The Bordeaux region is a large area in the south west of France, situated along the banks of the river Garonne. It is one of the major wine producing areas of the world, so famous that the name of the original wine from this area – clairet – has become synonymous with Bordeaux red wine, with the term claret. This area has been producing wine for hundreds if not thousands of years, and there is probably something like half as much land again devoted to vineyards than the Rhone, which is the next largest region. The majority of wine, about four fifths, produced in Bordeaux is red wine.
Bordeaux red wine derives its depth and flavour ultimately from the terroir, the soil in which the vines grow and mature. In the Bordeaux region this soil is based on limestone rock, with correspondingly high calcium content, and gravelly or sandy soils. The vineyards that are regarded as the best are all close to the banks of the Garonne; an old French adage has it that the best wine estates can see the river, and most of the land that faces the river is now occupied by classified estates.
Some of the best Bordeaux red wine is reputedly that made in the Pomerol, Medoc, and Saint-Emilion areas.
The Margaux region produces reds that are either medium or full bodied, and known for the almost floral bouquet they have. Chateau Margaux is the best known of these wines, and is the regions only premier cru.
The estates of Montrose and Cos d”Estournel in St. Estephe are located in areas with more clay in the soil, which retains water so they tend to do rather better in dryer years, producing wines with slightly more depth than the other wines from left bank estates.
Bordeaux red wine is usually made with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, often with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Many of the most sought after, and expensive, wines in the world are Bordeaux red wines; Chateau Lafitte Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Chateau d’Yquem , Chateau Latour being a few of the better known names.
While many of the wines from this area are renowned, and have a correspondingly premium price, it is quite possible to acquire a good Bordeaux red wine without breaking the bank. A Moueix Merlot, soft, fruity and rich with berry overtones, can be had without breaking the bank, goes well with all sorts of food, but especially strong flavoured meat dishes, and is also a good wine for relaxing with friends. Not many people realise that Merlot is the grape variety that is grown most in Bordeaux.
Bordeaux red wine is produced by thousands of different growers and chateaux, and there are 57 appellations, ensuring that there is an endless variety of wine, ranging from some of the very best wines in the world to everyday reds that are easy drinking and refreshing. There is a wine for every taste and every budget.
Obviously the very highest quality Bordeaux red wine commands a good price, but there are some extremely good quality wines at very competitive prices.
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