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Flashcards in Bordeaux Deck (66)
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In terms of both volume of wine produced and appellation size, Bordeaux is the:

  • smallest
  • largest

region in France.

Largest in terms of volume and appellation size.

The Bordeaux region makes approximately 900 million bottles of wine each year.


What is the climate of Bordeaux?

Bordeaux has a moderate Maritime climate.

Bordeaux is known for its high levels of rainfall and humidity, but it also benefits from the Gulf Stream which limits spring frosts and allows ripening to continue into October in certain years.


What are the three main rivers of the Bordeaux region?

  1. Gironde
  2. Dordogne
  3. Garonne


What is the name of the man-made forest that separates the Bordeaux region from the Atlantic Ocean?

Les Landes


To the west of Bordeaux are the Les Landes forest and coastal sand dunes.  What do they do for the region?

Provide protection against storms off the Atlantic Ocean.


Because Bordeaux sees rainfall throughout the year, sometimes excessively, what are some effects that vignerons have to look out for in the vineyard?

  • Flower + fruit set disruption, if in the early spring
  • Rot + disease
  • Flavor dilution, especially if right before harvest


Are the majority of wines from Bordeaux bottled as blends or single varietals?

Most red and white Bordeaux wines are blends.

Because of the uncertainty of the weather (rain and frost in particular), the Bordelais rely on different grapes that flower and ripen at different times.


White Bordeaux wines are primarily blends of which 2 grapes?

What is the third grape that's sometimes used?

  1. Sauvignon Blanc
  2. Sémillon
  3. Muscadelle (sometimes used and, when it is, only a small percent)


Red Bordeaux wines are typically blends of which 3 red grapes?

What is the fourth red grape that's sometimes used in the blend?

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Merlot
  3. Cabernet Franc
  4. Petit Verdot (sometimes used and, when it is, only a small percent)


What is the most widely planted grape variety in Bordeaux?


Merlot accounts for around 66% of the red grapes planted in Bordeaux.


What kind of Bordeaux soil does the Merlot grape thrive in?

Cooler clay soils of the Right Bank.

Merlot is able to grow in soils too cool for Cabernet Sauvignon, making it the most widely planted grape on Bordeaux's Right Bank.


In what Bordeaux soils does Cabernet Sauvignon produce the best wines?

Why does Cabernet Sauvignon thrive in these soils?

Stone + gravel soils of the Left Bank.

The stony, gravelly soils of the Médoc and Graves are the only soils that can consistenly ripen Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux. This is why the wines of the Left Bank are regularly associated with Cabernet Sauvignon.


Cabernet Franc prefers what type of soils in Bordeaux?

Gravel + limestone soils that are relatively warm + well drained.

Historically Cabernet Franc has done well in Saint-Émilion, and somewhat well in Médoc and Graves.


The Petit Verdot grape variety is known for adding what characteristics to wines?

Petit Verdot is known for adding tannin, color, and some spice flavors to the blend.


Why has Petit Verdot not played a larger part in Bordeaux wines as of late?

Petit Verdot has far fewer plantings than Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc because it is only able to ripen in very hot years.

While even a little Petit Verdot can have a noticeable impact on the wine, Petit Verdot's late budding and late ripening mean that it is the last grape harvested and it does not consistently ripen in Bordeaux.


What are the 2 principal appellations of the Right Bank?

  1. Saint-Émilion
  2. Pomerol


What red grape varietal dominates the wines on the Right Bank?


Cabernet Franc and, to a lesser extent, Cabernet Sauvignon, play supporting roles in Right Bank blends.


What red grape dominates the blends in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol?



How do the wines of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol differ?

Saint-Émilion wines tend to be well structured with a plush mouthfeel, soft and plummy, red berried-fruit, and layers of tobacco and cedar.

Pomerol is apt to be even richer, more velvety, and spicier than Saint-Émilion, with a darker, blue and blackberry fruit character.


Saint-Émilion can be loosely divided into 3 different groups of soils.  What are they?

  1. North + west of Saint-Émilion: warm, well-draining gravel and limestone;
  2. South + east of Saint-Émilion: clay and limestone;
  3. Sandy soils at the base of the escarpment found in Saint-Émilion.

The first two produce the finest wines of the appellation.


