Bordeaux wines are produced in two main geographical areas, notably on the left bank of the Garonne. This production area itself is subdivided into three vineyards: the Médoc, Graves and Sauternes.
Situated between the Gironde and the Atlantic Ocean, the Médoc, a large red wine region, is located to the west of Bordeaux. This sub-region includes two regional appellations, the Médoc and Haut-Médoc. It also includes six local appellations: Margaux, Saint Estèphe, Pauillac, Listrac Médoc, Saint Julien and Moulis-en-Médoc.
In the Médoc, each appellation has its own style. Renowned for their aromatic complexity, the nectars produced under the Margaux AOC are fine wines of remarkable elegance and finesse. They also reveal a great freshness of fruit. Château Margaux plays a major role in the reputation of this appellation. If the wines of Margaux are renowned for being delicate and feminine, those of the Pauillac AOC are known for their power, their tannic side and their structure. This appellation, one of the most prestigious in the Médoc, produces wines with great ageing potential. This AOC is the source of some of the most prestigious Bordeaux wines such as Château Latour, Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Mouton-Rothschild. The Saint Julien AOC, with no less than 11 Grands Crus classés, is also the birthplace of some very fine red wines. These nectars are renowned for their aromatic richness and for their perfect balance between generosity and power. Thanks to their solid structure, the wines of Saint Julien age very well. The Saint Estèphe, Moulis-en-Médoc and Listrac Médoc AOCs also offer wines that are not lacking in quality.
In the Médoc, the vines are mainly grown on gravelly, stony and sandy-clay soils, sometimes with large pebbles. Thanks to optimal drainage, the water supply and temperature of the vines are perfectly regulated. During the day, the gravel captures the heat, releasing it at night.
South of Bordeaux, we find one of the largest gravel terroirs in the world. Bordered by the Landes forest, Graves is home to warm soils composed of clay-limestone and large gravel. This sub-region is divided into three appellations: Graves, Graves Supérieures and Pessac Léognan. Aromatic richness, complexity and concentration are the characteristics of the red wines of Graves. Evolving perfectly with age, these nectars benefit from an excellent aptitude for ageing.
Although the reputation of Bordeaux wines is essentially based on the red fine wines, the sweet wines of Sauternes are also exceptional wines. They are produced in the production area located in the south-east of Bordeaux under the Sauternes and Barsac appellations. The Ciron, a tributary of the Garonne, runs through the Sauternes area, which has a micro-climate. This river brings humidity which, combined with the heat, favours the development of Botrytis cinerea, which forms the noble rot. Thanks to this fungus, the grapes become dehydrated and concentrated in sugar, allowing the production of great Barsac and Sauternes wines.
Sauternes wines, particularly those of the legendary Château d'Yquem, are characterised by their freshness, intense fruitiness and rich aromas. These wines offer a fine balance between the acidity of the fruit and the smoothness of the aromas. The wines of Barsac are also much finer and fresher.
Sauternes is made up of two terroirs with different geological characteristics. Situated on an east-facing plateau, the communes of Sauternes, Fargues, Preignac and Bommes rest on a limestone substratum with marl, fossilised oysters and clayey sands.
Barsac, on the left bank of the Ciron, is characterised by its substratum, which is made up of a plateau of asteriated limestone, very fissured and permeable, and by the large pebbles at the foot of the vines. The soils are thin and marked by the presence of red sands, with a thickness of about forty to fifty centimetres. This substratum is covered with gravel, brought by the Garonne during the different ice ages. Typical of Sauternes, these white soils capture the sun's rays during the day. The restitution of the accumulated heat at night reduces the risk of frost.