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is a largest AC region in France by volume and value. It is home for most prestigious names in fine wine, but is struggled to find a common identity for its less valuable wines in the international market and sales have suffered.
Bordeaux is divided on two parts, left and right coast of the river Garonne. Its capable of producing some of the greates and most expencive red and sweet white wines and is growing reputation for its premium dry white wines. However, it is very small precentage of total production and there is a massive gap between resources available to a few wealthy producers and vast majority who often struggle to make ends meet.
- Bordeaux has moderate maritime climate. It benefit from the warming effect of the Gulf Stream from Caribbean to north which ensure enough warmth for extended period of grow in altumn (Octomber) which is solve spring frost as rare problem, Vineyards are protected from Atlantic's heavy storms with the Landes forest and sand dunes which is both stretch along the shore.
Bordeaux have high rainfall, average 950 mm per year and fals trough year and can disrupt flowering and fruit set.
Vintage variations is important consideration in Bordeaux, the top producers can reduces differences between vintages by rejecting unhealty and unripe grapes.
Soil of Bordeaux are very varied and correctly ripen of grape depend of water managment and warmth retention of soil.
Solution is find in replanting the vineyards with new rootstocks more adaptable to this soil and have lower but more quality yields.
Two biggest problems in Bordeaux vineyards are fungal disease and variable level of grape ripeness.
VSP, Green Harvesting and leaf stripping are result with more healthier grapes. Furthermore best producers rejecting unhealthy grapes and doing selection and calibration to the ripen berries, usualy by hand.
Grape Varieties
Almost all red wines and most white wines are produced from a blend of grape varieties. This is not world disaster. Variability of weather conditions do not allow to rely on one varieties, so they need to improve wine by blending with another good varieties. Different varieties are flowering and ripening on different period in the year, this can reduce possibility that variations of weather can affect to crop. Blending wines in Bordeaux is perfected over centuries.
Thirteen grape varieties are permited under the AC regulations, but three black and two white predominate.
Cabarnet Sauvignon
- northen limit for growing up
- dominate Haut Medoc
- important for Bas-Medoc and Graves
- soil with big stones, reflecting sun heat
- blending: 3/4 Cab.S, varieties, usualy with Merlot
- tanninic, blackcurrant, has albility for ageing,
- when it's unripe, have high tannin, overly herbaceous
Cabarnet Franc
- mainly grow in Saint Emilion
- lesser in Medoc and Graves
- soil well drained and warm
- less body, tannin and finesse
- ripe have marked fragrance which is a key for blanding with Cab.S.
- unripe have herbaceous and stalky flavour
- widely planted in Bordeaux
- Important Sant Emilion and Pomerol
- full body, medium tannin wine, mature earlier than Cab.S
- it add softness, richness and body when blending with austere Cab.S. and it relies on the two Cabs for aromatic fruit, colour and tannin.
- lack character except on very low yilds, good for producing inexspencive wines.
Petit Verdot
- It ripens fully only in very hot years
- very deep-coloured and tannic wines, slow ageing
- minor role in a blend, only for color, tannin and some exotic spicy notes.
- Most widely plantet white variety
- Thin skin, affinity for nobile rot
- Sweet wines
- It gives wines gold colour and plenty of body
- Ability for oak and ageing
Sauvignon Blanc
- herbaceous, grassy and elderflower aroma
- (exceptions) it is used for signle varietal white wines
- when blended, its high acidity acting as counterbalance to flabbiness od Semillon.
- grapey, floral aromas
- important supporting role in sweet and dry wines
- small precetage in blend.
Red Wines
- majority producers destem whole crop
- Fermentation: oak, concrete and stainless steel vats
- gentleness and sophisticates cap management
- most wines are blending in spring
- secont or even third atempt make wine from not enough good wine
- sold off in bulk
- ageing in french oak 225 Lit barrels
- generic Boredaux wines do not see oak at al
- ageing period in oak barrels is different from property to property, usualy 15-18 months.
