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Wine Wednesday Wisdom: Breaking Down Bordeaux

One of the most influential wine regions in the world is also one of the most famous. Bordeaux, located in south-western France, represents roughly 1.5% of the world’s vineyards, making it an important region in the wine world. It is perhaps just barely second fiddle to France’s (and the world’s) most famous wine region, Champagne.

A fog covered vineyard in Bordeaux, South-Western France.

Bordeaux Châteaux

As early as the 1670s, estates from Bordeaux were receiving critical praise for the wines they were producing. Bordeaux estates, known as châteaux, typically make only one primary wine, as opposed to making many different wines. A handful of properties helped the region rise to fame by collectively commanding some of the highest prices for wine around the world. In some areas of the region, these famous estates have been classified, categorized, and ranked according to the quality, and sometimes cost, of the wine they produce.

The ranking of properties is akin to an early version of modern-day wine criticism and press. During one famous classification of 1855, less than 100 estates were considered, and rank was based on the price of the wines. Once ranked, these estates are recognized by law and, regardless of improvements or changes, it becomes difficult to change its classification. For example, only one property has ever had its ranking changed from the 1855 classification, and that was in 1973!

Thankfully, most of the wine from the region has avoided being codified, resulting in very drinkable and affordable wine.

Wines from Bordeaux

The Bordeaux region is commonly known for dry red wines made from blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Cabernet Franc grapes. In addition to red wines, Bordeaux also produces dry and sweet white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Sparkling wine (known as Crémant de Bordeaux) and dry rosé can also be produced in the region. Most wines from Bordeaux are modest and meant for everyday drinking.

Many Bordeaux-produced wines provide big value and are fantastic to pair with food. If you enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, try a bottle of Bordeaux sometime. If your preference is Sauvignon Blanc, then try a white Bordeaux.

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