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Flashcards in Bordeaux Deck (65)
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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 what 3 grapes?

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sémillon
  • Muscadelle (not used as often and when it is, only a small percent is used)


Red Bordeaux wines are typically blends of which red grapes?

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Petit Verdot (not used as often and when it is, only a small percent is used)


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 classified for their red wines in the 1855 Classification.

Pauillac AOP

  • Château Lafite-Rothschild
  • Château Mouton-Rothschild​
  • Château Latour

Margaux AOP

  • Château Margaux

Graves AOP

  • Château Haut-Brion