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The Bordeaux Wine Region Of France

Located in the south west of France around the city of Bordeaux, the Bordeaux wine region lies close to the Atlantic ocean and the region covers more than 10,000 square kilometers and supports approximately 284,000 acres of vineyards. Today Bordeaux is home to thousands of wine producing châteaux following a tradition started way back in the first century AD.

Bordeaux winters are small and the climate overall is temperate with long hot summers. Humidity in the region but tends to be high as it is located close to the estuaries of the Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde rivers.

The vineyards of Bordeaux are divided into five distinct regions and there are also 57 appellations. The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in France is applied to a defined region in which the manner in which wines are produced, labeled and sold is strictly regulated.

The Medoc region, which lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the estuary of the Gironde River, grows largely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines on a series of gravel plateaus made over many hundreds of years over a heavy clay and limestone base. The Medoc region produces about 36 million bottles of wine each year from approximately 400 vineyards covering some 10,500 acres.

The Graves region, which lies to the west of the Garonne River, gets its name from the pebbles found in the soil of this area which provides brilliant drainage and produces very healthy vines. Graves produces a lovely garnet-colored red wine with a balance of Merlot and Cabernet grapes and the white wines produced here are dry and are based mainly on the Semillon grape with some Sauvignon Blanc blended in.

To the south of Graves lies the Sauterne region enjoying a warm and dry climate and with a soil which is rich in limestone. The white wines which are fermented from Semillon grapes grown on this limestone rich soil are sweet, a quality which is enhanced through the addition of a fungus known as Botrytis Cinerea.

This region is particularly well known for its sweet dessert wines such as, Raymond-Lafon, Yquem and Rieussec and produces about 4.5 million bottles each year on approximately 4,500 acres.

Saint Emilion, which lies to the east of the Gironde River, is the oldest wine growing area in Bordeaux. The soil of this region ranges from limestone gravel to mostly sand which once more provides brilliant drainage and the main grape grown here is the Merlot. Saint Emilion is particularly well known for producing high quality, robust and quick maturing red wines and produces some 36 million bottles each year on about 13,000 acres.

By far the smallest wine growing region of Bordeaux is the Pomeral which grows vines on just 1,900 acres of sandy soil over a clay base which has significant iron content. The region supports predominantly Merlot grapes, together with some Bouchet grapes, which is a type of Cabernet Franc, and makes some scarce but superior red wines including the Château Pétrus.

Many of the red wines from the Bordeaux region have age extremely well over 5 to15 years and some will produce brilliant drinking as much as 50 years after bottling. With so many very excellent wines produced by the region but it may be hard to resist the temptation for decant a fine Bordeaux red for as much as 50 years.

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