Savvy Wine Region of the Month-Bordeaux

by A.J. McClellan, Certified Sommelier and Founder of Roots and Water

Bordeaux is one of the most significant fine wine regions of France. It is the second highest producing wine region in France and its largest wine growing area in number of acres. Bordeaux is primarily a red wine region, with reds making up 85% of its total production.

This powerhouse of a region is split into two main growing areas divided by the mighty Gironde, a large river made up of the two smaller rivers of Garonne (south) and Dordogne (east). Wines coming from the left bank of the Gironde are mostly from the Medoc and are majority Cabernet Sauvignon, while the wines from the right bank of St Emilion and Pomerol are mostly Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

There is history of wine being made along the Gironde dating back to the 4th century AD, but it wasn’t until the 1600s when the Dutch drained the marshes of present-day Medoc on the left bank of the Gironde that we saw truly great wines start to come from the region. The city of Bordeaux became one of the largest centers of trade, and the wine region’s popularity skyrocketed given its easy access to the Atlantic shipping routes. The wine-hungry countries of England, Italy, and Spain were always eager to bring in new Clarets from Bordeaux.

In 1863, Bordeaux was the second region in France (behind Chateauneuf-du-Pape) to adopt the new AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) system to govern the quality of wines coming from the region. The AOC established the geographical boundaries of each appellation and set limits on yields, vineyard density, training and pruning techniques, grape varietals, methods of production, minimum alcohol levels and minimum must weights.

The climate of Bordeaux is maritime, with both the Atlantic and the Gironde helping to moderate the weather and make winter freezes less likely. With a short winter and damp springs, the summers can reach relatively warm temperatures, averaging 60 degrees at night and 75 to 80 degrees during the day.  Coastal pine forests protect the Médoc vineyards from harsh west and northwesterly winds, but rain is a worry, especially at harvest. The climate becomes more continental toward St-Émilion and Pomerol.

The major growing areas of the left bank consist of the Medoc (west) and Graves (south), characterized by their well-drained gravelly soils. In 1855, Emperor Napoleon III commissioned 58 of the top chateaus from the left bank to be classified, ranking them by price into five different levels of quality. The only notable change to the 1855 classification was in 1973, when Chateau Mouton Rothschild was elevated from second growth to first growth status.

On the right bank, St Emilion has an expanse of limestone on its steep coastal hillsides and more gravelly style limestone on the plateau. Pomerol, measuring only five square miles, is dominated by sand, clay, and gravel. The wine laws on the right back are much different, with St Emilion having revisions to their Chateau quality designates every ten years, while Pomerol has never been classified.

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Your annual membership fee of $50 per person gets you:

  • your first bottle of wine at Roots and Cellar free (sommeliers choice of the month)

  • free pop-up tastings for the member plus one (additional guests at $20 each)

  • VIP private event invitations

A.J. McClellan founded Roots and Water to give his clients a place to come and find the most extraordinary fine and rare wines in the world and to have a place that fellow oenophiles can gather to share their passion for wine. The private, members-only, speak-easy, wine club is located in the Design District, offering a quiet, safe, and fun place to learn and experience wine like never before.

About the Savvy Wine Cellar Wine Tasting Club:  Roots and Water Wine Club, in partnership with Estate Life, offers you the opportunity to join the Savvy Cellar Wine Tasting Club. By joining, you get access to monthly wine tastings, free wine delivery, and private special events at the Wine Club. Every month we will present information on a new wine region and then hold tastings of benchmark wines from the region. Whether you’re learning wine or an existing oenophile, you’ll want to take advantage of this exclusive environment and ultra-luxury experience. For just $50, you’ll get all 12 months of access for the tastings and your first bottle of wine hand-selected by one of R&W’s expert sommeliers.

Your First Tasting is FREE!

Join us to Taste the wines of the Bordeaux region this month

RSVP for the Savvy Cellar Wine Tasting Event on April 19

Tasting are held 6-8 pm at the Roots and Water Tasting Room

(location details on the RSVP form)