Wine Word of the Week: Bordeaux

By Kori ~ April 5th, 2011.

This week’s Wine Word of the Week is Bordeaux.

Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Bordeaux is an important French port on the Garonne river leading to the Gironde estuary on the west coast. Bordeaux gives its name to a wine region which includes the vineyards of the Gironde département and, as such, the wine region which produces more top-quality wine than any other…. Bordeaux has a higher proportion of large estates than any other French wine region, and produces more of the world’s most expensive and sought-after wines than anywhere else. ….

Conventionally, in terms of the all-important fine red wines at least, the whole region is split into ‘left bank’ and ‘right bank’, or Medoc and Graves on the west side of the Gironde, and St-Émilion and Pomerol on the east side, leaving the vast Entre-Deux-Mers (‘between two seas’) district in the middle. ….

Bordeaux’s most famous, and best travelled, grape variety is that on which the Medoc and Graves depend for their red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon. Bordeaux’s most planted variety by far, however, is Merlot, which by the end of the 1980s occupied 40 percent of all vineyard land.

Layman’s terms from Kori:
Bordeaux is arguably the most famous wine region in France and in the world. Bordeaux produces wonderful white wines and sweet dessert wines, but it is known the world over, first and foremost, for its red wines. Almost 90 percent of Bordeaux vineyards are planted with red varieties. The red varieties most often used in Bordeaux blends are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Other varieties that play or have played a minor role in red Bordeaux are Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenere. The First Growths of Bordeaux, designated in the 1855 classification, are some of the most expensive and sought-after wines in the world.

Filed under: French Wine, Wine Word of the Week

Reader's Comments

  1. itsoffal | April 5th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Kori, I am glad you brought up the subject, I happen to be a big fan of Bordeaux ( a sea of wine, no pun intended ), So many great wines offer value from that region, but I guess today people are looking for wines that ressemble Pam Anderson rather than Annette Bening, wines that show a rather large mid-section at the expense of backbone and lenght. Basically the taste of wine has become visual to the point of being vulgar.
    Bordeaux, I am sure you know comes from the fact that the region is still surrounded by water ( ocean and rivers ), hence bordeaux or litteraly , By the water, although not as much as it used to, as the swamps have been long drained and have been replaced with 600 000 hectares of pine forest to stop the advancing sand dunes.
    Another little bit of info, if you did not have it already, Merlot takes its name from a bird called – Merle, black bird with blueish tinge that loves the grape.

  2. Kori | April 5th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing the additional info about Bordeaux. Obviously, a post about Bordeaux could be quite lengthy but I try to keep these “Wine Word of the Week” posts short and sweet. I, too, am a fan of Bordeaux. I had the pleasure to visit Bordeaux in 2003 and look forward to visiting again someday. While many folks only think about the First Growths, you are absolutely correct that many wines from the region offer great value. In that vein, you might find these posts interesting: and and Cheers!

  3. itsoffal | April 5th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks Kori.
    read you l8er, allig8or

  4. TheGourmetCoffeeGuy | April 6th, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    The sand dunes near Bordeaux are an amazing sight or, as many people say, a “monster pile of sand.” For example, Dune du Pilat is about 394 feet high; 1,640 feet wide and 1.8 miles in length. From the distance, it looks like a “yellow mountain,” really beautiful. Of course, the area around Bordeaux is very nice.
    Your word of the week post, Kori, is always thought provoking.
    Thank you for sharing.

  5. itsoffal | April 7th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Hi, @TheGourmetCoffeeGuy, I climbed the darn thing in 1985 and haven’t recovered , nah just kidding, I even used to train for endurance in the area, jogging 6 miles/day in the sand, tough on calves. I love the sleeping bear dunes park in michigan, next I ‘d like to go to Namibia or the dunes south of Denver Colorado, CBS sunday morning show featured them in their moment of nature ( brought to you by Dulcolax : – )) ) a couple months ago.

  6. Kori | April 7th, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Thanks! I appreciate your sharing about the sand dunes. Always good to have additional info about an area.

    Six miles/day in the sand. Wow, that’ll burn.


  7. itsoffal | April 7th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    @Kori, it sure did burn. that was in april of 1979, spring time in the pine tree forest of the landes region is alive with scents, including ocean breezes and a sun slowly coming out of hibernation.
    in 1985 while touring the area, I ended up at Chat Margaux, a nice little wine it is.
    Q. how do I put a pic in my profile ?, haven’t figured that one out yet on this site. thanks.

  8. Kori | April 7th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    To have an avatar appear when you leave a comment, you’ll need to sign up with Gravatar, When you leave a comment on Wine Peeps with the same email address that you’ve registered with Gravatar, your avatar will automatically appear. Gravatar powers the avatars for numerous sites, not just ours. Cheers!

  9. itsoffal | April 8th, 2011 at 9:10 am