The Wines of Bordeaux, France, simply the best!!!

Oh yes been around visit plenty, study diplomas and wine travels all over the world, And again, Bordeaux is the star that all search, imitate, copy methods, look after but still trailing. I am a wine aficionado ,and need to update these older posts into one with new text and updated links. For the record, I am certified diploma from ICEX the Commercial office of Spain abroad and SOPEXA, Food and Wines from France; as well as working for a large wines store chain in charge of the ordering and inventory of the store; the  ABC chain in Florida. Later on ,in France worked for a multinational with a wine distribution division with branches in other countries too including USA. I have my own cellar now at different time say average 75 bottles as said before I enjoy drinking them not storing them! Of course, this will be on my black and white series, no pictures.

And why Bordeaux well after tasting wines from the world over and on the most known wine areas of our world, including all of France. I come to the conclusion that the best are from Bordeaux; I am not alone, it’s the world most recognizable quality wines ever. I do not want to get into something technical or winelogy talk but rather a primer to tell you about this wonderful region, which by the way has one of the best beaches in France where my family vacationed many summers (see posts). Bordeaux is it.  UNESCO calls on France as the World Heritage Intangible site on Gastronomy and Wines for a reason. The first way back in 2010 !

The Bordeaux wine world is divided into sections based on quality, historical trends and efforts by the winegrowers to showcase their particular area. These designation tells pretty much the price and quality of the bottles in a general sense. The main thing here is to look for historical performance of the producers/winemakers rather than just the terroir, For the record the classification is as follows:

Crus Artisans  Small artisan producers of the Médoc; Crus Bourgeois  For producers in the Médoc based on quality assessment of regional character ; Crus Classés de Graves  A classification of producers in Graves from 1953 (amended in 1959); Crus Classés de Saint-Émilion  A classification of top quality producers in Saint-Émilion that is revisited now again this year 2022 if all goes well. Crus Classés de 1855  A 5-tier classification of producers in Médoc and Graves (and sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac) from 1855. One producer moved up a tier in 1973 (Mouton-Rothschild).

The Gironde estuary cuts through the center of the region creating two banks: a left bank and a right bank. It is a winery’s location on either bank that determines the proportion of Merlot to Cabernet inside each wine. If the winery is located on the Left Bank, (rive gauche) ,the blend created will have more Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot. If the winery is instead located on the Right Bank of the river (rive droite), the wine will have more Merlot in the blend than Cabernet Sauvignon. Left Bank blends tend to be higher in tannins, alcohol and acidity. They are powerful, rich wines that are said to age a bit better than wines from the Right Bank. This is also the bank that made the region famous. Right bank blends tend to be softer, less tannic and lower in alcohol and acidity. Because Merlot is the dominant grape, they are much more juicy and usually ready to be drunk much earlier than Left Bank Bordeaux, and they’re often less expensive.

Some have it in a more simple designation base on general geography and subzones such as Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur ; Le Médoc ; Blaye & Sauternais ; Le Libournais ; and L’Entre-deux-Mers.

The Entre-Deux-Mers form the AOC wine-growing zone the more extensive of Francer with a size of about  7000 hectares,and a production of about 335 000 hectoliters.  Some of the known areas are the  Côtes de Bordeaux,  Cadillac, Loupiac, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux,and Bordeaux-Haut-Benauge. Most use the appellation name of  Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur.  The Graves region is located south of the Médoc on the left bank of the Gironde river between the city of Bordeaux and Langon in about 60 kms, The main areas are the Graves, Graves Supérieurs (only for sweet or moelleux wines) ,and Pessac-Léognan. At Pessac-Léognan created in 1987, there is the only and one Château Haut-Brion the only one here designated as First Grand Cru in 1855 classification, The Médoc  is located in the left bank of the Gironde river and extends over 60 kms north to south and 10 kms wide, It has several appellations of great renown and my favorite of all such as Haut Médoc, Médoc, Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint Julien, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis-en-médoc ,and Margaux as the main ones, The Right Bank (rive droite) region, on the right bank of the Gironde and Dordogne river north of the Bordeaux area. It encompasses the sub regions of Bourg and Blayes, on the middle of the Libourne with Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac, and Castillon. The area of the Sauternais or Sauternes is located about 50 kms southwest of Bordeaux on the left bank of the Garonne river.  The vineyards of Barsac and Sauternes are in this area. The appellation encompasses five towns such as Sauternes, Fargues, Preignac, Bommes ,and Barsac.  Well noted Barsac has its own appellation and on certain years it can choose it or Sauternes.

The varierities of grapes use are many and are as follows  for the Red : Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carménére. For the whites they are  Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Muscadelle, Merlot blanc, Ugni Blanc, Colombard , and Sauvignon gris.

