Bordeaux, this word says 'wine' to millions around the world. Historians of the subject assure wine lovers that wine has been produced in this region since the first century AD. Given the known ability for the great Bordeaux to age gracefully, it is easy to believe.

The area is located in the southwest of France near the Atlantic coast and near the city of Bordeaux and covers 10,725 square kilometers. It contains 284,000 acres of vineyards and is home to thousands of Chateaux, the vineyard and other facilities for winemaking.

The winter season in this area is quite short, and the climate celebrates hot summers, long falls and high humidity because of its location near the estuary of three rivers the Gironde, Garonne, and Dordogne.

The vineyards cover five distinct regions and 57 appellations. The Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC), in France is referred to as a specifically defined and regulated region, which controls how wines are produced, labeled and sold.

The Medoc region, which is a 50 mile strip between the Atlantic ocean and the Gironde estuary, is home to gravelly plateaus, called croupes where the vines grow. These plateaus sit atop heavy clay and limestone. Cabernet Sauvignon calls this area home. Some wines from this region contain as much as 40% Merlot. 36 million bottles are produced from this area annually which sits on 10,500 acres and is home to 400 vineyards.

The Graves region is named for its pebbly soil which provides for excellent drainage and very healthy vines. This region covers 12,844 acres west of the Garonne River and produces a stellar garnet-colored red, with slightly more Merlot than Cabernet. Dry whites are also produced there and they are heavy on Semillon with a moderate amount of Sauvignon Blanc.

The best wines of this region are distinguished by the name Pessac-Leognan, north of the Graves, with other Chateaux sometimes referred to as crus bourgeois.

Sauternes and the subset Basac, lie south of Graves and has a warmer, drier climate and limestone rich soil. The whites produced in this area are labeled Sauternes and are sweet, a quality derived from the infiltration of a fungus called Botrytis cinerea.

Famous for the sweet, dessert wines such as Yquem, Raymon-Lafon and Rieussec, over 4.5 million bottles are produced on 4,500 acres.

The oldest area in Bordeaux, Saint-Emillon, lies east of the Gironde where the grapes are generally Merlot. The soil ranges from limestone gravel to sandy both of which provide excellent drainage. This area is 13,000 acres and concentrates primarily on high-quality reds, and produces 36 million bottles. The soil and production of its superior grapes produces the most robust, fast maturing reds.

Pomeral with a mere 1,900 acres produces scarce but superior reds from sandy soil atop a clay substrate infiltrated with iron. The vineyards of this are grow Merlot and a type of Cabernet Franc called bouchet. The Chateau Petrus with 95% Merlot is produced here along with many other excellent products.

Many Bordeaux reds have aging potential of 5-15 years, and some reach 20-50 years. It is a challenge however, to wait that long for one of these excellent wines.

Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.

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