Bordeaux - the AOCs
Bordeaux - The AOCs
Bordeaux red wine has been enjoyed in the UK for centuries, initially as the Bordeaux Clairets that Eleanor of Aquitaine brought here as a dowry upon her marriage to Henry Plantagenet of England in the 13th century. (This is where our word for claret originates from.) Later as wine making techniques improved Bordeaux's wines became richer and more red, evolving into the Bordeaux red wines that we love today.
Incidentally Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was the wife of two kings, King Louis VII of France and King Henry II of England, and the mother of two kings, Richard the Lion Heart and John who is remembered in history for having been forced to sign the Magna Carta. Eleanor, who excelled in horsemanship and archery, was probably the first truly political woman, interested in both politics and the military – and of course had excellent taste in wine!
Bordeaux is a vast area and, like Heinz, Bordeaux has 57 appellations (or wine regions). You have probably heard about or seen wines from appellations that are specific regions such as the Médoc, Margaux, Saint Emilion and the Côtes de Castillon but the appellations Bordeaux AOC and the Bordeaux Supérieur AOC are those that are more generic.
AOC stands for Appellation Origine Controlée and this means that these wines originate from a specific region or area, that meets strict production norms and is officially recognized only after tasting and analysis. The Bordeaux AOC is a guarantee of typicity and quality for the consumer. They represent perfect examples of the Bordeaux style and account for half of the planted surfaces in Bordeaux. All of the winemaking districts in the Gironde "département” (administrative area) can produce these AOC wines. They are designed to be consumed young.
Bordeaux Supérieur AOC covers the same geographic area as Bordeaux AOC but the wine is produced by older vines. The grapes are picked on selected plots of older vines. Bordeaux Supérieur wines are sometimes also aged in oak barrels to increase their power and aromatic complexity. Moreover, Bordeaux Supérieur wines must be aged at least for 12 months before they can be sold.
You can find some good bargains amongst these AOC appellations but most of the wines are available as commercial brands.
The Bordeaux region of France is the second largest wine-growing area in the world, only the Languedoc wine region is larger. Bordeaux lies halfway between the North pole and the Equator and its geological foundation of the region is limestone, leading to a soil structure that is heavy in calcium. The Gironde Estuary dominates the regions along with its tributaries, the River Garonne and the River Dordogne which irrigate the land and provide with an oceanic climate.
The rivers define the main geographical subdivisions of the region: the Right Bank, situated on the right bank of Dordogne, in the northern parts of the region, around the city of Libourne and the Left Bank situated on the left bank of Garonne, in the west and south of the region, around the city of Bordeaux itself. The Left Bank is subdivided into the regions of Graves, upstream of the city of Bordeaux and the Médoc, downstream of Bordeaux on a peninsula between the Gironde and the Atlantic. Between the two rivers lies the Entre Deux Mers (Between Two Waters). An old saying in Bordeaux is that the best estates can "see the river" from their vineyard.
In Bordeaux terroir takes precedence over grape varieties – terroir is the concept that the wine embodies the unique aspects of a place that influence its being. Terroir is therefore a combination of the soil the vines are grown in, the geography of the place and the micro climate that nourishes the vines. Therefore the vast vineyard that is Bordeaux creates very different and distinct wines due myriad combinations of terroir which is why appellations are so important as they are the flagships for the wines they represent.
Barsac – Sweet White Wine
Blaye – Dry White Wine
Blaye – Red Wine
Bordeaux and Bordeaux Sec – Dry White Wine
Bordeaux – Red Wine
Bordeaux Clairet – Clairet
Bordeaux Haut Benauge – Sweet White Wine
Bordeaux Rosé – Rosé
Bordeaux Supérieur – Red Wine
Bordeaux Supérieur – Sweet White Wine
Cadillac – Sweet White Wine
Canon Fronsac – Red Wine
Cérons – Sweet White Wine
Côtes de Bordeaux Saint Macaire – Sweet White Wine
Côtes de Francs – Dry White Wine
Côtes de Francs – Red Wine
Côtes de Bourg – Dry White Wine
Côtes de Bourg – Red Wine
Côtes de Castillon – Red Wine
Crémant de Bordeaux – Sparkling White Wine
Entre deux Mers – Dry White Wine
Entre Deux Mers Haut Benauge – Dry White Wine
Fronsac – Red Wine
Graves – Dry White Wine
Graves – Red Wine
Graves de Vayres – Dry White Wine
Graves de Vayres – Red Wine
Graves Supérieures – Sweet White Wine
Haut Médoc – Red Wine
Lalande de Pomerol – Red Wine
Listrac Médoc – Red Wine
Loupiac – Sweet White Wine
Lussac Saint Emilion – Red Wine
Margaux – Red Wine
Médoc – Red Wine
Montagne Saint Emilion – Red wine
Moulis en Médoc – Red Wine
Pauillac – Red Wine
Pessac Léognan – Red Wine
Pessac Léognan – Dry White Wine
Pomerol – Red Wine
Prémieres Côtes de Blayes – Red Wine
Prémieres Côtes de Blayes – Dry White Wine
Prémieres Côtes de Bordeaux – Red Wine
Prémieres Côtes de Bordeaux – Sweet White Wine
Puisseguin Saint Emilion – Red Wine
Sainte Croix du Mont – Sweet White Wine
Sainte Foy Bordeaux – Red Wine
Sainte Foy Bordeaux – Sweet White Wine
Saint Emilion – Red Wine
Saint Emilion Grand Cru – Red Wine
Saint Estèphe – Red Wine
Saint Georges Saint Emilion – Red Wine
Saint Julien – Red Wine
Sauternes – Sweet White Wine