The red wines come from these designations: Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Margaux, Médoc, Moulis, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Julien, Graves , Pessac-Léognan , Bordeaux Supérieur, Blaye, Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux, Bourg & Côtes de Bourg , Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg , Canon Fronsac, Castillon – Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux Fronsac, Lalande-De-Pomerol, Lussac-Saint-Émilion, Montagne Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Puisseguin Saint-Émilion, Saint-Émilion, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Saint Georges Saint-Émilion, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux, Graves de Vayres , and Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux .

The white wines comes from these designations: Bordeaux , Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux , Bourg & Côtes de Bourg , Côtes de Blaye , Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux , Bordeaux Haut-Benauge,  Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire , Entre-Deux-Mers, Entre-Deux-Mers Haut-Bénauge, Graves de Vayres, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux. As well as the sweet designations that are not my cup of tea but Sauternes, comes to mind.

A brief history of the Classification of 1855 Bordeaux :

In 1855, on orders of emperor Napoléon III on the occasion of the Universal Exposition of Paris that he asked for a classification of the crus of Médoc. 61 properties divided in 5 levels were created; a club one of the world’s closed and private company that has never has been put to doubts, except in 1973 when Mouton-Rothschild moves up from 2nd to Premier cru classé. The classification provides an excellent tool for promotion that rarely if ever is challenge. Even thus, Bordeaux stay a land ready for recherche and advice.  There are many many vineyards that took the example of Bordeaux to improve their quality, including hiring consultants from Bordeaux such as  Michel Rolland, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Hubert de Boüard or Eric Boissenot.  They have gone to the USA, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Greece, Lebanon, even India and China to export the know how of the Bordelais wines.  And of course, many countries in Europe ! Bordeaux, is this incredible machine capable thanks to its  120.000 hectares of vineyards propose the whole of the wine markets a quality wine in all the brands levels and price. As long as the actors of the Bordeaux wine scene keep producing crus capable of attract consumers to it, Bordeaux will remain the reference in the World.

A while back, the Le Figaro newspaper, starting from a large data base, the journalists could determine designation by designation (appellations) which are the chateaux the most attractive, and most desire of the public. Le Figaro brought along all experts in internet communication including winemakers and other professionals.  They came up with these 3 points;

  1. Bordeaux is very well into the digital revolution.
  2. The image of the vineyard and properties on the web is conforming to what the professionals had in the middle of the 19C.
  3. The young generation of property owners mix well with centuries of tradition and an excellent e-reputation.

The Bordelais  is the most hierarchical vineyard in the world; the dynamic of its price, the critics notes, and the judgment of the professionals help to build solidify or weaken their status. The external problems and emerging values could allows us to understand what can happen even in Bordeaux; the price is only and indicator of the status of the property but with only a commercial look. We have gone from an horizontal dialogue (between consumers) to a culture of participation where the public is the co creator of content and choice. The reputation can be issue from the place of production made more accessable, welcoming, open, hospible and beautiful and not just by architectural spectacles. Bordeaux in the last years has had its revolution bringing to the market a huge quantiy of affordable wines , many times under 10€.  However, there still a job to do in selling the brands of a  Côtes de Castillon,  Côtes de Bourg, or Bordeaux supérieurs; a new model is needed on distribution and marketing.

The library or god of wine book, mostly for the pros, but I do have a copy is Marc-Henry Lemay, Bordeaux et ses vins Editions Ferret 1995, 15th edition! purchase in 1999 for 150 USDollars. It has a prologue by Montesquieu. This book tells you all the wine houses in Bordeaux since their foundation ! History of grapes, wines making methods you name it is here, The book was purchase at Pierre Books, Aventura, Fl USA who were Francophone Belgians friends Pierre and Vivienne ; unfortunately it has been years the store has closed and we lost contact with them.

The official wines of Bordeaux : https://www.bordeaux.com/us/

The old Union des Maisons de Bordeaux ,today Bordeaux Négoce, have 300+  négociants members that distribute 2/3 of the wines of Bordeaux so, therefore  80%  of the territory shipping to 170 countries of our world . This is their pro webpage : https://www.bordeaux-negoce.com/en/bordeaux-negoce/key-figures/

The Bordeaux tourist office on the wine regions: https://www.bordeaux-tourism.co.uk/bordeaux-vineyards-and-wines/6-wine-regions-bordeaux?_wrapper_format=html

The 1855 Classification of Bordeaux : https://gcc-1855.fr/en/

There you go folks, a wonderful world to be in and taste! We love it!! And over the years we have come to love it more as we keep comparing with the world. Hope you enjoy it and do come by Bordeaux to enjoy best the wines of France!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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