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Understanding the excellence of Bordeaux's Grands Crus as part of France's wine heritage - U'wine

  • Wed, Sep 6, 2023 at 17:08
Vineyards and Château d'Yquem
The world of wine can be a daunting one, with so many different wines to choose from. However, one specific region has always been synonymous with fine wines: Bordeaux. In this article, we'll be talking about Bordeaux wine and France's wine heritage.

Bordeaux, in southwestern France, is a wine-lover's paradise, boasting a rich viticultural heritage that dates back centuries. The wines produced here have seduced the palates of connoisseurs and amateurs alike, making Bordeaux a beacon of excellence in the world of wine.

A paradise for wine lovers - Bordeaux region

Bordeaux has been the world's wine capital since Roman times, and the wine trade flourished here in the Middle Ages. Over the years, Bordeaux has earned a reputation for producing exceptional wines, attracting the attention of wine lovers and merchants from all over the world. 

Bordeaux's unique terroir, a combination of soil, climate and topography, contributes to the distinctive characteristics of its wines. Proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the region's emblematic river, the Garonne, creates a temperate maritime climate, ideal for growing a variety of grape varieties and producing great wines. 

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Bordeaux wine rankings

Bordeaux wines are categorized according to the historic Bordeaux classification established in 1855, which identifies the best Bordeaux châteaux in five crus or classes. This classification is still valid today, and gives an indication of the reputation and quality of the wines. Over the years, other classifications have been introduced, creating a hierarchy that guides consumers in selecting the best wines.

Bordeaux grape varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape variety on Bordeaux's left bank. It is known for its pronounced black fruit aromas, vegetal notes, powerful tannins and high acidity. The Médoc, Margaux, Pauillac and Pessac-Léognan appellations are world-renowned for their predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon blends.  

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The predominant grape variety on the Right Bank is Merlot. Originally from the Libourne region, it appeared in the 18th century and is frequently used as a single variety or blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Merlot harvested on Bordeaux's right bank, in the Saint-Emilion and Pomerol appellations for example, is used almost exclusively in the creation of Grands Crus.

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Cabernet franc

Originating in the Spanish Basque country, where it is known as Achéria, Cabernet Franc is the oldest grape variety in the Bordeaux region. Cabernet Franc, a robust, vigorous grape variety, is considered to be the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, resulting from a cross with a Sauvignon Blanc strain. It is distinguished from Cabernet Sauvignon by its low tannin content, earliness and aromatic finesse.

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Petit Verdot 

Petit verdot is a late-ripening grape variety, giving the wine an intense color, rich tannic structure and powerful aroma. Although its cultivation is limited to a few hundred hectares, it can be found in many of the Médoc's grands crus classés, generally in proportions of 4 to 6%. It's unlikely, therefore, that you'll think of it as a wine in its own right, due to the often overwhelming nature of the tannins.

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This grape variety, native to south-western France, is renowned for its intense color, rich tannins and fruity aromas, producing sweeter wines than Cabernets. It is characterized by its late ripening, requiring more time to reach full maturity than Merlot, for example. As a result, it is mainly found in sunny regions such as Chile, California and even Argentina, where it has become the emblem of local viticulture.

The art of winemaking in Bordeaux

Wine specialists take great pride in the traditional winemaking methods they have inherited from their ancestors and passed down from generation to generation. These ancestral techniques play an essential role in developing the unique character of each wine, from meticulous harvesting to vinification in oak barrels.

Château d'Yquem and its vineyards

Yet, despite this emphasis on tradition, modern winemaking techniques and technological advances have also found their place in Bordeaux vineyards. Winegrowers know how to harmoniously blend tradition and innovation, creating wines that appeal to contemporary palates. Thanks to this balanced approach, Bordeaux wines remain at the cutting edge of excellence, combining age-old know-how with a touch of modernity to satisfy the expectations of today's wine lovers. 

Food and wine pairing

France is renowned for its expertise in gourmet cuisine, so it's no surprise that Bordeaux wines are a perfect match for delicate dishes. Left Bank wines, with their tannic structure, pair wonderfully with rich, flavorful dishes such as chicken, lamb, duck or steak. These dishes provide a pleasant balance by softening the tannins. Seafood and fish also complement these wines, especially lobster and tuna. 

As for dry white Bordeaux wines, they pair harmoniously with chicken, pasta dishes and creamy preparations. The sweet white wines of Sauternes and Barsac are renowned for pairing perfectly with Italian cheeses such as Pecorino and Parmesan, or for enhancing simple dishes such as white-fleshed fish, seafood such as scallops or oysters.

However, there are no strict rules when it comes to food and wine pairing. We invite you to explore new combinations and let your creativity flow for unique and surprising taste experiences!


The global appeal of Bordeaux wines

Bordeaux wines have won international renown, charming wine lovers and collectors in every corner of the globe. Their timeless elegance, remarkable craftsmanship and ability to age gracefully make them an emblem of excellence in the world of wine. 

To summarize

Bordeaux wines reflect France's rich winemaking heritage. From the prestigious history of winemaking to the many captivating flavors in every bottle, Bordeaux continues to seduce wine enthusiasts around the globe. Whether you're a wine specialist, an experienced connoisseur or simply curious, exploring the excellence of Bordeaux wines is an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression.

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