Wines: The Essential Guide to the Wines and Wine Growing Regions of France
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Bordeaux Wine Trail
If there is any single region in France
worthy of a visit by the wine-loving traveller, it is surely the
Bordeaux region, where the world's widest range of wines and the
best-known estates are to be found. Moreover, the singularly mild
climate and the closeness of the Atlantic make it a specially
The wine-producing region of Bordeaux is at once
the most extensive in France and the best-known in the world.
It covers 115,000 hectares (110,000 hectares of AOC wine production)
- 150,000 at the end of the XIXth century - around the city of
Bordeaux. It is responsible for 26% of AOC production in France.
It is here that you find some of the most legendary estates in
the world: Petrus, Yquem, Cheval-Blanc, Mouton Rothschild, Château-Margaux,
Haut-Brion... But the region is not just a small number of big
names, far from it: nowadays 13,000 growers are involved in viticulture,
and the average size of a vineyard is 5 hectares.
The Bordeaux region produces an extraordinary variety of wines:
reds, dry or sweet whites, rosés, crémants and more.... red wine
accounts for 75% of total production. Historically the region
has looked carefully to the quality of its wines: the earliest
official classification appeared as early as 1855, and it is still
in force today with a few adjustments to bring it a little more
up to date.
The Wine Faculty in Bordeaux has one of the finest reputations
anywhere, and grape varieties from Bordeaux are used to improve
the quality of vineyards all over the world.
A brief history
Bordeaux wines have long upheld their traditions
of quality, encouraged in part and since the XIIth century by
the interest of the English aristocracy. The quality of the wines,
and the near-total absence of bad vintages are however only a
partial explanation for the inflated prices that have been asked
Favourable climatic conditions, diversity of
soil and terrain, the use of complementary varieties of grape
(cabernet-sauvignon, merlot, cabernet-franc for reds; sémillon
and sauvignon for whites) are among the factors which explain
the wide range of flavours and nuances to be found in Bordeaux
The generic appellation 'Bordeaux' is applied
to all wines produced in the Gironde department, as long as they
satisfy a number of relatively strict conditions relating to grape
varieties and restrictions on yield.
Médoc or Saint-Emilion, Graves or Sauternes:
you decide where you want to go, according to the amount of time
you have and the wines that you hope to unearth...
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