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Buying Bordeaux based wines

Knowing your Bordeaux based wines and their grape varieties

The Bordeaux wine region is one of the most prolific wine producing regions in the world. It produces 750 million bottles of wine per year. It makes everything from table wine (the lowest classification of wine) to some of the most celebrated wines in the world. But what types of wine comes out of Bordeaux and what makes each one unique? Let’s find out.

Red or white? Sweet or Sparkling?

Bordeaux is best known for its red wines, which are over 75 percent of production. But it also produces dry white wine, sweet wine, rose wine and sparkling wine.

Rule of Thumb: For the purposes of buying Bordeaux wine for your cellar, you should focus on red, dry white and sweet wines which tend to age better.

Grape varieties

In order for a wine to be considered a Bordeaux , only 6 red-wine varieties and 3 white-wine varieties may be used.

Red wines  

  • Merlot – Compared to Cabernet Sauvignon the Merlot grape is lower in tannins and makes wines that mature faster and are softer in texture. In Bordeaux wine Merlot is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon in order to soften the blend.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – The Cabernet Sauvignon grape produces distinctive wines that are tannic and can have long-aging potential. Average aging for Cabernet is 5 to 10 years in order to achieve peak flavour. In Bordeaux wine it is usually blended with other varieties to make wines with increased complexity.
  • Cabernet Franc – Although similar in structure and flavour to cabernet sauvignon, this red wine grape is not quite as full-bodied, and has fewer tannins and less acid. It is, however, more aromatic and herbaceous.

 White wines

  • Semillon – Semillon produces wines that are full-flavored, rich and aromatic. In Bordeaux wine, Semillon is most often blended with other varieties (especially Sauvignon Blanc) to take advantage of the strengths of each variety. Whether in the sweet wines or in dryer styles, Semillon has the ability to age for a very long time.
  • Sauvignon Blanc – The most prominent characteristic of sauvignon blanc is its distinctive, penetrating aroma, which can evoke scents of grapefruit, lime, green melon, gooseberry, passion fruit, freshly mown grass, and bell pepper. In Bordeaux wine it is often blended with Semillon in both dry and sweet wines.


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