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It is irrefutable that Bordeaux is one of the world’s most important fine wine regions, and indeed a strong argument can be made that it's the single-most important wine-producing area on the planet.bordeaux-city.jpg

The reasons for this are countless and varied, but there is no greater concentration of top-quality oenologists, wine producers than can be found in Bordeaux, not to mention the 125,000 hectares under vine producing perhaps 60 million cases of wine each year.  In fact, there are nearly 20,000 producers throughout the region.  And it is as if the entire city of Bordeaux, home to more than one million people, exists solely to facilitate the creation and dissemination of wine for the world.

Bordeaux is an important port city located near France’s south-west Atlantic coast, on the Garonne River (flowing into the Gironde Estuary), and is the capital of the ancient Aquitaine region.  Around 500 kilometres southwest of Paris, the city is practically surrounded by vines, and driving in nearly any direction will lead to one commune or another.  Most of the famous villages and Châteaux are within an hour or thereabouts  drive.  

bord-vines.jpgThe vast majority of the region is relatively flat, with gentle undulations rolling across the landscape.  The region is commonly divided in two - the Cabernet-based wines of the ‘left bank’, and the Merlot-dominant wines of the inland ‘right bank’.  Soils vary from light, well-drained silty gravel over heavier clays around the Gironde(an area recovered from swamp by the Dutch in the 17th century) while inland heavier clays, often over calcareous outcrops are typical.

The moderate climate is influenced by the nearby Atlantic Ocean, although frost can be a problem.



One of the keys to understanding Bordeaux and its wines is to appreciate its numerous classifications, and the ramifications they have had on both actual and perceived quality, and resultant pricing.  The most famous of these, the 1855 Classification of the Wines of the Gironde is somewhat of a landmark, in that it institutionalised a hierarchy amongst Châteaux, and its success ultimately lead to not only every major region in Bordeaux (apart from Pomerol) instigating similar, rankings, but in giving consumers a clearer picture of rankings, prices and expected quality, contributed to the implementation of similar rankings (including the creation of numerous Appellations Contrôlée throughout France) during the following century.

View the current Classifications here.


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