Bordeaux Superieurs are a good tip for wine hunters searching for wines a notch above the norm. Although production is limited these wines pack more punches than regular Bordeaux and tend to be deeper flavoured, rounder and more complex . . .
Their name gives it away: Bordeaux Superieurs are simply ‘Superior Bordeaux’ – wine made to strict rules that define its quality. They offer super value for money and are a wonderful source of affordable Bordeaux that ticks all the right boxes.
What is a Bordeaux Superieur?
Bordeaux Superieur is a regional appellation (AOC). This means that they are governed by demanding regulations and that in order to qualify as a Bordeaux Superieur the wine must meet exacting criteria. Samples are judged by an inspection board and, subject to meeting the standards, wines that meet the mark are granted the label Bordeaux Superieur.
Bordeaux Superieurs have a particular style that the inspection board look for; Reds must be characterised by their harmony, elegance, rich aromas and good balance, and be able to age well. Whites must be distinguished by their zesty freshness, fruity and floral aromas and smoothness. High quality is paramount and as you can imagine the selection process is rigorous. The end result are super wines with a great reputation; their merits stand out above the crowd.
Bordeaux Superieur Key Facts
1. Only 2 French AOCs have a ‘Superieur’ classification: Bordeaux and Beaujolais. Bordeaux Superieurs can be both Red or dry White wines:
Red – Bordeaux Superieur Rouge
Dry White – Bordeaux Superieur Blanc
Semi Sweet – Bordeaux Superieur Blanc Moelleux
Sweet – Graves Superieur
2. Bordeaux Superieurs can be produced across the length of Bordeaux but only about a quarter of the Bordeaux vineyard area actually makes them.
3. Like regular Bordeaux, Bordeaux Superieurs are blends and are made from combinations of the same grapes. Permitted grapes are:
Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (also Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere which are used to a lesser extent).
Whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris (also Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Merlot Blanc, Ondenc and Mauzac which are very rarely used).
4. Bordeaux Superieurs are usually made from older vines in specially selected single plots planted at a greater density than regular Bordeaux:
Superieurs must be from plots planted with at least 4500 vines per hectare. This means the vines are stronger and healthier with deep root systems.
The maximum yield of grapes at harvest must be 10% lower than that of regular Bordeaux (less than 50 hl/ha). With less grapes to nurture on each vine the plant can pump more nutrients into its bunches creating richer, better grapes.
The grapes must be riper than grapes for regular Bordeaux too. Riper grapes result in a higher sugar levels which convert into higher alcohol levels and Bordeaux Superieur is 0.5% higher in abv than your usual Bordeaux. The maximum is 13.5% abv for Reds and 15% for Whites.
5. The wines are usually aged in oak 3 – 4 years and regulations state that they must be aged for at least 12 months.
6. Bordeaux Superieur is estate bottled ie, it is bottled at the chateau where it was produced. This is not a requirement for regular Bordeaux.
Therefore you get more for your money with a Superieur than you do from a basic Bordeaux . . . why not taste the difference?