Have you heard of Bordeaux wine? You probably have but might not be familiar with the history of the win in the French region. Bordeaux in the region of Aquitaine is in the area of the Garonne River and Dordogne River. The meeting of these areas forms Gironde estuary, which is the biggest estuary within Europe. It flows North-West for about 65 km (40 meters) before it meets the Bay of Biscay.
The ancient Romans first transported grape vines to Bordeaux. This was documented by the naturalist Plinay the Elder during the 1st century AD and then later in the 300s by the rhetorician Ausonius. A major event happened in 1152 that affected the region’s wine industry. England’s Henry II wed Eleanor of Aquitaine. This resulted in the region becoming an English region. One result was that the Bordeaux red wine “claret” skyrocketed in demand.
The Hundred Years’ War ended in 1453. By that time France had control of the Bordelais again. Even though there were high export taxes, Britain still provided a high demand of claret.
During the 1600s Dutch traders removed water from the marshland surrounding the Medoc. That soon became the main agricultural area in the region by passing the Graves. Pierre de Rauzasn was the manager of Chateau Latour until 1692 when he passed away. He received the land that became known by other names in the future.
Nicolas Alexandre received the epithet Prince des Vignes after he earned several properties in the region. He made pebbles of the properties into his coat buttons. They were later mistaken for diamonds by Louis XV.
Then Napoleon III ordered that the top chateaus of Bordeaux be classified for the Exposition Universelle de Paris. There were 61 chateaus that were grouped into 5 “growths” based on price/reputation.
Then in the late 1800s, Bordeaux started to suffer due to several American imports. This included a powdery mildew. The vineyards were then re-planted to American rootstock. The grape varieties that were best able to survive these environments became the dominant ones. That included Merlot and others.
However, then there were other factors including black rot and mildew. Other social factors like economic depression, multiple wars, major frost, and an oil crisis made it tough for many chateaus to survive the situation. By the late 1900s, several of them were worn down and required restoration. The process started and is still continuing to this day.
Despite all these historical events since World War II, Bordeaux wine has remained one of the world’s top wine regions in France and the world. The vineyard area of the region includes an area of more than 120,000 hectares. This qualifies it as the biggest wine-growing region in France.
The average vintages make more than 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine. That ranges from table wine to vintage wine. The majority of Bordeaux’s wine is red. However, there are other types produced in the region like sweet white wines, dry whites, and sparkling wines. The region has over 8,5000 wine producers.