Master Sommelier Andrea Immer tours France's Bordeaux region and explains how geography and soil variance produce the unique characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.Master Sommelier Andrea Immer tours France's Bordeaux region and explains how geography and soil variance produce the unique characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
[BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] If there's one thing you could say about Bordeaux, in France right now, what would in be? Expensive, the good stuff is extremely expensive. The aged stuff is also extremely expensive, and increasingly rare and those two things of course go together. So, we got the country of France right? You knew that was France. Bordeaux's basically right down here, very large fine wine region. And like so many high quality wine regions, it's defined by a geographic feature. What is it? Rivers, right? You can think of so many regions where that is the case. The Napa Valley, Napa River, right? In the case of Bordeaux, it's the Gironde River. A big artery going straight out to the Atlantic Ocean that was originally used as a merchant sailing route by even the ancient Romans. And when we're talking about whites, we're talking about basically two key grape varieties there, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. So these are the two white grapes for Bordeaux. But yeah, what grapes is Bordeaux really famous for? Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, so, polar opposites pretty much in terms of style and the reason it all works in one region is they're different soil types and different spots. But essentially the Sauvignon blanc and [UNKNOWN] they like well drained soil meaning not too much dirt there, not too much organic material, plenty of rocks and gravel. And so, and typically a lot of chalkiness, or a bit of limestone component, because that helps them retain their acidity, which helps them retain their freshness when you drink them young, and even their ageability. Where they grow is two places. They grow in a district called Graves. Graves is aptly named for the soil which is dominated by gravel and when I say gravel the bordeaux version of gravel is very often fist sized gravel. The gravel soil there is a real benefit for the wines and for the vines because it creates a drainage. Everybody associates or a lot of people associate bordeaux with cabaret sovignon. Understandably, because its most famous district with the highest proportion of wines that are ranked and extremely well known and have been for centuries is what's called the left bank. The soil type lends itself to Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape. And because the wines of that left bank area are so famous, We associate Bordeaux with Cabernet. Merlot is actually the more widely planted grape. Now the official name for the Left Bank district is called the Medoc, and the subdistrict within that where all the really famous chateaus are is called the Old Medoc, or the Upper Medoc. On the left bank, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon. The reason for that, soil type. Heavy, heavy gravel. The right bank's a different story, it has heavily iron rich clay type soil. It's more successful ripening Merlot which doesn't need as much of a warm soil to ripen fully. Left bank wines are dominated by Cabernet. Right bank one's dominated by Merlot. And they have affectionately become known as vin du garage or garage wines. They have a state fruit, they have a small vineyard. They don't have a fancy Chateau so they just make it in their garage. They have in some cases trumped the left bank chateaus for fame and for price The label of the bordeaux wine is not a bridal label. They don't have the grapes on the front the way American wines and Australian and Chilean and so on do. Instead the wines are named for what? The region and specifically in the case of the high quality wines the estate itself. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO]