Wednesday, August 13, 2014
The Grapes Behind The Fine Bordeaux Wine
The Bordeaux wine region covers a large area of 120,000 hectares in vines, making it the second biggest wine region in the world. The diversity of its soils, its mix of climates and combinations of grape varieties allows Bordeaux to produce a variety of different wines including dry and sweet white, red, rosé, clairet and sparkling wines.
The red wines of Bordeaux rely primarily on three grapes—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. However, Petit Verdot and Malbec are also permitted and grown in small amounts in some of the fine vineyards. The white wines make up around only 11 % of the vineyards and are mainly based in Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Bordeaux region is unusual in that its wines are created by blending different grapes. Other French regions, such as Chablis or Beaujolais use just one variety. The production of Bordeaux wine is very particular and can be quite a complex process.
Cabernet Franc is one of the best known black grape varieties and makes up 10% of Bordeaux production. This wine enhances the fruitiness of the wine, by enhancing the different berry flavours. The plants are more tolerant of poor soil quality and dry conditions. It is mainly grown for blending with cabernet sauvignon and Merlot.
DNA analysis indicates that Cabernet Franc is one of two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cross between that grape and Sauvignon Blanc.
Cabernet Sauvignon (Red)
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the main grapes in the Médoc wine region. It makes up around 26% of Bordeaux production and is rich in tannins. It works to enhance the structure of the wine and assists with ageing. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Merlot created the earliest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon wine. However, Cabernet Sauvignon was first blended in Bordeaux with Syrah, a mixture that is now widely seen in Australia.
This grape makes up 50% of the Bordeaux production and is used mainly in the Cotes wine region vineyards. It is often used for the Bordeaux blend but is able to stand alone. This grape is known to set and ripen unevenly, making it quite difficult to grow. Merlot adds to the flexibility and to the body of Bordeaux wines. It enhances colour and matures more quickly than Cabernets.
Sauvignon Blanc (White)
Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world famous regions and produces a crisp, dry and very refreshing wine. It goes very well with a variety of foods, and it also costs less to produce than Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc works well in a variety of different styles and can blend well with oak and Semillon. The wine is best served in its youth, but can benefit from spending a short time in a cellar. The wine produces a complex range of flavours and tones -making it suitable for many different preferences.
Semillion makes up 8% of the Bordeaux production. It is the main ingredient for sweet wines and is important for the production of dry, fresh and lively white wines. In Bordeaux, the grape is normally blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. When the grape is used to make the sweet white wines, such as those from Sauternes, Barsac and Cérons - it is often the dominant variety within the blend.
To conclude, when creating fine wine of a high standard, the quality of the grape is very important. All Bordeaux wines are made only using the finest and that is why they are one of the most commonly sought after varieties when it comes to investment wine.
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