Bordeaux has a beautiful landscape, but the French region has more to offer than the picturesque landscape. The wine produced in Bordeaux is one of the oldest and among the best wines in the world.
The best thing about Bordeaux wine is that it’s accessible and affordable; however, there are expensive varieties of the wine. Most wines that are produced in Bordeaux are a mixture of different grape varieties. For the time being, let’s put the extravagance of the landscape aside and dive into the roots and background of Bordeaux Wine.
We have to answer some important questions such as how old is Bordeaux Wine? When and where did it originate? Is it still enjoyed today? In this guide, we will try to answer all these questions in the best possible way.
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About Bordeaux Wine
Bordeaux is a region in France, and this is the region where the wine originated from. Most Bordeaux wines are a blend of two different wine varieties: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, there are other varieties of Bordeaux wines as well.
Bordeaux wine is made from a combination of different grapes and is a popular wine worldwide. Some Bordeaux wines also contain Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc wines. There are also white wine varieties of Bordeaux wine such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle and Semillon.
History of Bordeaux Wine
Bordeaux wine first appeared in the 1st century AD and quickly gained popularity. Romans would distribute the wine to the public and would even export it to Gaul and Britain. The writings of Pline ‘the Elder’ also discuss Bordeaux Wine. Evidence of early consumption has been found in historical writings in Pompeii as well.
The weather and geography in Bordeaux provide perfect conditions for grapes. The first Bordeaux grapes were imported from Spain and Rioja is the most commonly used grape specie. Nearby Bordeaux is the Gironde River, a perfect travel route for the region that helped export wine to other parts of Europe.
Bordeaux and England: The Marriage
The marriage of King Henry and Eleanor gave the British control over the Bordeaux region for over three centuries. The British reign over Bordeaux came to an end in 1453. However, by that time, the Brits had fallen in love with Bordeaux, and Richard, the son of King Henry and Eleanor, drank Bordeaux wine daily.
The expansion of Bordeaux wine continued, it started gaining popularity worldwide, and twice every year, Britain would import wine from the region.
The Dutch also had control over Bordeaux for almost three centuries; however, they weren’t interested in the region’s beautiful landscape; they only valued the wine Bordeaux produced. In addition, the Dutch wanted to speed up wine production so that the wine wasn’t spoiled.
The Dutch also had an interesting wine fermentation technique, as they would burn sulfur in wine barrels, enhancing the wine ageing ability. Later on, the Bordeaux region changed as the number of vineyards increased. However, during the 1600s, the region had a lot of unused swamps and marshlands.
The Dutch had a plan to use the unused space and converted the swamp and marshlands into roads. This development gave Bordeaux an additional trade route and also allowed more vineyards to be constructed. The credit for these changes goes to Jan Andriaasz Leeghwater, who drained the swamp and marshlands using drainage dikes.
Commercial Demand for Bordeaux Wine
It all started with Bordeaux Wine label because all Bordeaux Wines had the same properties and characteristics. However, in the 1600s, different Bordeaux wine brands emerged, and customers wanted to consume the best of them.
The most popular Bordeaux wine varieties were Haut Brion, Lafite, Margaux and Latour. Winemakers started producing these four wine varieties to meet the demand.
Bordeaux Wine and Negociants
Many negociants firms were founded in the 1700s. The Royals rarely spent their wealth on commercial wine selling and hired negociants for selling the wine; due to this, the demand for negociants grew.
The negociants also grew powerful, investing funds in the vineyards and growing the wine industry of Bordeaux. Bordeaux was the only place where the buyers and the sellers of wine didn’t interact at all.
The Growth of Bordeaux Wine
In 1725, appellation boundaries were drawn, and the production region of the wine was printed on its label. Thus, the areas that produced wine in Bordeaux were known as ‘Vignoble de Bordeaux’.
With so many areas in the Bordeaux region producing wine, customers had several choices. However, the wine production in Bordeaux stopped during the French revolution, as large estates were taken from the Royals and wealthy individuals.
The estates were further divided and sold through an auction, and residents were forced to divide their land. As time went by, the size of the estates kept on getting smaller, and they still exist today. However, despite the division of the estates, most properties in Bordeaux are still quite large.
Although the Bordeaux region has faced challenges over the years, the Phylloxera outbreak proved disastrous. Today, the production of Bordeaux wine is lesser than in the past, and only top-quality species of grapes are being used.
The quality of wine is still high, but there aren’t many customers. The taxation has also made it hard for winemakers to produce the wine efficiently, and many of them are selling their businesses to large companies and corporations. However, funds are still being invested in Bordeaux Wine industry, and new facilities such as vineyards and cellars are being constructed.
The family-run wine operations have also been declining in Bordeaux, but their estates still exist and are preserved. Overall, the modern winemaking techniques have helped Bordeaux Wine, is it now has a fresher, crisper and cleaner taste. In addition, the wine is now more concentrated and is still considered a luxurious brand of wine.
Summing it Up
Bordeaux is among the oldest wine varieties globally, but even today, it is extremely popular and consumed in different parts of the world. Most current wines probably have their roots in the Bordeaux region. Bordeaux wines are easily available, and they are quite diverse, so you can easily get the wine at an affordable price.