Dry White Wines
- reduction of sulfur, stainless steel vats and temperature control improve production od dry white wines.
- express grape aromas and make stable as wines age
in combination with healty and more ripen grape, now gives to Boredaux white more freshness and fruitiness, also by avoiding malolactic.
- Premium dry whites from Pessac Leognan
Sweet Wines
- great sweet wine in Bordeaux are made from grape infected with nobile rot
- They are high in alcohol and the best samples are fermented and aged in new oak vats.
The Principal Areas of Bordeaux
- Garonne and Dordogne form Gironde estuary and devide Boredaux vineyards on three board areas.
- SW is Medoc, Graves and Sauthernes refered as Left Bank
- E area between Garonne and Dordogne is covered by the "Entre-Deux-Mers AC" (between two seas)
- NE of Gironde and Dordogne is principal district Saint-Emilion and Pomerol refered as Right Bank
Generic Appellations
- otput of generic appellations wines riches 3 mil Hl
- 2/3 are red, labeled: Bordeaux AC, Bordeaux superiur AC,
- white are labeled Bordeaux AC
- rose are labeled Bordeaux Rose or Bordeaux Clairet
- it's standard basic Bordeaux wines which constantly improved, their best reds are medium bodied, black berry and cedar notes
- Best rose are fresh and fruity, clairet with longer maceration have deeper colour and fuller bodied
- white Bordeaux dominated by Sauvignon Blanc with vibrant grassy elderflower character.
The Reds of Medoc and Graves
- between Gironde and sea lay long stretch region devided by city of Bordeaux on two sub regions, north is Medoc and on the South is Graves.
- best reds are in Haut-Medoc and Pessac-Leognan where in vineyards dominate Cab. S.
- best wines are very structured, high tannin and acid, concentrated black currant fruit overlaid with toasted oak.
- affinity to ageing for decades and develop tertiar aromas as cigar box, cedar ...
- outside Medoc and Pessac-Leognan leading variety in blend is Merlot.
- northernmost part of the Medoc is Bas-Medoc labeled as Medoc AC. soil is clay with gravel.
- High rated vineyards lays south from Saint Estephe, all red wines are under 1855 clasification, contoled yields.
- Four with highes reputation are, Saint-Estephe AC, Paulliac AC, Saint-Julien AC and Margaux AC.
- On south of Bordeaux lies Pessac-Leongnan AC where are locatet all Cru Classe Chateaux, soil are gravely and well-situated to Cab.S. wines are little lighter in body and more fragrant than finest wines in Haut -Medoc. Mature more quiclky.
- South od Pessac-Leongnan are Graves AC, in blend are with more Merlot, less concentrated and complex.
The Reds of Libourne
- Domination of Merlot, lesser Cabarnet Franc
- Saint Emilion AC larger of two principal appellations and three dinstinct groups of vineyards on different soils.
- First are N and W from Saint Emilion, soil warm, well drained, grave and lime stone. Cab. Franc (unusual Cab. S.)
- Second S and E form Saint Emilion, soil clay and limestone.
- Most prestigious wines come from those two sub regions above, labeled as "Saint Emilion Grand Cru AC" , great care, low-yielding vineyards, usually aged in expensive new French oak. soft and rich red berry and plum aromas, develop to tobacco and cedar.
- Pomerol AC, high reputation, rarity affect to value, rich, blackberry fruit character. Petrus and Le Pin wines are among highest price wines in Bordeaux.
- "Garagistes" "Vin de Garage" , producers of wine in small winery from small Cru Classe vineyards.
- "Micro-cuvees" - more concentrate wine and richer wines than typical Bordeaux wines.
- Pomerol and Saint Emilion are sorounded by a group of satelite appellations, vilages Luccas, Montagne, Puisseguin and Saint-Georges can add their name before that of Saint Emilion.
