Grape varieties used in Bordeaux and Burgundy wines 

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Red Bordeaux and Burgundy wines deserve their worldwide reputations. Of course, there are also the white Bordeaux and Burgundy wines.  

Red Bordeaux wine

The soil and climate of the Bordeaux region in France make for some spectacular wines, guaranteed to excite your taste buds. Did you know that the best vineyards are planted at latitudes of 30 to 50 degrees south and 30 to 50 degrees north? Soil and climate are very important for growing grapes. They thrive in soil that wouldn’t suit most plants, for example, rocky, sandy or clay soil and even limestone. The grapes need sun, good drainage for when it rains and the right climate.  

What grape varieties are used in red Bordeaux wines? 

Bordeaux wine is blended, a mixture of several grape varieties. The two most famous grape varieties used in Bordeaux reds are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but Cabernet Franc comes in third place, as it loves the limestone soils of Bordeaux and is great for blending with the main two varieties. It’s not as famous as the other two grape varieties, although it first became popular in the 1600s, so it’s got a good pedigree. This grape is popular in the Saint Emilion region where it’s blended with Merlot grapes. When blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine produced is very elegant and complex. 

White Bordeaux wines and their grapes

Sauvignon Blanc grapes were, in the past, crossed with Cabernet Franc, to produce the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. White Bordeaux wines can be dry or sweet.  

Sémillon grapes can be used to make both sweet and dry wines. Think about Sauternes, the sweet white Bordeaux wine, mainly consisting of Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grape varieties. The dry wines are usually blends of 80% Sémillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. 

Burgundy grape varieties  

Red Burgundy is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. White Burgundy is made with Chardonnay grapes. There’s also rosé Burgundy, does that surprise you? There isn’t much of it about, but it’s out there and makes for a refreshing summer drink. It’s got hints of berries, and in summer, it’s perfect.  

There are two other grape varieties to mention in connection to Burgundy wine, Gamay and Aligote. Beaujolais is a wine from the Burgundy region of France, as is Chablis, the Burgundy white wine made from Chardonnay grapes.  

Where else in the world grows Pinot Noir grapes? 

Pinot Noir grapes are cultivated in New Zealand, Oregon (USA), Argentina, California, Germany and Italy, as well as in France. Because of the variations in climate and soil, they all taste differently. Chardonnay grapes also grow in the above countries, as well as in Spain, Chile, China and South Africa. France’s grape varieties, and primarily the noble grape varieties, have spread around the world to meet the growing demand for wines. 

Did you know that the colour burgundy, as used in the UK to describe a claret colour, is actually described as bordeaux in Greece? It might be that Bordeaux wines were more popular than Burgundy wines in the country. If anyone can offer a better explanation, please get in touch and let us know!

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