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Language: French

Description: A seaport and capital of Gironde and of Bordelais on the Garonne river in south western France, Bordeaux is among the most important areas of France for the production of superior wines, of which around 500 to 750 million bottles are produced annually. The English have traditionally held the wines, which they call clarets, in high esteem since before they lost the region during the Hundred Years War.

The finest reds are from Médoc (which includes Margaux, Pauillac, St-Estephe and St-Julien), Graves, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. The latter two areas grow more Merlot grapes, creating soft, supple wines. In general 75% of red grapes grown are mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc and Merlot and some Malbec and Petit Verdot. The finest whites are the great dessert wines of Sauternes and Barsac, and dry white Graves made from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes. The Médoc and Graves wines use more Cabernet grapes and are more tannic and longer-lived. AC works as follows: most of the production is simply AC Bordeaux. Then comes Bordeaux supérieur, indicating a higher degree of alcohol. Next comes the name of a defined district (e.g. Graves, St-Emilion). Finally, there is the name of an individual commune or village, such as Margaux, Pauillac or Saint-Estèphe. This is the highest AC.

The greatest wines, such as Château Latour or Château Lafite-Rothschild, are simply AC Pauillac, along with other wines produced in the commune of Pauillac, and have no AC of their own. However, the top wines of Médoc were separately classified in 1855, divided into 5 classes or crus. At the top are the premiers crus - Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, Château Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion (in fact, in Graves), followed by 14 deuxième crus, 15 troisièmes crus, 10 quatrièmes crus and 18 cinquièmes crus. All carry the term ‘cru classé’ on their labels. Under these ranks of the very finest red wines are other classifications of cru bourgeois, bourgeois supérieur, grand bourgeois, bourgeois exceptionnel, all of which are wines of excellent quality. The wines of Saint-Emilion are classified into 12 premiers crus and about 70 grands crus.

With very many thanks to Chris Kissack, the wine doctor

Pronounced: bor-DOH
Ethnicity: French
Most frequent country: France
Most frequent region: Bordeaux

See places: French food and cuisine, Bordelais, Médoc, Pauillac

See foods and dishes: agneau de Pauillac

See drinks, wines etc: Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Côtes de Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux-Saint Macaire, Côtes de Bourg, Côtes de Canon Fronsac, Côtes de Fronsac, Côtes de Castillon, Côtes de Duras, Malbec, Médoc, Merlot, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon

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Database last updated: 21 June 2011 12:23