Bordeaux region as a means for supplying the wine needs of the Roman soldiers and citizens who stayed there. Since then, winemaking in the region has been continuos until now.
The rules on how Bordeaux wines are classified is continuously being revised and changed, but you need not know about all of those in order to enjoy all the wines from the region. But a good knowledge about those regulations can contribute to increasing the pleasure that you derive from your wines.
The wine rules that have been established for the Bordeaux region lays down where vines can be grown and the level of alcohol that can be found on the wines. The maximum level for alcohol content has been set at 14%. Those that cannot abide by those rules are only to be classed as table wines.
Red Wine Grapes of Bordeaux
The Bordeaux wine region is known for its red wine and it is by far its most well-known product. Bordeaux red wines are ideal for pairing with the top beef, lamb, game and other meats of the region. Merlot is the main red grape that is grown in the region. It accounts for more than 60% of all vines planted there. Cabernet Sauvignon comes second followed by Cab Franc. Petit Verdot and Malbec are also grown in the region but these grapes can only be found there in small quantities.
White Wine Grapes of Bordeaux
It was mentioned that the majority of all the wines produced in Bordeaux are reds and in fact only a little over 10% of the wine market there is for white wines. Sauvignon Blanc, the floral Muscadelle, Ugni Blanc and Semillon are the only white grapes that are used for the white wine AOC labeled blends of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux Wine Classifications
The wines produced in the Bordeaux wine region are labeled in a different way. They are not labeled or sold as varietal but by territory. To the winemakers of Bordeaux, where the grapes where grown is far more important than what kind of grapes were used. Wines from the region are labeled as left bank or right bank which refers to the side of the river where the grapes used for the wine are grown. The original classification system for Bordeaux wines was rather complicated. The wines were classified by price and quality from 61 chateaus. That classification system is still used today, but other simpler systems are now in use. The following are the wine classifications used for Bordeaux wine:
- The 1855 Classification
- The Graves Classification
- The Saint-Emilion Classification
- Cru Bourgeois Classification
The 1855 Classification focuses on the 61 chateaus on the left bank of the Bordeaux region. It begins with First Growths, or the “Premier Cru.” The five chateaus that together are known as the “Premier Cru” are regarded as the best of Bordeaux wines. The Graves Classification was created in 1953 and highlights 16 chateaus. The Saint-Emilion Classification was also started in the 1950s and the chateaus are reviewed every decade. Cru Bourgeois Classification focuses on the left bank reds that were not included in 1855 classification.
While it is useful to know wine classification it is not essential in enjoying wines from the Bordeaux region. If you want to become a wine expert it might come in handy to know more about these details.