What is the difference between St.-Émilion Grand Cru and St.-Émilion Grand Cru Classé?

St.-Émilion Grand Cru is an AOP and only requires a producer to follow the AOP guidelines to label a wine as St.-Émilion Grand Cru. 

St.-Émilion Grand Cru Classé is a classification system and only ranked properties may be labeled as St.-Émilion Grand Cru Classé.


How often are the wines of Saint-Émilion reclassified?

At least once every 10 years.

Unlike the Médoc and Graves classifications which have remained fairly consistent since their inception, the Saint-Émilion properties are subject to promotions and demotions at least once a decade. The last classification was completed in 2012.


Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé is subdivided into ___ and ___.

  • Premier Grand Cru Classé A (the top)
  • Premier Grand Cru Classé B


What does the term 'garagiste' refer to?

'Garagiste' refers to small châteaux making red wines that are full-bodied, incredibly ripe and made in minute quantities from small plots of land, usually from the Right Bank of Bordeaux.

These wines typically spare no expense in the vineyard or the winery.  They command extremely high prices.

La Mondotte is an example of a garagiste.


What are the areas included in the Left Bank of Bordeaux?

  1. All of the Médoc
  2. Graves
  3. Sauternes


What is the dominant red grape on the Left Bank of Bordeaux?

Cabernet Sauvignon


What are the 4 communes, or communal appellations, of the Médoc that have the highest reputation for their wines?

From north to south:

  • Saint-Estèphe AOP
  • Pauillac AOP
  • Saint-Julien AOP
  • Margaux AOP


Describe the 1855 Classification.

The Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce ranked the top properties of Bordeaux for the Paris Universal Exhibition.  The wines were categorized by price into First through Fifth Growths (aka Crus Classés).

All of the properties classified for red wine—with the exception of Château Haut-Brion in Graves—were Médoc châteaux.


Which commune in the Médoc is home to the most Premier Grand Cru Classé wines of the 1855 Classification?


Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, and Mouton-Rothschild are all located in Pauillac.


Name the 5 First Growths in Bordeaux classified for their red wines and include their AOPs/AOCs.

Pauillac AOP

  • Château Lafite-Rothschild
  • Château Mouton-Rothschild​ (upgraded in 1973)
  • Château Latour

Margaux AOP

  • Château Margaux

Graves AOP

  • Château Haut-Brion


Due to the small size of the 1855 Classification, what other classification was introduced to rank the other important properties of the Left Bank of Bordeaux?

Cru Bourgeois

Cru Bourgeois is different from the 1st-5th Growths in that a château is bestowed Cru Bourgeois depending on their wine from a specific vintage; the estate itself is not ranked the way 1st-5th Growths are.


The wines of Sauternes were also classified in 1855 and were divided into three growths, with one château achieving the top rank of Premier Cru Supérieur.

Which châteaux acheived this top rank?

Château d’Yquem


What grape varieties are used to make the sweet wines of Sauternes AOP?

  • Sémillon is used because of its high susceptibility to botrytis;
  • Sauvignon Blanc adds acid and fruity aromas;
  • Muscadelle brings perfume and other exotic scents to the wine.


Which of the three white grapes used in Sauternes and Barsac is always the most dominant in the blend?



Sauternes AOP is on the east or west bank of the Garonne?

West bank


What sweet wine AOP is situated within the Sauternes AOP? 

Barsac AOP

Barsac is unique in that it can label its wines as either Barsac AOP or Sauternes AOP.


Which two rivers provide the Sauternes region with the ideal climate for producing Noble Rot?

The Garonne River and its tributary the Ciron River.

The joining of these two rivers produces the morning fogs needed to develop Noble Rot.


In Bordeaux vintages where there is little noble rot, what technique is used in the vineyards to help concentrate grape sugars?



Wines from Sauternes + Barsac AOPs are:

  • fermented or matured in oak
  • not fermented or matured in oak

Fermented or matured in oak

The vanilla and toast aromas/flavors in these wines comes from oak usage for fermentation and/or maturation.


If a producer in Sauternes AOP makes a still, dry, white wine, what appellation does it take?

Bordeaux AOP


Where is Entre-Deux-Mers located in Bordeaux?

Between the Dordogne and the Garonne Rivers.

