The Gironde, in south west France, is the country’s largest Departement, and the home of Bordeaux wines, including claret, Britain’s favorite French wine for centuries. But while all claret is Bordeaux, not all Bordeaux is claret.
Bordeaux is the largest region of fine wine production – red, white and dessert – in the world. The vines cover more than 500 square miles, split almost evenly between red and white grapes, and most of the wines have AC status. The vineyards run from the west bank of the Gironde estuary southwards to below the river Garonne.
Red or 'black' grapes produce different levels of colour and body, the colour coming from the grape skin. Creating a light-bodied red wine depends on the amount of structure obtained from extract and tannins that the wine takes on.
These 'flavourings' provide depth and longevity. Medium-bodied wines will have taste that may be a direct result of the grape variety or varieties used in the blend, the climatic conditions or even, in some cases, the vintange. Thick-skinned grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, are capable of making full-bodied, dense, and long-lived wines. Winemaking also plays a part, as colour and extract can be controlled as part of the process to make wines that are well balanced and harmonious.
Light-bodied red wines include Beaujolais Primeur, medium-bodied red wines include Chinon and Barossa Vally Shiraz is among the most popular of the full-bodied red wines.
One of the word's most popular black grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon's deep colour, blackcurrant aroma and flavour is the backbone of many is the backbone of many full-bodid red wines.
A member of the Bordeaux family, Merlot, in constrast to Cabernet Sauvignon, is soft, fruity, fleshy, and less tannic. It's the principal grape variety in the wines of St Emilion and Pomerol, and is often blended with Cabernet Franc.
A difficult 'customer' described by one well-known winemaker as a 'moving target of a grape variety', on top form Pinot Noir can make the most complex and hedonistic of red wines. Pinot Noir has fewer colouring pigments than other dark-skinned varieties, so it can appear to be lighter or more aged, when compared to wines such and almost inky on occasions.
The Hill of Hermitage and vineyards steeply overlooking the Rhône provide the home of Syrah and one of the most famous place names associated with this great grape variety. Hermitage, Cornas and Côte Rôtie are full-bodied red wines, while Crozes Hermitage and St Jopeph are generally a touch lighter. Syrah is a hardy grape, growing well in poor soil, such as the
An extremely versatile variety of grapes, Chenin Blanc is capable of making dry and crisp white wines that are great as an aperitif, through to medium, unctuous and sweet styles. Due to the keeen and vibrant acidity often found in Chenin Blanc grape, they make brilliant food wines and can stay in good shape for many years after the vitange.