Bordeaux: Vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Bordeaux’s most famous, and best travelled, grape variety is that on which the Médoc and Graves depend for their red wines, cabernet sauvignon. Bordeaux’s most planted variety by far, however, is merlot, which in 2011 occupied 65% of all vineyard land, almost three times as much as the later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot predominates not just in the famous right-bank appellations of St-Émilion and Pomerol but more importantly in the Entre-Deux-Mers (bordeaux aoc country) and throughout the right bank, in whose damper, cooler soils Cabernet Sauvignon can be difficult to ripen. cabernet franc, also important on the right bank, where it is often called Bouchet, is the third most planted grape variety. petit verdot is the only other red grape variety of any importance, playing a minor, but in ripe vintages useful, role in the Médoc. Cot, Pressac, or malbec is an ingredient in some right-bank wines on the other hand, and, perhaps thanks to some Argentine wines, is increasingly mentioned by producers, as is carmenère, a red grape variety of historical importance in Bordeaux (mentioned for reasons associated with chile).