"Entre-Deux-Mers" literally translates to "between two seas."


What is the style of wine produced in the Entre-Deux-Mers AOP?

Still, dry white wines based on Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle, typically unoaked.


What are the styles of wine permitted in Graves and Pessac-Léognan AOPs?

Dry white and red wines


Red wines that come from the large Entre-Deux-Mers region must be labelled with these more generic AOPs.

Bordeaux AOP or Bordeaux Supérieur AOP


List general points of how the white wines of Entre-Deux-Mers differ from those of Pessac-Léognan.

Entre-Deux-Mers whites:

  • rarely see new oak
  • more affordably priced
  • fresh and fruity with minimal aging

Pessac-Léognan whites:

  • higher quality
  • higher prices
  • typically see a portion of new oak for fermentation and/or maturation and require some bottle aging.


Entre-Deux-Mers white wines are typically made just with this grape.

Pessac-Léognan white wines are typically made with these two grapes.

Entre-Deux-Mers = Sauvignon Blanc

Pessac-Léognan = Sémillon + Sauvignon Blanc


What vessels are commonly used to age top-quality red Bordeaux wines?

Nearly all top-quality Bordeaux red wines are aged in French barriques. Barriques are small oak barrels that hold 225 liters of wine.

While top-quality Bordeaux red wines are aged in 100% new French oak, lower-quality wines can be aged in larger oak barrels or slightly used barrels. Most generic Bordeaux wines will not see any oak at all.


How many liters (or gallons) of wine does the famous Bordeaux barrique barrel hold?

225 liters (around 60 gallons)


Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross created from what other two famous Bordeaux varieties?

Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc


What is a "Grand Vin"?

A Grand Vin is a wine that the château considers to be its best wine.


What important contribution to the region of Bordeaux did the Dutch make in the 1600s?

In the 1600s the Dutch drained the Médoc peninsula, allowing the region to grow grapes.

The Dutch's thirst for sweet white table wines and brandy led them to drain the Médoc and create suitable vineyard areas in what was historically swampland.


What is clairet?

Clairet is a pale red wine that sits between rosé and red.

Clairet spends a longer time macerating (sometimes up to 48 hours) compared to Bordeaux rosé, making it deeper in color and fuller in body, but it's not as full bodied or deep in color as a proper red.

Clairet is mostly popular in the French market.


What appellations are able to put their names before the more generic appellation of Côtes de Bordeaux?

  • Blaye 
  • Cadillac
  • Castillon 
  • Francs


Which grape tends to dominate the red blends from Côtes de Bordeaux?



Which lesser-known red wine appellation chose not to put its name in front of Côtes de Bordeaux?

Côtes de Bourg


What style of wine is made in the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux AOP?

The Premières Côtes de Bordeaux AOP is authorized to produce sweet white wines only.

The Premières Côtes de Bordeaux AOP should not be confused with the Côtes de Bordeaux group of AOPs which are approved for dry red and white wines as well as some sweet wines.


What famous solution to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and other fungal infections was developed in the vineyards of Bordeaux?

Bordeaux Mixture


Graves' crus classés all lie within the limits of this AOP.

Pessac-Léognan AOP


How many different appellations are approved for the Bordeaux region?

There are over 50 different appellations in Bordeaux.

They range in size from small communes to vast, sweeping areas.


Wines labeled Médoc AOP come from an area within the Médoc called ___.

What are the soils like here?

Bas-Médoc, the northernmost part of the Médoc.

Soils here are mostly clay with some gravel outcroppings.


What is the dominant grape in wines labeled Médoc AOP?



Wines that carry the Haut-Médoc appellation come from what area of the Médoc?

From around Saint-Estèphe southward


Which area, or appellation, is more highly rated: Médoc or Haut-Médoc?



What are reds from Graves like compared to reds from Pessac-Léognan?

Graves will have less concentration and complexity than Pessac-Léognan, and more Merlot in the blend.


Which appellation is larger: Pomerol or Saint-Émilion?



As of the 2018 and onward, Bordeaux wines will be classified as 1 of 3 tiers of quality.

Q: What are the 3 tiers?

Q: How long is the classification good for?

  1. Cru Bourgeois;
  2. Bourgeois Supérieur;
  3. Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel;

Good for 5 years