Bordeaux, a southwestern city in France has been the home to fine wines for hundreds of years. It is no wonder deemed to be the city of viticultural influence and excellence. But what makes Bordeaux wine so special?
When it comes to winemaking, some parts of the world ring out louder than others. There are names which take specific wine store shelves and are stacked in exquisite wine cellars. Regions like Barolo in Italy and Rioja in Spain are examples of areas where wine flows through the residents. But there is one name that resonates louder than any other wine-making country and has made a huge impact on the entire world. This place is none other than Bordeaux. It has redefined fine wine as a great concept that runs across the globe and over centuries. To understand the rationale for the popularity of this wine, we have to look at the historical background of the wine region and its geopolitical significance.
Some of the priciest bottles of wine come from Bordeaux and they provide great value for money to consumers. Great wine cellars around the world hold wines from this wine region. Even Thomas Jefferson, the first American wine connoisseur, drunk Bordeaux wine and visited the area to find out what makes it so darn special.
The Greatest Wine Region
First, Bordeaux is located in a great city and a developed port on the Gironde. 250,000 acres of the metropolis are vineyards. There are more than 20,000 winemakers but only about 100 are renowned globally. Every year, about 850 Bordeaux wine bottles are made.
Basically, Bordeaux is a business city by default. It has been of great importance as far as international trade goes in the last 500 years. Thanks to the royalty and aristocracy in Old Europe Bordeaux wine grew and prospered fashionably with funds being channeled to different wineries of the area so that the winemaking business could continue expanding. The wineries were particularly successful because of the favorable viticulture climate not to mention the consumers who had developed a strong liking towards the juice. The cool oceanic breezes, fertile soil, plus warm temperatures make the perfect land for vineyards. Coupled with a lucrative international trade, the Bordeaux wine rose to fame and has maintained a high rank since then.
Distinctive Quality Grapes
Bordeaux region produces some of the best red wines but even some sweet white wines originate from here. We are not talking about the typical red wines but meticulously blended wines from top-notch grape varietals. The grapes are mixed and balanced to create extraordinary notes, textures, and flavors. The noble grapes include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Most wineries and appellations may add other varietals like Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. However, the only varieties that matter are the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon. They are required by law for a wine to carry the Bordeaux label.
Bordeaux has different sub-regions which are unique in their own ways. The region is separated by Gironde River to create two major sub-regions. The left bank has some of the highest-quality wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. These wines have deeper bodies, higher astringency, and stronger tannins. Adding on to this character, a smaller amount of Merlot brings a plumpy and fruity smoothness to a Bordeaux wine bottle.
On the right side of the bank, Merlot is used as the prime grape. So, the soft and fruity wines are strengthened by Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Every winery includes other blends to accentuate the qualities and give rise to a special wine family. The wines may differ slightly but they come from the same grape varietal and their consistency is excellent.
The Aging Potential
This is one of the reasons Bordeaux costs more than regular wines. All Bordeaux red wines are aged in barrels before packaging. But due to the emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon tannin, they can still age in the bottles. This process allows the tannins to smoothen up. The other wine components blend further, creating the optimal complexity and roundness. That is why most Bordeaux wines take lots of money at auctions and they end up sitting untouched in the dusty cellar for years.
You don’t need to be super rich to enjoy Bordeaux Wine
There is a wrong notion that Bordeaux is made for the rich. The wine is excellent and exclusive but it doesn’t have to make you rob a bank. With less than $20, you can find a red Bordeaux wine from various appellations such as St. Emilion. There are very strict rules in France regarding the quality of Bordeaux wine and so the consumers are highly protected from unnecessary price inflations. So, you can participate in the viticulture tradition with a small amount of cash.
Different taste and styles
The taste of Bordeaux wine is enough to make it popular. Don’t forget that 7,500 winemakers produce about 10,000 different versions of Bordeaux. There is no generalized taste unless we break down the wine into different versions. Some of the major categories include:
- Older Bordeaux
- Young Bordeaux
- Cabernet Sauvignon blends
- Merlot blends
- Dry-sweet white Bordeaux
The taste of Bordeaux takes into consideration the tannin content.
What are tannins?
These are complex polymers that are capable of combining with other compounds. Tannins leave your mouth dry or with a puckering feel. They add structure to a beverage just like the backbone. Most people claim that Bordeaux wines are too tannic but this is not correct. The amount of tannins in the wine is not the only thing that counts. The ripeness of the grapes matters a lot when it comes to the tasting experience. Ripe tannins are softer, silky, and elegant and therefore do not leave a puckering sensation in your mouth. Also, the skin tannins have the softest texture. But those of the seeds and stems are a bit harsh.
Most people are familiar with Left Bank Bordeaux Wine. It delivers fruity aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, coffee bean, cassis, vanilla, spice, and dark cherry. It is normally tannic, concentrated, firm, and powerful. In its young stage, it appears to be austere depending on the particular grape that has been used.