The Bordeaux region has an ideal environment for growing vines. The area lies in the south west of France, on the watersheds of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, and along the estuary known as the Gironde. The soil is limestone, overlain by gravelly and sandy soils to the north, this is known as ‘terroir’ and contributes significantly to the flavour and aroma of the wine produced in the region. Many wines are made from grapes from a single vineyard, and thus retain the unique characteristics of the soil the grapes were grown in. Indeed, many connoisseurs regard Bordeaux as the worlds wine capital.
Bordeaux red wine, which forms the bulk of the wine produced in this large region, is usually made from a blend of different grape types, typically Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Merlot is the most common grape grown in Bordeaux.
While Bordeaux red wine can be very expensive, with some of the better wines costing well over a thousand pounds for a single bottle, there is a huge variety of wines to suit all budgets, with some very reasonable wines to be had at attractive prices.
The right bank of the Garonne tends to produce wines whose main ingredient is the Merlot grape. These wines are generally fruity and fresh, and less dry that their counterparts produced on the left bank, which are robust, with lots of tannin, produced primarily from the grape variety. This grape does require quite a lot of sun to ripen, so it matures fairly late on in the year, and the wine will improve if kept. Wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon will usually have an intense colour and is frequently very aromatic.
The left bank wines, such as the famous Margaux and Pauillac appellations, typically keep for longer and will improve with cellaring.
While the wines made from Merlot are usually drinkable much earlier, this is not to say that they do not keep, and many can be laid down for years to improve in the bottle. Pomerol is a very well known brand. Merlot grapes ripen earlier, and produce less tannin. Wine produced from Merlot generally has a fruity, almost spicy bouquet, and can impart a pleasant softness to the wine.
While each appellation of Bordeaux red wine will come from a specific geographical area with unique rules concerning growing, production methods and ageing, all Bordeaux red wines share some features; a deep colour, aromatic bouquet and full, round taste.
Most Bordeaux red wine will improve with cellaring, and many wine lovers like to keep track of the changes in colour to various shades of brick red. As the colour changes develop, the bouquet tends to become more woody and spicy, often characteristic of a particular vineyard, and the flavour tends to round off and become softer.
If you are looking to invest in wine, then Bordeaux red wine can be a very good choice. Bordeaux wines are consistently well rated, and this is assured by the level of expertise that has accumulated in the region, which has been producing high quality wine for hundreds of years.
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