- Lalande de Pomerol AC does likewise whereas Fronsac AC and Canon-Fronsac AC, style similar but lower price.
Cotes de Bordeaux
- lesser known red wines,
- From 2008 Blaye, Francs, Castillon and Cadillac can put their names in front of Cotes de Bordeaux AC.
- early drinking
- Cotes de Bourg make similar wines bud choose to not be a part of this group.
- NOTE ! Premieres Cote de Bordeaux it's a sweet wine appellation !!!
Premium Dry White Wines
- Sauvignon Blanc, sandy soils, south Graves AC and Entre-Deux-Mers AC
- In lack of more specific white wine appellations dry white wine made in Medoc and Sauternes use generic Bordeaux appellations.
- Pessac Leognan sub-region have best white wines and all Cru Classe Chateaoux.
Sweet Wines
-Top sweet wines Garonne river and its tributari Ciron
- Misty autumn dewelop nobile rot (Botrytis) on ripe grapes.
- Passerillage is another proces that help to concentrate sugar, importand in years with low botrytis.
- Best wines come from Souterns AC and Bersac AC.
- Dominant grape variety Semillon, thin skin, for acidity balans Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadele for exotic flavours.
- Wines are high in alcohol, usualy new oak barel fermemted, unique orange marmelade flavour, also apricot, honey and vanila. high priced
- satelite appellations of Sauterns include: Cerons AC, Loupiac AC, St-Croix-du-Mont AC and Premiers Cotes de Boredaux AC.
Bordeux Clasifications
- exception of Saint Emilion
- rank individual producers knovn as chateaux
- not vineyards, beacause thay vary in size through the years by puchase or sale the plots, as Chateaux Petrus spread from 1969 for 50% their vineyards.
The Medoc and Sauterns
- 1855 clasification is created by order of Bordeaux chamber commercial, a panel of brokers was drawn up the list who clasified the red wines of Medoc and white wines of Sauterns.
- based on unoficial classifications and applies chateaux not vineyards, price was atractive to market.
- Bordeaux classifications is devide in 5 groups, top group apply Chateaux Lafite, Latur and Margoux with Haut-Brion from Graves. Mouton-Rothschild joined top rank in 1973.
- Sauterns classification is devide in 3 groups, Chateaux d'Yquem occupying top rank.
- Cru Bourgeois 1932 result with legal challenge, and sys collapsed.
- From 2008 any Medoc wine can be submitete for assessment by tasting panel and tille Cru Bourgeois its onlu use for specific vintage,
Graves (Pesac-Leognan)
- wines of Graves are classified in 1959 and all listed wines can call themselves Cru Classe. Chateaux Haut-Brion is included but can retains its classification from 1855.
- All Cru Class Chateaux are under Pessac-Leognan AC
Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
- partly integrated into appellation sys.
- Saint-Emilion Grand Cru AC is devided to Saint-Emilion Grand Cru and Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru
-Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru is devide to
A ( Chateaux Cheval Blanc and C. Auson)
B (the rest).
- every ten years have reclassification of chateaux
The Trade in Bordeaux Wines
- La Place de Bordeaux is unique trade structure.
Vast majority of producers sell thair wines to their merchants (negociants) who sell than on. Between producers and merchants are brokers (courtiers) who take commission on every sale, normaly 2%.
- Negociants need to have kowlege of sells
- Courtier have knowlege of wines
- producers don't have control on sells and marketing with La Place sys, and unlikely this sys will colapse soon.
En Primeur Sales
- Cash flow management is additional problem, money are tied up in stock.
- Most producers sell part of their wine in forwarding harvest to ensure enough money for new production.
- Wines are sale after the rating of quality in several transhes are known as En Primeur Sales.
- first tranche are very limited to test the market, generaly in the next tranche the price are increase.
- wine bought on this way will be kept at chateaux for maturation, wine are usualy released after two years.
- This system of sales need investment before the wine is done.
The Future for Bordeaux