Bordeuax Wine Touring -  the Grape Varieties of the Bordaux Wine Routes.

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Bordeaux wines were traditionally blended wines using skills learned over generations. As in other regions the blending permits elements from each variety to mix and complement to create interesting and often superior wines. Blending is also a allows the major brands from Bordeaux to ensure a certain consistent, recognized flavour and overall quality of wines.However there is change Bordeaux - more and more chateaux have been bottling 100%, single varietal wines (mono cépage). This has occurred as a way to compete with their New World wines, which are labelled by grape variety rather than place name and have  single varietal wines are popular for the international market.

Bordeaux Grape Varieties .

Red wines can be made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère.

The white wines of Bordeaux can be made from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle – which are the most used varieties, but can also be made from Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Mauzac, Ondenc and  Merlot Blanc.

Red Bordeaux blends are as known for powerful structure and forward flavors. Dark fruits and berries like plum and black currant are commonly used to describe the flavors of red Bordeaux. Tannins tend to be high in these wines, giving them a firm structure with the best examples able to age for many decades. These wines with aging potential command the higher prices.  Cabernet Sauvignon is widely accepted as a must component of a Bordeaux red Blend, with Merlot following very close behind. Most Bordeaux red Blend wines are made predominantly, often exclusively, from these two varieties. The remaining components are Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, used in varying combinations and proportions.

 The whites—making up only about 11 percent of the wine production —are based on Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, though small amounts of Muscadelle and other varieties are also grown. Bordeaux wines are built around the desire to craft complex wines; by using different grape varieties that ripen at different intervals, as this system can better account for the variations of the growing season and allow for adjustment to the percentages in a blend to give a wine more colour, tannin or backbone.

 Cabernet Franc - Red (Red) is bottled as a stand-alone varietal in the Loire, but in Bordeaux it is used as a blending grape.  In style, it can range from light- to medium-bodied to as intense and full-bodied as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the grapes it is often blended with  It has currant and berry aromas and flavors often have herbaceous notes that become more pronounced with age.

Cabernet Sauvignon- Red The king of red wines, Cabernet is a steady and consistent performer, it grows well in many appellations, and in specific appellations it is capable of producing wines of great depth, richness, concentration and longevity. Bordeaux has used the grape since the 18th century, always blending it with most commonly with Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  At its best, unblended Cabernet produces wines of great intensity and depth of flavour. Its classic flavors are currant, plum, black cherry and spice. It can also be marked by herb, olive, mint, tobacco, cedar and anise, and with ripe, jammy notes. In warmer areas, it is supple and more elegant; in the cooler areas or years, it is marked by pronounced vegetal, bell pepper, oregano and tar flavors . It is often made very tannic if that is a feature of the desired style. The best Cabernets start out dark purple-ruby in color, with great intensity having a balance of acidity, full body, concentrated flavors and firm tannins. Wine makers influence Cabernet by improving it with oak aging, having the wine spend 15 to 30 months in new or used French or American barrels, an aging that imparts a woody, toasty cedar or vanilla flavor to the wine while slowly oxidizing it and softening tannins. Microclimates are a major factor in the weight and intensity of Cabernets so it is one of the pleasures of travelling Bordeaux to taste the various region versions. Winemakers also influence the style, as they can extract high levels of tannin and heavily oak their wines.

 Merlot - Red . Mainly is used in Bordeaux for blending, it can stand alone and has recently become popular as a smoother drinking red alternative. . In St.-Emilion and Pomerol, especially, it produces noteworthy wines, with the stars being in Château Pétrus. Merlot dominates the Right Bank of Bordeaux, though not the Médoc and Graves.  Merlot blended uses Cabernet for  backbone, color and tannic strength. It also ages well in oak. As a wine, Merlot's cellar aging potential is fair to good. It may be softer with age, but often the fruit flavors fade and the herbal flavors dominate.

 Sauvignon Blanc (White) With an aroma, often described as "grassy", in Bordeaux, it is widely grown, and used as part of a blend in the dry whites of Pessac-Léognan, Graves and the Médoc; it also shows up in the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. Sauvignon Blanc grows well in a variety of appellations,ages well in oak and blends well with Sèmillon for the wien mentioned. The pure varietal is more famous in France’s Loire Valley, especially in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. In Bordeaux winemakers tame the varietal intensity, which at its extreme leads to pungent grassy and herbaceous flavours by blending with Semillon producing the excellent Sauternes and Graves as the prime examples of this marriage. Like a Chardonnay, often the vigerons employ barrel fermentation, sur lie aging and malolactic fermentation. It can be crisp and refreshing, matches well with foods, costs less to produce and grow than Chardonnay and sells for less. The Sauvignon wine drinks best in its youth, but sometimes will benefit from short-term cellaring. As a late-harvest wine, it's often fantastic, capable of yielding amazingly complex and richly flavored wines.

Sémillon (White) Sémillon is a grape  susceptible to Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, which shrivels the grapes and concentrating the sugars to yield luscious dessert wines. When blended into Sauvignon Blanc, it adds body, flavor and texture. When Sauvignon Blanc is added to Sémillon, the latter gains grassy herbal features. On its own or in a blend, this white can age. With Sauvignon Blanc, its traditional partner, this is the foundation of the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac and of most of the great dry whites found in Graves and Pessac-Léognan. These are rich, well-balanced, honeyed wines with complex fig, pear, tobacco and notes.

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