The region of Bordeaux, together with Burgundy, is probably one of the most famous French wine-growing regions, both of which compete for the first place of the qualitatively "best wines". The city of the same name is the capital of the Gironde département with the estuary of the same name in southwest France and is considered one of the most beautiful wine cities in the world. The Greek historian Strabo (63 B.C.-28 A.D.) writes that when he visited "Burdigala" around 20 A.D. he would not have found any viticulture. However, this is not attested by his colleague Pliny the Elder (23-79) a few decades later. This means that the Romans founded viticulture here around 50 AD. Today's Bordeaux region belonged to England for 300 years (1154-1453) and during this time viticulture took off with a significant boom due to the wine trade to England and Flanders. This led to the establishment of large trading houses and the historically important Bordeaux wine trade.
From the end of the 17th century, a large-scale planting of vines began in Bordeaux, especially in the Médoc. Because of these vineyard foundations, the term "Fureur de planter" (planting frenzy) was coined at that time. This laid the foundation for the vineyards of today. Marquis Nicolas-Alexandre de Ségur (1697-1755) was one of the greatest owners of the vineyard. In 1925, Joseph Capus (1867-1947), professor of agriculture and deputy for the department of Gironde, took decisive initiatives regarding the controlled system of origin (see Appellation d'Origine Protégée) in France, which led to the founding of the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO). A common name in the Middle Ages for the entire "Bordeaux hinterland", starting from Bordeaux up the two rivers Garonne and Dordogne, was Haut-Pays.
The equation "Bordeaux is French red wine" is appropriate, because no other wine (apart from Burgundy) is so associated with France as this one. In most cases these are so-called cuvées, wines blended from several grape varieties (see under Bordeaux blending). Each château (winery) has its own recipe for blending and vinification, which is carefully guarded. In Bordeaux, barrel aging in small 225-litre barrels has also been used for centuries and the barrique ageing process has been brought to its highest perfection. In 1855, on the occasion of the World Exhibition in Paris, a comprehensive classification of Bordeaux wines into quality classes was made. This famous Bordeaux classification is almost unchanged.
This area covers about two thirds of the Gironde département (there are no vines only in the south and towards the sea) with an extension of 105 by 130 kilometres and a vineyard area of 113,000 hectares. The climate, which is influenced by the nearby Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf Stream and the many rivers, is extremely favourable for wine growing. The summer is not too dry or hot, the autumn is sunny and the winter mild and humid. The predominantly barren and stony gravel soil means that the vine roots have to dig up to ten metres deep into the ground to find water. This makes it easier to survive both dry and rainy periods. The stony soil favours drainage and also serves as a heat reservoir.
The large area is crossed from the south by the rivers Garonne and Dordogne. These join together below the city of Bordeaux to form the large estuary of Gironde, which divides the area to the north into two areas, which are also the most famous These include the Blaye - Côtes de Bordeaux, Côtes de Bourg, Fronsac, Pomerol and Saint-Émilion appellations (also known as the Rive droite) on the right and east sides of the Gironde respectively, and the Médoc, Graves and Sauternes appellations (also known as the Rive gauche) on the left and west sides respectively. In particular, the southern part of the Médoc (Haut-Médoc) is known as the showpiece of the Bordelais.
There are also significant differences in the grape varieties. One often speaks of a typical Bordeaux blend, but there are different characteristics. On the left side, the red wine varieties Cabernet Sauvignon dominate, followed by Merlot and smaller portions of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The right side is the domain of Merlot, followed by the white wine varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. The two Cabernet varieties contribute tannin, the Merlot yields softer wines. The three main red varieties account for 90% of the red wine varieties. Among the white wines, Sémillon is the most important variety with over 50%, followed by Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, Muscadelle and Ugni Blanc(Trebbiano Toscano).
The importance of viticulture is impressively demonstrated by the fact that wine is produced in over 500 of the 542 municipalities. Basically, every winery, regardless of its size, the structural conditions or the quality of the wine pressed there, is called a château (castle) - in quite a few of them, however, there are actually buildings similar to castles. The widespread family empire of the Lurton is the largest owner of wineries. Almost exclusively AOP wines with 65 appellation designations are produced (98%), more than a quarter of France comes from here. This makes Bordeaux the world's largest area for quality wines. A large part is marketed under the regional appellation names. This applies to all AOP wines from the Gironde department.
They may be a mixture of authorised grapes from the entire region. These are Bordeaux (Rouge, Blanc), Bordeaux sec (white wine with residual sugar below 4 g/l), Bordeaux Rosé, Bordeaux Clairet (light red wine) and Crémant de Bordeaux (sparkling wine). The most successful brand wines under the AC designation Bordeaux are the "Dourthe No. 1" from Dourthe-Kressmann, the "Sirius" from Sichel, the "Michel Lynch" from Château Lynch-Bages, the "Maître d'Estournel" from Château Cos d'Estournel as well as the absolute front-runner in terms of sales volume and worldwide export hit Mouton Cadet from Mouton-Rothschild. There are over 30 municipal appellations, from which one can generally expect outstanding qualities: