The Bordeaux wine region


Médoc

Traveling north from Bordeaux, along the left bank of the Gironde, towards the sea, you enter the wine-red heart of the Médoc. Passing vast vineyards over rustic roads. Riding through beautiful old towns; Margaux, Saint-Estèphe, Saint Julien. Wine chateaus are rising everywhere, alone Pauillac counts eighteen properties.

Four of the five classified ‘Châteaux Premiers Crus’ are located in Médoc. Exquisite wines, such as Lafite Rothschild, Latour and Mouton Rothschild. La crème de la crème suprême.

Here, the vine roots have to dig deep for their growth and flowering. The soil consists of no more than sand, gravel, pebble, clay, and lime from the delta and some briny from the sea.
On the other hand, the ground is rich enough for a deep-digging grape like the Cabernet Sauvignon. This magical magic plant produces the richest fruits from the poorest soil. Ever since Roman times. The harvest is a delight.

Imagine. In colors and in flavors. You visit a castle, enjoy a local tasting. You pour a glass. Meanwhile peering through your filled glass to the west, towards the late sun. You see Burgundy as it is meant to be. You taste Médoc pur sang.

Saint-Émilion

Where the Dordogne meanders towards the sea, after countless streamlined curves below Saint-Émilion, its fruitful work has already been done. For centuries, it has formed pebble, sand, and clay on its banks, which, together with the slopes of soft limestone, make a high-quality ground for viticulture.

Here, the sun flavors the bunches of grapes. Here, they squeeze the fine fleur of Bordeaux. Here, the harvest ripens in oak barrels. As you approach Saint-Émilion, it is as if the vines are hugging the town. That popular and precious is the wine-ripe soil.

The town, medieval, picturesque, small but world-famous, is a UNESCO heritage. The surrounding vineyards, thousands of hectares, are Unesco heritage, being the first on earth. Merlot flourishes on the right bank, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc on the slopes on the left.

An exuberant wealth of charming chateaus and delicate tastings makes the region a joy. Sipping, tasting, enjoying, whizzing in your DS, Saint-Émilion lets you live like a king in France.

Sauternes

Do you have a sweet tooth? Ask the driver – your wine guide in sweet times – to head south to the Sauternes wine region. Red wine is always red, in many shades, however, white wine is rarely white. Sauternes' wine is gold-colored. It is a golden wine. Château d'Yquem is undoubtfully the star of the golden wine firmament. Whether the buyer was tipsy or not, in 2011 he or she paid € 85,000 for one bottle from 1811, the highest amount ever.

Even if you like red and robust, Sauternes is still a unique wine-music. The process is magical. You plant white grapes; Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Before the pretty late harvest, you leave the grape bunches untouched. Meanwhile drying, the grapes crystalize on the branch. Fermentation has started. Winegrowers make a prayer, hoping the fungus Botrytis Cinerea – which is ubiquitous here – infects the grapes, perforating them. Next, even more, moisture evaporates, and the grape sugars are triumphing. The grapes continue to ferment, the wine matures and turns golden and sweet. This process is called noble rot. Golden fermentation sounds more flavorful.

Delicious with other fermented food, such as bread and French cheeses. Sauternes takes on a golden color and tastes naturally sweet for sweet white wine lovers.

Graves and Pessac-Léognan

On the left bank of the Garonne, just south of Bordeaux, the Graves wine region boasts two AOCs (appellation d'origine contrôlée), the Graves and the Graves supérieures. Since the classification of Bordeaux wines of 1855, the wine of Château Haut-Brion - the only one outside the Médoc - has the highest French distinction; Premier Grand Cru Classé.

Here, the soil, the terroir, consists of gravel and boulders deposited by the river on thick layers of clay, lime and sand. Pine forests protect the vines from percipitation and wind. It is warmer here, more sweltering than in the other Bordeaux regions. Therefore, the harvest for the Graves wines is earlier. A part of the grapes is picked overripe in order to obtain the smooth sweetness of the Graves Supérieures. This is the only region around Bordeaux where red and white wines (dry and sweet) are produced in a balanced way; composed of several types of grapes.

Within the Graves wine region, the Pessac-Léognan region is a small piece of land with its own appellation since 1987, and this is where Château Haut-Brion with its robust reputation has stood for centuries. It does not detract from the quality, but Graves has lost its Premier Grand Cru Classé. Appellation Pessac-Léognan is now on the label.

Beautiful wines enjoy good company. Step into the Citroën Déesse. Vive les vignobles. Roll the wine in your glass. Release the aromas. Vignoblesse oblige. La noblesse du vin obligée.

 

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