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Bordeaux’s Super Superieurs

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 . . .

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An extremely good Bordeaux Superieur, Chateau Bellevue Favereau is superb value for money. Produced by the Galineau family in Pellegrue – an ancient Bastide which takes its name from the Cranes that gather there on their migration.

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.

Chateau Peynaud Bordeaux Superieur 2010 £7.99 - Chateau Peynaud is an outstanding Bordeaux Superieur and is starting to be recognised as one of the most reliable wines in the Bordeaux Superieur appellation, being greatly in demand because of its price/quality ratio.
Chateau Peynaud Bordeaux Superieur 2010 £7.99 – an outstanding Bordeaux Superieur and is starting to be recognised as one of the most reliable wines in the Bordeaux Superieur AOC, being greatly in demand because of its price/quality ratio.

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

'Y' from Sauternes Premier Cru Chateau d'Yquem is a dry White Bordeaux Superieur
‘Y’ from Sauternes Premier Cru Chateau d’Yquem is a dry White Bordeaux 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.

  • Chateau Vrai Caillou Bordeaux Superieur 2012 £9.99 - Vrai Caillou is an old estate that has been producing charismatic and polished wines for over a century. Since 1863, Chateau Vrai Caillou has been owned by the Pommier family and its wines were noted in the famed Bordeaux wine directory Cocks & Féret. The estate is a little treasure chest, producing excellent Petit Chateaux claret from its fantastic terroir. Vrai Caillou lies in Soussac atop the slopes of the Butte de Launay, one of the highest points in the region.
    Chateau Vrai Caillou Bordeaux Superieur 2012 £9.99 – an old estate in Soussac, owned by the Pommier family, that produces charismatic and polished Bordeaux Superieur.

    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.

Regularly award winning, Chateau Roc de Levraut, is made by Remi and Roger Ballarin, on terroir originally owned by the 12th Century Benedictine Abbey de la Sauve Maujeure. Roc de Levraut translates as the ‘Chateau of the Hare’s Rock’ and sits in the lieu dit of Levraut. The area is sparsely populated and hamlets sit in a sea of vines. The buildings date back to the 17th century but Romans grew vines here before the monks and remnants of their villas can be seen as parch marks in the fields. The Ballarins are the third generation of wine makers at this little estate and their grandfather used oxen to clear the soil of its characteristic boulders. Today the Ballarins use sustainable agriculture alongside modern oenology, respecting both the land and the grapes. Their Bordeaux Superieur has attracted the attention of renowned wine critics, Jancis Robinson MW, Natalie McClean and we are proud to have introduced it to the UK.
Chateau Roc de Levraut, Bordeaux Superieur 2011, Bronze Medal £9.49 – Produced by the Ballarins, whose wines have attracted the attention of renowned wine critics, Jancis Robinson and Natalie McClean. We are proud to have introduced it to the UK.

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?

 

Enjoy!

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