Bordeaux 101

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September is Bordeaux Wine month. But what is it about this region that is so special?

When you speak to most people, whether they are wine experts, or mere casual wine drinkers, everyone will have heard of Bordeaux.  But what exactly is Bordeaux? What makes it famous? This month, we will try to help you understand it a little better and we can all learn a bit about this very special wine region.

Château Tronquoy Lalande 2014 St EstepheMany people find the wines from Bordeaux intimidating and think of them as expensive, and too complicated, but this month we will attempt to make the wines easier to understand and show you that firstly, it doesn't have to be expensive, and secondly, why it really is such a magical place to make wine.

Firstly, Bordeaux is the name of the region that surrounds the French city of the same name, in the South West of France.  However, Bordeaux is not just another wine region, it is made up of 65 separate Appellations with a total vineyard area of over 120,000 hectares.  The whole of the region known as the Gironde is dedicated to the growing of grapes and the craft of winemaking.  The traditions go back many centuries, and some of the most famous and expensive wines in the world are produced there.

The region is split in to two by the mighty Gironde river estuary that that splits into to the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers. These two sub-regions are commonly known as Left Bank & Right Bank.

Chateau Latour Martillac 2014 GravesWines from these two regions not only depict the geographical locations of the vineyards and wine producers, but also give you an idea of the style of the wine you can expect.  This is mainly down to the principal grapes that are used, and the soils they grow on.

On the Left Bank, in sub-regions such as Saint-Estephe, Pauillac & Margaux, Cabernet Sauvignon is the principal grape used as it thrives on the Gravelly soils of the Medoc.  This makes big, robust wines that will seem tough and tannic if drunk to young, but this characteristic makes these wines perfect for aging, and over time in bottle they will evolve into truly great wines.

The Right Bank, with its clay soils in villages such as St-Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac, Merlot is more dominant, this gives the wines from here a softer, more fruity and approachable character and can be drunk younger, a good example in Chateau Haut-Bernin.  White wines are also made here, using Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Try Chateau La Gravelle.

But, winemakers from both regions will use a number of other grape varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec to add different characteristics to their wines, and this largely depends on the weather and conditions each year.

The good winemaker will always make good wine even in a poor vintage, by using a selection of grapes like a painter uses a palette of colours, blending to gain the perfect flavours and character.

La Rose de Labegorce Margaux 2014Bordeaux is made up of many prestigious Chateaux, like Lafite, Latour, Rothschild etc that can command top prices even before their wine has even been made. But, such is the tradition and passion for winemaking here, there are so many unbelievable wines at approachable prices for everyone to discover. We have wines from Bordeaux that start at under £11 a bottle and are ready to drink now like Moulin de Mallet, some are great as a present or for a special occasion, and some for laying down to savour in years to come such as La Rose de Labergorce.

We will discuss the wonders of the region in the weeks to come, but for now, why not pop in and try the wines on for taste this week for an introduction to Bordeaux.

 

To really learn more about this fantastic region then get booked in for our Discover Bordeaux Tasting evening on Thursday 19th Sept 2019 here at Hattersley Wines. Call 01629 815255 for tickets.

 

Last Updated: 03/09/2019
Author: Sean Driscoll

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