Bordeaux is France most celebrated wine region and in the wine making world, the name Bordeaux demands respect and invokes – sometimes impossible expectations. Bordeaux is the largest controlled wine growing region in France and has over 10,000 wine producers. Known mostly for red wine, Bordeaux is regarded as the mecca for red wine enthusiast all around the world. The red wines of Bordeaux are usually blends of two or more of the 5 popular grapes which include: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Merlot is the most planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions, which contributes to it being the most dominate grape variety in Bordeaux used for its rich fruit flavors and as a smoothing agent. Merlot wines are usually medium bodied with smooth tannins.
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world as it can be produced in many different climates, but Cabernet Sauvignon’s celebrity is mainly derived from its use in Bordeaux wines as a blend with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Used for its power, structure and aging potential, Cabernet Sauvignon is naturally acidic and high in tannins. Its popularity has earned it the name “King of the Wine Red Grapes. “
Cabernet Franc is also a dry red wine that is medium bodied and has low to moderate tannins. In Bordeaux is mainly used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It’s used for smoothing texture and has depending on the growing region may have the following aromas: peppery, raspberry, or tobacco.
Petit Verdot is not the most popular grape in Bordeaux due to the fact that it ripens much later than the more common grape varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s low yield and high maintenance makes it much more difficult to grow. However, Petit Verdot is still used as one of the blending grape varieties in the Bordeaux Blend and is used to add certain flavors and tannins to the blend.
Malbec is not very well-known in the United States but it’s growing in popularity. Malbec is the last of the 5 of grape varieties used in the Bordeaux blend and is usually used in small amounts to add some color and spice. Malbec became very popular in Argentina and is its most popular grape. The wine is fruity, lush and full-bodied with smooth tannins.
Red Wine Grapes of Bordeaux
Bordeaux is known for its red grapes and set the standard for red wine. Some of the less popular grapes like Petit Verdot and Malbec are growing in popularity or have found their way to other regions of the world where they are more widely produced. Red Bordeaux is usually dominated by two or three of the grape varieties and the percentage will vary from year to year depending on a multitude of factors. Nevertheless, Red Bordeaux is a great choice for red wine lovers.
Bordeaux Wine Producers
Bordeaux wine is made by more than 8,500 producers or chateaus, but there are a handful of elite producers of the legendary red wines. Château Lafite Rothschild is one of the wine estates in France that was awarded First Growth status, and with that status comes one of the most expensive red wines in the world. Some of the other noticeable, but less expensive producers include: Château Brane-Cantenac, Château Greys and Château Lynch-Bages.