Geography: Located on the 45th parallel, Bordeaux borders the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest fine wine district in the world with over 110,000 hectares (270,000 acres) under production. It has a maritime climate with moderate sunlight hours, relatively high humidity and hot summers. Frost and hail are climatic hazards.
Grape varieties: Red : Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenère, White : Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Muscadelle.
Viticulture: Vine densities vary from as much as 10,000 vines/hectare in the communal appellations of the Médoc to 4,000 vines/hectare for generic Bordeaux. Water balance is a critical element, best achieved with gravel, clay or limestone soils. The fungal diseases, oidium (powdery mildew) and mildew (downy mildew) are the scourges in Bordeaux’s humid climate.
Winemaking: Bordeaux is at the cutting-edge of winemaking so all manner of methods and equipment can be found. ‘Restraint’ is probably the key word now after the years of exaggerated extraction and overuse of new oak barrels.
Regions: ‘Left bank’ west of the Garonne river (Médoc, Pessac-Léognan, Graves, Sauternes); ‘Right bank’ north of the Dordogne river (St-Emilion, Pomerol and their satellites); Entre-Deux-Mers or between the two rivers (home to the majority of generic Bordeaux).